The partially animated hour-long special will be directed by Oscar winner Matthew A. Cherry and is slated to premiere October 4 on ABC.
ABC’s socially-conscious sitcom “black-ish” is currently scheduled to kick off its seventh season in late October, but it looks like the show is coming back a little early to weigh in on the upcoming election.
2019 Oscar winner Matthew A. Cherry for animated short “Hair Love” has been tapped to direct the special, which will comprise two episodes that promise to look very different. That’s because the “Part 2” of the planned “Election Special” installment will be fully animated.
The first part of the episode will follow Junior’s (Marcus Scribner) excitement at finally being old enough to vote only to find that he’s been removed from eligible voters list. This allows Junior and viewers to take a deep dive into voter registration problems that continue to plague this nation.
The second half will follow Dre’s boss Mr. Stevens (Peter Mackenzie) as he makes a bid for a Congressional seat. Let’s just say it’s a bad idea and it promises to only get worse as Dre (Anthony Anderson) and family step up to try and stop him, exploring fundraising and special interests’ influence on elections.
What remains to be seen is if the creators will take advantage of the animated format to really push the creative on this one, exploring more exaggerated fantasy elements, or if it will be more like that awkward half-animated episode of “The Blacklist” we got shortly after the pandemic halted production across Hollywood.
We expect a little better, as “black-ish” has gone animated before, though never as a full-length episode. It’s also not entirely clear why the show is doing so this time. Or why these episodes aren’t being considered the Season 7 premiere, but rather a special event outside of any season.
Was the first half filmed before production shut down last season? And with production just now ramping up for the new season, did producers simply decide not to bother filming the second half? Or is it just for the publicity of the whole thing?
Certainly it’s a challenge for any show heading into its seventh season to get any attention in this era of peak television where there’s always something starting or ending. And yet, here’s “black-ish” pulling it off for the second time in just a few weeks.
The last big story about the Kenya Barris-created sitcom was actually the reason Barris ultimately walked away from the show and ABC into a sweetheart deal with Netflix. Last month, Hulu finally dropped an episode that was supposed to air in February 2018.
At the time, Disney pulled it with almost no notice, leading fans to speculate the company was uncomfortable with its political concerns. The episode proved somewhat prescient, though, as many of its voiced concerns are now major social and political issues in this election season and it seems tame by comparison to the nightly news.
ABC has yet to announce a Season 7 premiere date for “black-ish,” but the show has already revealed it fully intends to explore all the issues that have dominated this summer beyond the election, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests fighting back against systemic racism.