This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
ABC's "Black-ish" is about race. It's right there in the title.
The basic premise of the family sitcom is that dad Andre (Anthony Anderson) is concerned that the affluent lifestyle he and his wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), have worked for makes his children "Black-ish" and not just black.
And yet a question about the racial makeup of the show's audience was met with outrage by the show's producers and stars at the Television Critics Association press tour.
"What an odd question," asserted Laurence Fishburne (Pops).
"Is that a question that you've asked other shows that are not predominantly of a certain color?" Ross asked coldly.
To be fair, the question was asked clumsily. It seemed more in search of a tabloid-type story than learning that, as is the case, the audience that tunes in to "Black-ish" is predominantly white.
Maybe the questioner shouldn't have mentioned that Donald Trump back before he was tweeting dumb things as a presidential candidate tweeted this dumb thing about the show a week after it premiered in 2014:
"How is ABC Television allowed to have a show entitled 'Blackish'? Can you imagine the furor of a show, 'Whiteish'! Racism at highest level?"
"You had to bring that name in this room," said Jenifer Lewis (Ruby). "Nobody cares what Trump thinks about anything."
But it was rather surprising when creator/executive producer Kenya Barris actually teared up as he explained that he will be "so happy when diversity is not a word."
"I am constantly having to talk about diversity," Barris said. "It's ridiculous. We are at a time when everything is about black and white and this and that.
"It didn't matter who is watching our show," he said, adding that he is "so tired of talking about diversity. These are amazing, talented actors and amazing writers who give their all and don't have to do this, and it's clouding the conversation."
Given that the show is "Black-ish," his reaction was somewhat well, odd. And Barris seemed to realize that.
"I know you didn't mean anything about it," he said to the questioner. "I'm not trying to attack you."
And, bringing Trump back into the discussion, he referred to the current political campaign as "racist."
"It really comes down to we're so divisive as a community," said Barris, who wants "Black-ish" to be known as "just a good family show."
And he did eventually answer the question.
"Our audience is 23 percent black. It's majority white," Barris said. " 'Modern Family' is 20 percent [black]."
Those are interesting numbers that clearly demonstrate that "Black-ish" appeals to the same broad-based audience as "Modern Family."
The appearance at the TCA press tour was not without irony. As is often the case, the cast seemed taken aback that the TCA didn't applaud which, as journalists, is standard practice.
They were further nonplussed when it took a few moments for the first question, which happens because reporters are waiting for pages to bring microphones so those questions can be heard.
"Really? That's it?" Anthony Anderson exclaimed.
"Oh, wait a minute," Lewis said. "[The critics] are mostly white. That's what's going on."
She was kidding. But Lewis played the race card first.
Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.
"Black-ish" returns for its third season on Wednesday, Sept. 21, on ABC/Ch. 4.