As a millennial, we lived in the golden age of family television. Friday nights consisted of popcorn and crowding around the television in our playroom to watch TGIF. Ahh…the nostalgia. The Family Matters and Boy Meets Worlds tended to stay pretty light in the early seasons as far as controversial, real life events were concerned. Aside from some “very special episodes” they didn’t really dive into topics like race, sex, divorce, and adoption.
Fast forward to today. My Friday nights with my own family don’t differ as much; we still get popcorn and crowd around the television. But when we watch Modern Family, Blackish, and Fresh off the Boat, some interesting conversation results. I get these shows may have some adult themes, but it can’t be any worse than the nonsense that’s floating around on YouTube.
But for our family it does a few things:
There’s very, very few shows that depict a nuclear family household of two successful black parents (if you can name more on network TV let me know). So when we watch Blackish my son can relate to the silly antics of the younger kids and tell me that the mommy on that show looks like his mommy (which is high praise since Tracee Ellis Ross is a goddess), it shows that there are people on TV that look like him. When you’re a minority that is huge.
Because of Modern Family we’ve been able to have very matter of fact conversations around divorce, adoption, and even gay marriage. With my six-year-old. These are things he wouldn’t have necessarily been exposed to, but we’re living real life. I would rather he have these conversations with his parents than to say something rude or offensive to others. Maybe he could even educate others. Having an episode of a show be a catalyst for this dialogue actually wipes out the need to make it “a big deal.”
The same way I don’t have to be an Indian-American to love Master of None, you don’t have to be black to watch Blackish or Asian to watch Fresh off the Boat. It can be intimidating seeing a minority cast and feeling like you can’t relate, but that simply isn’t true. This is a great opportunity to learn about another culture in the comfort of your own home.
Raising our kids not to see color or to not acknowledge our variances doesn’t and hasn’t worked. We can respectfully recognize our differences and see the beauty in that. Do some self-reflection and ask yourself, do I or my kids have friends of different backgrounds? If not, you can always start with your television.