After eight seasons and 175 episodes, ABC’s “Black-ish” has definitely ended its run with a real legacy. Star Tracee Ellis Ross agrees. “I really hope that our show leaves a promise of what it is to see an American family that is Black, and that we are universally identifiable,” she tells Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast. “And that even with the specificity of certain experiences, and that the universality of what it is to be, an American family can be seen through many different faces. I’m blown away by what we were able to share, and the truth of it, and how identifiable it was across the board.”
Adds Anthony Anderson: “When people walk up to me, and tell me when they see our family on screen, they see their family, that is meaningful to me. But aside from from work in what we’ve done on screen, the thing that I cherish the most is the friendships, and the relationships that I’ve developed with each and every one of my cast mates and crew proved over the eight years. That is what I will take from the show.”
On this edition of the Variety Awards Circuit podcast, “Black-ish” stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross talk about the legacy of the ABC comedy, how the show ended, and whether they hope to revisit Dre and Bow one day. After that, we chat with “Dr. Death” star Joshua Jackson about his Peacock series. Listen below!
Ross quickly became Anderson’s first choice to play his wife, Dr. Rainbow Johnson, on “Black-ish.” They long since moved on from their awkward days before the show and now sport a lasting bond that will continue long beyond the end of the series.
“It’s public knowledge that I did not like Anthony going into ‘Black-ish,'” Ross says. “We had an incident that did not land well, when we hosted an award show. I had an idea of who Anthony was. I used to describe him as ‘covered in shards of glass with a soft center.’ If he cuts you don’t tell him because you will then get obliterated. But what I have watched Anthony grow as a man and as a human being through the years. It has been the biggest delight of our time together on blackish is that Anthony and I have a really similar work ethic.
“Anthony is such a professional. Anthony knows everybody’s name. Anthony makes work a fun and wonderful place to be that feels like home. And it’s who he is,” she adds. “He and I developed just a really beautiful, respectful work relationship. And it allowed for the work that we did to feel like I could do anything, try anything, I was never going to fall… We were able to balance each other out and support each other in a way that I think it’s part of what helped us create such incredible work.”
What’s next? Anderson quickly jumped to shooting a season of “Law & Order” after “Black-ish,” and he says he jumped into that gig (which only lasted a season) in order to stay busy. “To embody this character and to be with this family for the past eight years. I didn’t want to sit back wishing and wanting and thinking about how different it could have been if we just did a little bit more. Or ‘Oh, I miss these guys. I wish I could go play with them. And I wish we could go to work right now.’ So I think that that is why I immediately went into another gig, to to help decompress. That would ease me out of being Andre Johnson. I love the people that were a part of that time with me.”
Of course, the “Black-ish” universe continues with the next evolution of “Grown-ish,” with Marcus Scribner joining the show as the focus shifts to Junior in college. Are they thinking about a quick reunion? “Whatever there might be in 20 years, we’ll sit down for a reunion. I’ll be 70 Oh, what a thought,” Ross says.
Anderson tells Ross: “Before the reunion show, I’m probably going to get all the work done that you said I was going to get done for Season 5.” What? Ross jokingly explains: “I used to joke that Anthony was going to come back one of these seasons and have his lips done and major cheekbones and his eyebrows would be really arced, and the only thing we could say was like, ‘You look so rested!'”
“Black-ish” ended its run this spring by going back to the beginning. Literally. The opening to the ABC comedy’s series finale began much in the same way the pilot did in 2014, with Dre waking up to his iPhone alarm clock, and narrating a bit about his state of mind.
In the finale, the couple decides to sell their Sherman Oaks home and move to a Black neighborhood. The Johnson kids are skeptical at first. But that’s not all. In making a change, Dre also decides to leave Stevens and Lido, and spend more time at home.
On the awards front, the show’s accolades included AFI’s top shows list; a peabody; multiple NAACP image honors; a TV Critics Association award for comedy; and countless Emmy nominations, including four for best comedy, and numerous Emmy nods for both Anderson and Ross. The show won an Emmy in 2020 for contemporary hairstyling, for the standout episode “Hair Day.”
But the real legacy of “Black-ish” is in its storytelling. “This just feels like the most beautiful end,” Ross says. “I feel so much gratitude.”
Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every Thursday and Friday.