“Mixed-ish” made its premiere on Tuesday, Sept. 24, marking the second spinoff from ABC’s hit “Black-ish.” Freeform’s “Grown-ish,” which debuted in 2018, was the first branch out into the “-ish” universe. The series moved the characters forward, following the Johnsons’ eldest daughter Zoey (Yara Shahidi), as she went off to college. “Mixed-ish” travels back to the past in a look at the life of Rainbow Johnson, played by Tracee Ellis Ross on “Black-ish.” As the cast explained during the PaleyFest Fall TV Previews in Los Angeles, it allows them to tackle important issues while conjuring up some seriously fun ’80s nostalgia.
“Mixed-ish” stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Paul Johnson), Tika Sumpter (Alicia Johnson), Christina Anthony (Denise), Arica Himmel (Bow Johnson), Ethan William Childress (Johan Johnson), Mykal-Michelle Harris (Santamonica Johnson), and Gary Cole (Harrison Johnson). The cast, along with executive producers Peter Saji and Karin Gist, recently celebrated the arrival of the show with fans at the PaleyFest Fall TV Previews.
“Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris, Tracee Ellis Ross,
Back to the Future
“This is a story that I connect to in a very personal way,” Peter Saji told The Burn-In during the Sept. 14 event. “I get the pleasure of writing for a character that I’ve gotten to write for, for the past five years—Rainbow Johnson, and seeing how she became the person that we already know. Now I get a chance to work with Tracy Ellis Ross on a different level, as a collaborator. So, it’s been really exciting.”
Diving into Bow’s past opens up the door for deep discussions
Getting into the whole ’80s vibe was more natural for some of the cast members than it was for others. For Harris and Childress (who play Bow’s younger siblings), it was a learning experience. “One time, I was walking around set, and I asked Tika [Sumpter], ‘What’s that?’” Childress recalled. “She said, ‘It’s a phone.’ I’m like, how do you walk around your house with your phone then?” he said with a chuckle, pointing out that the phone had a chord.
Veteran actor Gary Cole tells The Burn-In, having to immerse himself back into the ’80s has been an “interesting” experience. “Especially the fashion,” he joked. “In a way, [the ’80s] becomes a character itself on the show,” Cole continued. “There are a lot of historical buttons that are pushed in the stories that are being told by the writers. It’s almost the perfect ingredient to tell the unique story about this family. There are so many levels going on. You’ve got a family with a unique cultural circumstance. They were protected in the bubble of a commune and are forced into a new world, unique to themselves. And it’s told in a flashback.”
Mark-Paul Gosselaar teased that throughout the season, the show is going to get very nostalgic. “There’s an organic quality to the show; nothing feels forced. But, we are taking place in 1985,” he tells The Burn-In. “Music is a big part of the show, so I think that will drive a familiarity for certain people. Some of the clothes and some of the topics that we’re discussing on the show still feel relatable to the things that we’re dealing with today,” he added.
Of course, there is a comedic twist to it. “That’s what so special about the ‘ish’ universe, is that they’re able to teach a lesson all through comedy and make you not even aware of it,” he continued. “You’re being enlightened.”
Terms of Endearment
Beau Bridges originally played Gosselaar’s character on “Black-ish.” The former “Saved by the Bell” star says he took into account Bridges’ rhythms and patterns when he
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