The Black-ish spin-off’s first episode was Freeform’s biggest series launch in two years, earning the most total viewers since sci-fi series Shadowhunters in 2016. The series is also Freeform’s best comedy debut in the nearly six years since Baby Daddy in June 2012. It opened as Wednesday’s number one scripted series on cable television among women ages 18 to 49, and was the strongest series launch on basic cable for that demographic since April 2014. It also generated 4.5 million views across linear and digital platforms, which is the best digital debut in Freeform history. And, it was the most social cable series on television on Wednesday, with 214,000 engagements across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr.
As consumers of mainstream media, advocating for the types of shows that we want to see on television is more important than ever. According to Color of Change’s study Race in the Writer’s Room: How Hollywood Whitewashes the Stories That Shape America, out of 234 broadcast, cable, and scripted series from the 2016-17 season, only one-third of the shows had at least one Black writer. In fact, Black writers accounted for only 4.8 percent of the 3,817 full-time staff on those shows, and the majority of them worked on shows led by Black showrunners, who are themselves only 5.1 percent of the show boss pool. This lack of representation is directly correlated to the lack of diverse storylines that we see on television.
With the show being executive produced by two Black men (Kenya Barris and Larry Wilmore) and crafted by a diverse writing room, it’s more proof that when someone other than a white man is in charge, the product can be incredible—and successful.
“The writers’ room is gender-balanced,” Yara Shahidi told Teen Vogue. “We have a female [executive producer], young directors are coming in, and all of these beautiful different voices are being heard. We’re really trying to get this right from start to finish.”