bestof2014-16

Every day between now and Christmas morning, we’ll share the twenty-five stories that engaged, enchanted, amused and amazed us the most in 2014. If you missed them, now’s your chance to catch up; if you’re looking for a gift for the wonk in your life, then these are our most enthusiastic recommendations!

Today, black-ish

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big fan of diversity, especially in our stories. Culturally, our relationship with race and ethnicity is a hot mess, and a big contributor to our problems is our lack of diverse storytelling. Storytelling is a uniquely human endeavor, and if you are connected with another group’s stories, you can’t help but be connected to their humanity. From a purely philosophical and moral point of view, I believe very strongly that having more diverse stories in the mainstream—and I mean real diverse stories, not dominant culture stories with an occasional token thrown in—will help fix a lot of our problems. Not all of them, by any means, but it would be a solid start.

But I’m not here to lecture you about it. I’m not going to tell you that you should watch black-ish because it will make the world a better place and heal our racial divide. Story comes first for me, every time, and if a diverse story is bad, I still won’t recommend it. The reason you should watch black-ish isn’t because it’s diverse storytelling.

You should watch it because it’s good.

It’s genuinely funny, and well-written. While Anthony Anderson’s Andre follows a bit in the footsteps of the bumbling dad we’ve grown to know and hate, Andre has charm, genuine vulnerability and a rarely seen competence that freshens the role up a bit. A big part of what makes the classic idiot dad so unbearable is the wife—beautiful, capable, successful and smart and what the hell is she doing with that loser? While Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays Andre’s wife Rainbow (Bow to her friends), is definitely beautiful, she’s just as prone to fumbling as Andre, which makes them seem less like an unbelievable fantasy for every goober guy who wants to believe he’ll nab a perfect woman who will love him anyway despite his nonsense, and more a team of goofy equal we can relate to, because let’s face it—we’re all goofs, too. And then there are the kids… While classic pretty-and-popular teen Zoey and nerdtacular Andre Jr. are a little flat and stereotyped, the two elementary school twins, Jack and Diane, are so adorable and smart and fun that who cares? Especially wonderful is Marsai Martin, who plays Diane, and steals every scene she’s in, even when she’s up against Tracee Ellis Ross.

So, yes, it’s a show about a black family and yes, we need more diverse stories, but that’s not why you should watch black-ish. You should watch it for the same reason you should engage with any story… because it’s good.

Get it now: black-ish