'Black-ish' to Air Animated Election Special Ahead of Season Debut

Black-ish - Publicity still - H 2020

Black-ish will air a pair of special episodes — one of them animated — in early October prior to its official premiere later in the fall.

The hourlong special will focus on the upcoming election, with Junior (Marcus Scribner) embarking on his journey as a first-time voter and Dre (Anthony Anderson) exploring local politics. Both the live-action and animated portions of the special will be directed by Oscar winner Matthew A. Cherry (Hair Love).

The special is scheduled to air Oct. 4, although that's subject to change depending on the NBA Finals schedule on ABC. The network has yet to set an official premiere date for season seven of Black-ish, or any of its scripted series, as production slowly ramps back up during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In the first half of the hour, Junior is excited to vote for the first time but discovers he's been purged from the voter rolls. He takes a deep dive into why it happened, trying to understand the systems in place for voter registration.

The animated second episode will have Dre's boss, Mr. Stevens (Peter MacKenzie), making an ill-advised run for Congress. Dre enlists his family's help to oppose him, but gets caught up with fundraising and interest groups.

Eric Horsted wrote part one of "Election Special"; Graham Towers and Ben Deeb penned the animated second part.

Black-ish has incorporated animated elements into the show in the past, but the series has never done a fully animated episode in its six seasons.

News of the election special comes three weeks after a previously shelved episode of the show, "Please, Baby, Please," was released on Hulu. ABC scuttled the episode before its original February 2018 airdate, leading to speculation that its political message was too strident and helping precipitate series creator Kenya Barris' exit from what was then called ABC Studios (now ABC Signature) for Netflix.

Once the episode debuted, however, The Hollywood Reporter chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg noted, "What could have caused wariness among ABC executives? I honestly haven't the faintest idea."

The show's forthcoming seventh season will also address the coronavirus pandemic, systemic racism and the movement for social justice through the lens of the Johnson family. The ABC Signature series is executive produced by Barris, Courtney Lilly, Laura Gutin Peterson, Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Helen Sugland, E. Brian Dobbins and Michael Petok.