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Marcus Scribner Talks About the End of 'Black-ish' and its Impact on the Culture

After a seven-year run, it was announced that the hit ABC television series Black-ish will conclude after its upcoming eighth season. The series has aired 162 episodes to date, reaching over two million viewers a week, leading to two spin-off series Grown-ish and Mix-ish. The show examines race, class, gender norms, politics, and more controversial issues through the world of an affluent Black family, forcing important discussions within and outside the homes of Black viewers. It's Black-ish's bold approach that has impacted not only defining what Black culture is, but inspiring viewers to celebrate their Blackness proudly. Marcus Scribner, who has portrayed Andre Johnson Jr. since the beginning of the series, reflected on how the series managed to change the culture, transitioning from young teen star to adult actor and more.

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Before Black-ish came along, there hadn't been many television shows showing upper-middle-class African American families dealing with sociopolitical issues since The Cosby Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ended in the 1990s. Speaking on Black-ish, specifically his character Junior having the same cultural impact as The Cosby Show, Scribner said, "I think it brings a positive representation for young Black men on television and somebody to look up to which I hold very near and dear to my heart. And Black-ish as a whole talks about the most topical issues and things that are going on in the country, and around the world that are affecting Black people and people of all colors and families in general. I think that'll leave an everlasting stamp."

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Some of the issues that Black-ish has tackled include police brutality, light-skin privilege and colorism, voting, and the controversial presidential elections, which not only struck a nerve with viewers but with network executives and politicians alike. But Scribner expressed that it's the differences in perspectives amongst the characters who span different generations that make them relatable. “We don't approach it from one side, all of our characters have different points of view. And we discuss them and we break them down, and we figure out how we feel about them, and sometimes we may not agree, sometimes we will agree. But the important part is that we've discussed them, and we're figuring out how to better approach things. And I think it allows families at home to do the same thing, which is a really powerful tool.”

While topics like certain temporary cultural fads and meme-worthy moments have represented times that seem far in the past, there are many topics discussed on Black-ish like police brutality that is still prevalent today, despite being examined on the show years ago. Aside from police brutality and injustice remaining within the culture, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a current issue that has affected the series, and how the show dealt with it seems to have a longstanding impact on viewers and ultimately the culture. "I didn't expect that to go so widespread, but a lot of the essential workers were telling us how impactful that episode was," Scribner said in regards to the series episode dealing with the pandemic.

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When Black-ish first premiered in 2014, Scribner was 14 years old, however, he began acting at age seven. Now as a 21-year-old adult and as Black-ish draws to a conclusion, Scribner is making the transition from teen roles to adult roles. "I've definitely been looking for more dramatic roles, more comedic roles, just showing my range, which is really exciting for me to step out and show people what I can really do." One of Scribner's recent roles was in the film Farewell Amor, which went to the Sundance Film Festival.

Scribner also started his own production company with his father called Scribner Productions, in which the duo has been adapting novels as well as producing films and television shows. "Our goal is really to uplift young Black voices and bring them to the forefront of media and tell their stories and share their experiences and allow people to relate and connect because I feel like that's what it's all about," Scribner said. Marcus has a promising career ahead of him and we're looking forward to seeing where he goes next on his journey.

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