The New Huxtables

People of color have families too. I know, it’s shocking considering how busy we are getting assaulted at our places of worship or murdered by the police, but somehow, we make the time to establish families with parents and babies and teenagers and grandparents and arguments and micromanagement and above all else, love. So what, you ask. The Huxtables have been doing this since 1980-something. Yes, they have, but then Bill Cosby had to go ruin it by being as creepy an old man is possible, and now, we need new poc-tv dads to love, and new poc-tv families to identify with (I am a hardcore Denise Huxtable, but can you really enjoy Denise when you know Bill Cosby is probably off-set drugging someone?)

In this brave new world we inhabit, where lunatics are kings and people think chocolate milk comes from brown cows, we have at least made advancements in the democratization of media, and so podcasts can’t possibly be ignored in this media roundup. They tell the stories that we don’t see on tv, and listening to these stories, whether we’re working out at the gym, in the car stuck in traffic, or cleaning our homes, humanizes us and teaches us about ourselves and how similar we all are.

  1. Black (ish): adjective, and one that perfectly sums up how it feels when you’ve “made it,” but at what feels like the cost of your authenticity as a black person. Blackish holds a special place in my heart, because I super-identify with the Claire Huxtable character of Dr. Rainbow Johnson. She’s a doctor, yes, but she’s also a neurotic space cadet who just wants her family to be happy. She’s the product of a biracial hippy couple, and having been raised in a biracial household, where the one parent of color had some self-loathing issues, I completely get why she acts the way she does, because it’s the way I act, and it’s so refreshing to see someone with my heritage who acts like me on television. Also I’m in love with Tracee Ellis Ross, and I’m going to be her one day when I grow up.

  1. See Something, Say Something is one of the few podcasts with live shows that I will actually listen to all the way through (and for me, that is definitely saying a lot). They provide commentary on pop culture, politics, and what it means to be Muslim in America- and then the host, Ahmed Ali Akbar, interviews his dad and it’s enough to move you to tears because his dad is literally an angel who constantly tells his son how wonderful he is and how much he loves him. It’s like if Cliff Huxtable was played by someone who isn’t actually a monster, only better because it’s real life. Tune in, drink some chai, catch some feelings.

  1. Fresh Off the Boat: Have you ever relocated from a situation where you weren’t a minority to somewhere that you are? The Huangs capture this feeling PERFECTLY when they relocate from Chinatown in D.C. to Florida so their dad can open a (very unsuccessful) steakhouse. For most of my career, I’ve had the benefit of constantly being around people who look like me. However, at a recent job, I was the only black person. There were other POC here, but they all worked in a completely different part of the building than I did, so for all intents and purposes they might as well have not been there. No one ever said anything that was blatantly racist, but I did hear some nonsense that it would have been nice to have another black person hear to at least confirm that I wasn’t crazy, and yes, that person did just say that terrible thing about dreads being unprofessional. You know how many times I walked in on white people discussing cornhole? The Huang family is forced to reckon with racism, neighborhood women, and puberty- all while trying to deal with being a normal family. If they can find solidarity in the chaos, and learn and grow from it, we can too- also dreads can totally be professional and that’s an awful thing to say.

  1. Do you ever wish you had siblings you didn’t know about? Mundo and Sol get more than they bargained for in Celestial Blood when they find out after their father’s funeral that they have several siblings they didn’t know about- all of whom are named after celestial bodies (hence the name of the podcast). It’s a radionovela in the spirit of other Spanish soap operas, so it’s mysterious, melodramatic, and humerous (Mundo and Sol’s dad coninues to speak from the afterlife, and let’s just say he’s slightly below six feet under). It’s a wonderful, magical adventure of family, love, and the ties that bind.

  2. Have you watched Chewing Gum yet? Why the hell not? Michaela Coel, who writes and stars in Chewing Gum, is a comedic genius IRL, but on Chewing Gum, she’s trapped with her overly religious mother and sister in a flat she desperately would love to escape if only she could get her life together (and by get her life together I mean lose her virginity). It’s cringeworthy comedy of the highest calibur, but it’s also really comforting, like “oh look, these people are really bad at life too! I can be embarrassed for them for awhile instead of myself!” It’s good to see non-white people in roles where we’re not in prison, terrorists, or deeply involved in secret government shit. Sometimes, you just want to watch someone’s mom yell at them to tell more people about their religion (which those of us raised in religious homes can tell you is totally a thing).

So yeah, fam, go watch normal brown families do normal family things as they live their lives and deal with everyone else’s bullshit, and let’s keep our fingers crossed that none of the casts tarnish the memory of the show by being terrible people. Stay safe out there.


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