by Victoria De Souza
The life of bi-racial a girl in the 1980s takes place in the television world in “Mixed-ish,” with the conflicts that her family went through in new life journey.
“Mixed-ish” is a prequel spin-off from the two series “Black-ish” and “Grown-ish.” The “ish” world of Kenya Barris is introduced through the childhood story of Rainbow Johnson, or “Bow”, played by Arica Himmel.
Created by Barris, Peter Saji and Tracee Ellis Ross, the story presents a closed look at how Bow’s life as a child with a Black mother and a white father in a society where interracial marriages were not very common.
The story is narrated by Ross, who plays the grown-up version of Bow in “Black-ish” when she is a doctor who is married with five kids. Bow tells her story to her kids, So that they know how challenging it was being biracial in the 1980s.
In 1985, when Bow was 12 years old, her life was turned upside down. She was happily living in a perfect world in a hippie commune where there was no racial differences and every one prays, eats and sleeps together. To her, this life was perfect. But to the government, it was a radicalized cult that violated more than 47 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF) regulations.
After Bow’s parents, Alicia, played by Tika Sumpter, and Paul Johnson, played by Mark Paul Gosselaar, moved to a suburban area to be able to provide a safer and better life for their family, Bow finds herself trying to find her identity.
Being a child of mixed race leads to Bow and her siblings, Santa Monica, played by Mykal-Michelle Harris, and Johan, played by Ethan William Childress, trying to find where they belong.
To Bow’s brother, Johan, the transition to the “real word” is one big adventure in discovering everything around him, from learning how to use a toilet to playing with the ice machines.
On the first day of school, the children find themselves in a situation about not fitting in with any group, since they are half Black and half white. In 1985, these two groups had a very determined separation. The journey to adapt to this new life begins for all three kids, but it is challenging for Bow to choose what side she is part of.
Living in the city, the family has more contact with Grandpa Harrison, played by Gary Colle, and Aunt Denise, played by Christina Anthony, who help the family to feel more included.
“Mixed-ish” brings a point of view not really explored much in “Black-ish,” when Bow is always mentioned to be the hippie and not considered to be fully Black. Also, it adds an extra cultural view into what it was like growing up in a mixed racial family in the 1980s, which was not considered normal.
The series has a lot of potential to grow to become as big as “Grown-ish,” since the mixed race family and children are vast parts of our society. With the changes of time, the multiracial marriages and a different perspective on the stereotypes of a traditional family, where the mother stays home and the husband is the provider, became more accepted.
Episodes are released weekly on the ABC Network and Hulu, offering a little bit more insight into Bow’s childhood.
I give “Mixed-ish” 7.5 out of 10.