Black–ish premiered in September, and it arrived with its fair share of controversy.
Since then, however, the show has flourished, and most of the critics who had an issue with the show’s title have turned into avid viewers themselves.
For many viewers, the show is considered a breath of fresh air since Black sitcoms haven’t been prevalent in the TV industry since the ’90s when shows like The Cosby Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air were dominating ratings.
Now Anderson has his turn to star in a Black TV sitcom, and he is giving credit to ABC president Paul Lee for bringing diversity back to the television landscape.
“I applaud ABC and Paul Lee for giving us the opportunity to tell these stories from our perspective,” Anderson told HuffPost Canada during the 2015 Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour. “These are stories we all go through and we all live, but we got to tell it from our perspective. So I applaud them for taking the stand and championing our show and our title, and getting behind putting minorities back on network television.”
While Black stars have been highlighted in some of today’s favorite dramas, the comedy world was missing its fair share of voices from people of color.
As Anderson mentioned, however, ABC seems to be charging forward with a grand master plan to bring diverse sitcoms to small screens across the nation.
Cristela, a sitcom featuring a Hispanic cast, also airs on the network.
ABC will also be home to Fresh Off the Boat, a sitcom about an Asian-American family.
While Black–ish had to battle with critics and controversy, neither of the other sitcoms has faced significant backlash.
According to Anderson, he believes the different titles play a major role in that.
“Fresh Off the Boat, now that’s pretty explanatory,” Anderson said. “I don’t think they’ll have the problems they had with their title that we had with ours. We get it. Immigrants. Fresh off the boat. Coming into America wanting to make a new change.”
He said the title doesn’t stir up much controversy, although there certainly is a chance that it could have been a little more controversial with an all-Black cast.
“Fresh Off the Boat could have been the title for our show and it wouldn’t have been a problem, I don’t think … maybe it might have been a problem,” he said. “That boat ride that we had originally … that might have caused a little bit of controversy, too!”
Either way, Anderson is just happy that his show is now being embraced, and he hopes it will not only lead to a second season but that it will lead to many other sitcoms boasting predominantly Black casts.
“The biggest compliment that anyone can get, and what we’ve gotten so far, is that people are out there looking for their Black–ish show,” Anderson continued. “That’s exciting to hear. Just like the generation before our show opened the door for us, we’re opening the door for the next generation of shows to come. And with the success of shows like Cristela, Black–ish and Fresh Off the Boat, that only makes it easier for the next crop to come through.”