Since its premiere, “Black-ish” has been hailed for it’s ability to deftly handle important social issues within the restricting confines of a 30-minute broadcast sitcom, and that was once again on display in last year’s episode “Being Bow-racial.”
The episode, which saw Tracee Ellis Ross’ character taking the lead from her husband, brought an important and nuanced discussion of colorism in the black community to ABC’s wider audience.
“The ‘Being Bow-racial’ episode was really, really fun,” Ross said in an interview with TheWrap. “Being able to explore that part of my character … and getting to meet more of Bow’s family.”
The episode saw the Johnson family matriarch grappling with her biracial identity after her son brings home a white girlfriend. Throughout the episode, she turns to her family for guidance, including brother Johan, played by “Hamilton” alum Daveed Diggs.
“First of all, I loved him,” Ross said of Diggs’ recurring guest arc. “I actually got to see him in the original cast of ‘Hamilton,’ and he popped off the stage. And he was extraordinary then, but close-up and in person as my brother, I think [was] spot on.”
Though Bow initially comes off in a bad light when she balks at her son’s interracial relationship, by episode’s end it becomes clear that her issues stem from a much deeper place. It takes a conversation with her white father, played by guest star Beau Bridges, for Bow to realize that her problems with her son’s girlfriend are an expression of internalized doubts of her own blackness and how it’s viewed by the world.
“Looking at Bow through the lens of ‘Being Bow-racial’ in that episode and exploring and telling a story through her eyes was really fun,” Ross said. “And being able to expand on that throughout the rest of the season with my family was exciting.”