By Jeanine Kim ’20
“All in the (black-ish) Family” was an event where producers Norman Lear P ’13 and Kenya Barris P ’19 held a panel discussion at the Middle School on Jan 11. The event was held at Saperstein Theatre and was open to the public.
Lear produced multiple sitcoms in the 70s, including “All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son” and “One Day at a Time,” the first being his most critically and commercially successful series. He is credited for introducing topics that were considered unsuitable for television audiences, such as racism, abortion and homosexuality. Due to its groundbreaking treatment of controversial issues, “All in the Family” is lauded as one of the most influential comedic series of all time.
Barris is the producer of the critically-acclaimed television series “black-ish,” and was the co-creator of “America’s Next Top Model” with Tyra Banks. “black-ish” addresses issues that many minorities face in America, both within and outside the sphere of direct racism.
During the event, Lear and Barris spoke about many aspects of the industry, ranging from the influence of the current political climate to television’s push for inclusivity and diversity.
“[The overall message of this event was] to think about issues of race – how races and in particular black people are represented (or not) on TV,” event organiser and Upper School Visual Arts Department Head Cheri Gaulke said in an email.
Clips from their shows were shown onscreen, so audience members could better understand their approaches to dealing with controversial issues. After the mediator finished her set of prepared questions, audience members asked questions as well.
“I think it’s really important for people to learn about race in media because a lot of people aren’t as aware of it, and it can be a rather controversial topic,” event attendee Ava Benavente ’20 said.