Black-ish (ABC, WED, 9:30PM EST)
Yes, the title of this comedy is a bit odd, but it presents real-world issues in a humorous matter. I checked out this show because Laurence Fishburne plays the granddad! New VP of marketing at a predominantly white advertising firm, Andre Johnson (a trimmed down Anthony Anderson), worries about his four young kids not knowing much about their black heritage. His biracial surgeon wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), thinks he’s overreacting- they’ve worked hard for their comfy suburban LA life. Their oldest son, Andre Jr., wants to have a bar mitzvah (like his Jewish pals) and is chosen for the field hockey team at school (not basketball, as his dad hoped).
This new show has received mixed reviews, but I think it has potential. It’s been a long time since The Cosby Show and it’s spinoff A Different World, two successful comedies that presented middle-class black American life and eclectic, interesting, and well-developed characters. Fans of Girlfriends will be happy to see Ellis Ross in a different role, though still capable and smart like Joan. The child actors, especially the twin boy and girl, are very cute and come off as natural. The issues are easy to relate to if you have a foot in two worlds. My favorite line: “We’re black, not African. Africans don’t even like us.” Fishburne’s character says this while Andre and Jr. are attempting to perform an African rites of passage ritual.
How to Get Away with Murder (ABC, THURS, 10PM EST)
A lot was written about this new Shonda Rimes’ series before it even ran; she’s not the creator, but is producing. Rimes has proven that she can bring in viewers, including women and minorities of all types, with Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal (which has many fans livetweeting each Thursday night). Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) is a practicing defense attorney and professor at a fictional law school in Philly. She’s a multi-faceted, complicated character- this attracted Davis to TV. I’ve seen her on Broadway- in person, she’s a lean dynamo that “can play any role,” as that old song says.
There are plenty of twists and turns in the pilot, but I wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped. Fans of Matt McGorry (Orange is the New Black) were probably wanting more from his character. Maybe later on? Wes (Alfred Enoch, a Brit) is the POV character- I liked his wide-eyed innocence. Check it out for yourself and decide! Oh, and don’t forget to check out #notclassicallybeautiful hashtag on Twitter.
Red Band Society (FOX, WED, 8PM EST)
This drama stars several fresh-faced newcomers (teens) and Octavia Spencer, who co-starred with Davis in The Help. Spencer plays an experienced nurse working with kids who have potentially terminal diseases. These kids are have little in common, aside from the fact that they have to live in the hospital (because they need around-the-clock monitoring). It’s not like any other show starring teens out there- a big plus in my mind. There is a spiritual element to the show, centered on young boy in a coma. I’m not sure if I’ll keep watching- I felt teary-eyed three times watching the pilot!
Selfie (ABC, TUES, 8PM EST)
What an annoying title! Honestly, I tuned in solely for John Cho (who many know from the Harold and Kumar movies). It started out weak, but I liked the scenes in the second half of the comedy (including a poem and song). Cho plays Henry Higgs, a marketing guru/loner, who is asked by his self-absorbed 20-something co-worker, Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan, a Scot), to revamp her image after a embarrassing (online/viral) incident. Yes, those names are from My Fair Lady, which is the inspiration for this series. Henry, not unlike Eliza, has difficulty connecting to people- she hides behind her cell; he hides behind his work/professional demeanor. I hope this show gets better and finds an audience! Favorite line: “Being friended isn’t the same as having friends.”