Tracee Ellis Ross

Tracee Ellis Ross

While ABC”s black-ish had its fourth season premiere last week, the show really kicks into gear this week, with the episode “Mother Nature,” as we truly start to see the integration of baby DeVante into the Johnson family. In the episode, Bow is feeling overwhelmed after the birth of DeVante and learns she is suffering from postpartum depression. Dre urges her to get help and stands by her side while she works through it. Meanwhile, the kids babyproof the house in an effort to help their parents out.

The show has made a name by addressing big complicated social issues in a brutally honest way. But humor is found by extremism and hypocrisy on any side of any issue. Tonight’s episode is different. Instead of dealing with major social issues, it deals with something that has a profound effect on a character we have come to know and love over the past four seasons. This makes the episode very different.

It still features humor and the typical character beats, Junior overreacts, Pops gets angry, and Diane is evil, but because this issue hits close to home we see a more fleshed out version of the characters, particularly from Star Tours legend Jennifer Lewis. At one point we expect the episode to follow the formula we have come to expect, and the character appropriately says, “not this time.”

With a black-ish spinoff coming to Freeform, the show has already made a big impact on the ABC family. It does it by not shying away from thorny issues, but never approaching these complicated topics without a sense of humor.

While the cast delivers a strong performance in tonight’s episode, special recognition should be given to Tracee Ellis Ross who delivers a multi-faceted performance in a situation where it could be easy to give a one-note presentation.