Pop Culture

I Watched the Mixed-ish Pilot, and I Have Mixed Feelings (**SPOILERS)

Written by Saran Lawson

Mixed-ish is the second spin-off of Black-ish; Grown-ish being the successful second spin-off. The show follows Bow (Rainbow Johnson) played by the unconquerable Traci Ellis Ross through her childhood in the ’80s as a person with a Black mother and White father. Alicia Jackson, Her mother is played by the gorgeous Tika Sumpter who is involved in a real-life interracial relationship. Paul Jackson, Her father is played by 90’s heartthrob, Mark-Paul Gosselaar.  The show opens depicting Bow’s childhood on a commune with her family. She talks about this utopian society where there was no racism, people grew their food and it was kumbaya. The commune is somehow raided and the family has to move to a rental home owned by Rainbow’s grandfather, Harrison, played by Gary Cole. They now have to integrate back into society as a biracial family in California. The children attend a new school and the two youngest Jackson children, Johan and Santamonica feel pressured right away to choose a race. Whereas, Rainbow feels conflicted about choosing sides and even wants to move back to a commune. Bow’s parents, Alicia and Paul Jackson met at college. Alicia graduated and became a lawyer and her husband dropped out. However, both moved off the grid to start there family. Alicia has to take a job as a lawyer working at Harrison’s firm to support the family. Rainbow’s dad stays home to grow food for the family. 

I’m going to be honest. I wasn’t in love with the pilot for this series. With most pilots being a little rough in the beginning, I’m willing to give it a few episodes before I pass judgment. I will say for the topic at hand and being on a network station as a family show, it wasn’t terrible. However, I feel like certain scenes were a little conflicting. There was a scene with Rainbow’s Aunt Denise where she shows up to the house with clothes for the kids and hair products. She mentions the kids were dressed as runaway slaves (they were still wearing the clothes from the commune) and that the little one (Santamonica) had edges. The mother, Alicia, say’s a line about them being above race to Denise. Later on, in the show, she has a conversation with her husband about her work attire. He feels she is changing (she was dressed like a hippie before) and she now wears a suit to practice law. She tells him that the world is different for her as a black woman. Although, I am thankful that the show finally started addressing potential issues between mixed couples later in the show. I am confused about Alicia’s view of the world. She told her sister they were above race when Denise addressed the couple about the children’s identity. However, when she spoke to her husband she talked about how things were different for her because she is black. Does she feel they are above race or not? Especially since she is a character of color who was around during the civil rights era. There was also the comment adult Bow made about her Aunt Denise having the personality of a TSA worker before they knew what their personalities would be. I didn’t have a problem with the comment per se. However, I am curious to see how they will handle Denise’s character without turning her into a stereotype. 

So far, my favorite characters are the side characters, Denise and Harrison. I felt they brought the lightheartedness the show needs to teeter between a drama and a comedy. I think this show has the potential to shed light on things if ABC doesn’t try to censor the show. But, I can also see how this show can go down in flames if they tread too lightly around topics that need to be directly addressed. Just like Blackish did in the begining of the shows history. For a series that directly deals with race, I would like to see them handle the subject more upfront. Hopefully, the network takes this opportunity to use their platform to usher in a new type of family. I just fear if the show isn’t done right, it will be another excuse not to show the type of diversity that we need. What did you think of the show? Sound off in the comments below. 

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