It’s the most wonderful time of the year for TV lovers: cooler breezes (even by South Florida standards), clear blue sky, harvest, and the air of anticipation of the next episode of a good show. That’s right folks. It’s fall. That means it’s time to catch up on all of your favorite shows that aren’t aired during the summer.
Wonderful still is the fresh crop of new shows featuring black actors in prominent roles, like Black-ish, Tyler Perry’s If Loving You is Wrong, How to Get Away with Murder, Red Band Society, State of Affairs, and Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse. My focus is on three of the shows: If Loving You, For Better or Worse, and ABC’s Black-ish.
Pros & Cons
If Loving You Is Wrong is a super soapy, ethnically diverse Desperate Housewives. It follows five women and their husbands who all happen to live on the same street. Think: Perry’s Single Mom’s Club as a TV show.
Understandably, Perry is taking the success of that show and trying not to re-invent the wheel with Loving. Since this critic isn’t a huge fan of soapy drama, it was a little grating to sit through the episodes of way too close-up camera angles, bad transitioning, and lackluster framing. However, what Loving lacks in production quality it makes up for with Perry’s twisty sweet writing.
Over on the set of For Better or Worse, still in its third season and beginning with episode 42 of 55 (according to imdb.com), we find that Perry has had an upswing in writing. While For Better has always had a high production quality and stunning imagery, the writing in the past seasons has lagged to the point of drowsiness on the part of the audience.
However, in episode 42, titled Too Much Sex, Marcus (Michael Jai White) has accidentally been taking doggie fertility pills that have left him literally panting for his wife, Angela (Tasha Smith); much to her chagrin. This episode proves to be hilarious and worth a good watch/laugh. Unfortunately, the follow-up episode goes back to the show’s roots: lagging dramatic storylines that take half an hour to tell a 15-minute story.
Just in case you’ve been under a rock, ABC has a new comedy on its roster that isn’t produced by Shonda Rhimes called Black-ish about a black family “living the American dream.” Black-ish stars Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Anderson, and Laurence Fishburne as a Cosby-like family for the Millennial age. It takes a good look at race and class and what those things mean in a post-Obama America. And, the storytelling is fresh, real, and superb. So far, it’s the best new black comedy on TV.
There’s a break out star on the horizon by the name of Joel Rush, who plays Eddie in If Loving You. Eddie, a bad cop still in love with his ex-wife Esperanza (Zulay Henao), is a volatile, arrogant, and boisterous character. And, he’s oh so fun to watch. Rush, with his Atlanta tough guy exterior, makes this show what it needs to be: dramatic and suspenseful.
In For Better, Smith, whose a sought-after acting coach in Hollywood, is still tried and true as Angela; just a bit better with age. The audience sees a more down-to-earth Angela who’s comfortable in her marriage and living a great life as a successful wife, mother, and business woman; otherwise known as an awesome image of a strong black woman.
Black-ish’s Anderson and Fishburne, who are also producers on the show, have great comedic timing and make the characters relatable. Anderson’s Andre Sr. is more than just the typical “angry black man.” He gives a voice to how we are viewed in society today. Likewise, Fishburne’s Pops represents how the older generations, who lived through brutal segregation, see themselves in the post-Obama society: racism still exists, but you can’t let that consume your life.
Now that you’ve got the skinny on some of the new and returning shows of color that fall has to offer, try to keep in mind one powerful element of television: ratings. Every time you watch a show its popularity increases (read: If Loving You’s 1.8 million viewers). The more you watch a good show, the more likely you are to keep seeing it on TV. So, if you like what you see, try to make some time to relax and enjoy a show for us/by us.
Happy TV watching!