‘black-ish’ Slays Its Musical Season Premiere — 4×01: Juneteenth

ABC’s hit family comedy black-ish, returned for its fourth season, and straight out the gate we knew black-ish wasn’t here to play. Anyone who has watched previous seasons knows that when it comes to discussing race and politics, the writers don’t play it safe, no matter how uncomfortable some people may feel. This first episode, titled ‘Juneteenth’, proves this season will be no different.

The episode opened at a school recital, where Jack and Diane are taking part in a play, to celebrate Columbus Day. As Ruby takes part in her favorite hobby of throwing shade at Bow, Dre and Pops comment on America celebrating a ‘slavery pioneer’ like Columbus, while important days like Juneteenth are ignored.

Leading up to the premiere, there were promotional images that hinted at the episode being a historical and political musical, similar to Hamilton. But I can honestly say that I had no idea what was to come. The first song ‘Juneteenth’ was performed by special guest star, Grammy nominated Aloe Blacc and the legendary music group, The Roots. Dramatized as a School House Rock cartoon, we learn it was on June 19th, 1865 that slaves in America truly became free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

Throughout the episode, viewers were reminded that it was enslaved Black people who built America into what it is today, as sung in ‘We Built This’. In ‘I’m Just a Slave’, the cast sang the promise of “forty acres and a mule”, and freedom from oppression. As the episode progressed, I had the sobering thought that once freed, our ancestors had no idea the hardships they and their descendants would continue to face because of the color of their skin.

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After a thought-provoking and hilarious discussion with his work mates, Dre returns home slightly discouraged. Bow reminds him that White people are uncomfortable discussing slavery, so the reticence he faced was a given. Instead of waiting for an apology that might never come, Bow suggests the family celebrate ‘Juneteenth’ for themselves, which they do with a backyard bbq and strawberry soda.

My Episode Musings

  1. Harriett Tubman makes a brief appearance. Let me know if you spot her.
  2. I wonder if there is a limit to how many times Dre can make Bow exasperated?
  3. I need someone to make gifs of Connie’s expressions, they were hilarious.
  4. What’s up with the strawberry soda?

black-ish shows every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET, to stream the songs featured in the episode click here.

Follow the show on Twitter @black_ishABC 

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