Expect some more serious issues to be thrown into the comedic mix during the upcoming season of Black-ish. The family-centric ABC comedy will jump right into discussing the racial elephant in the room when season 2 premieres on Sept. 23, taking on the debate of whether or not the N-word should ever be used.
In the premiere episode, “The Word,” the issue arises after youngest son Jack (Miles Brown) shocks the audience during his prep school’s talent show by performing Kanye West’s Gold Digger, complete with the N-word. The incident leads to a possible expulsion, which gets the family debating the controversial term and how it has evolved. Interestingly, while the episode will dissect the N-word, the pejorative will not actually be heard by the audience; it will be censored each time it is used — ABC is a Disney-owned property, after all.
It’s a complicated issue, which the episode will attempt to highlight. Showrunner Kenya Barris told Variety that the premiere will show how divided the black community is on the use of the word, and explaining that there is no “monolithic voice.” “There are a lot of different voices within and outside the community,” said Barris. “We try to explore what this word means from a panoramic viewpoint.”
Throughout its first season, Black-ish used contentious topics as inspiration, from corporal punishment to gender roles. The trend will continue moving forward, but comedy won’t go by the wayside as serious topics are covered. “I do think there is room for discussion-based humor,” said Barris, but he hopes to keep the comedy, while still discussing deeper issues “in a way that feels edifying.”
Clearly, the show is doing just that; Black-ish was rated as the top new comedy among adults 18-49 during season 1, and Anthony Anderson, who plays partriarch Dre, was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.
Black-ish season 2 premieres on Sept. 23 at 9:30/8:30 c. Watch the episode promo for “The Word” below.