As “Black-ish” continues its climb toward 100 episodes and celebrates a recent Season 3 renewal, the show has no plans for changing its winning formula: Humor and awareness with an often timely bent. Now, with O.J. Simpson once again dominating headlines, the show’s executive producer is hoping to use the Crime of the Century as a “Rorschach Test” for the Johnson family.
Speaking with Zap2it, executive producer Jonathan Groff explained that the show will sometimes target a topic (police brutality, the n-word), then let ideas develop until they are ripe enough to be scripted. Speaking with great enthusiasm for the idea, Groff makes it sound like an OJ episode may be near its fruition.
“We realized that it was the 20th anniversary of the O.J. trial a little late,” he laments. “The show that’s on now, ‘American Crime Story,’ is so compelling to people. I think we wished we had been ahead of that.”
But according to Groff, he’s still convinced they can make it work. “Maybe there’s still time to talk about how that story reverberated,” he explains, giving a possible sneak peek at how Simpson’s October 1995 acquittal affected the characters played by Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson. “[We’d see] Bo’s reaction when she was in college via flashback, [and it] would be different than Dre’s reaction when he was in college.”
“[We’d] kinda use that as a lens to talk about the differences between them,” he adds, clearly enthused by the possibility. “I think that’s something we could still do. It’s interesting, because that story and the ways people interpreted that event are still active and still going on.”
Groff was intrigued not only by the recent O.J. revival around the verdict’s anniversary, but also by the headline-grabbing knife discovery that became a trending topic two decades after the crime took place. “Isn’t that crazy?” he says. “It’s like a cultural Rorschach test — what do you see when you see this case?”
In many ways, it would be an interesting jumping-off point for the “Blackish” writers.
“The way people look at things is through different lenses, I think that’s where our country is now. And a lot of that started with O.J.,” Groff says. “A lot of white people were shocked at the way their black friends were like ‘We’re glad it worked out that way,’ in terms of the verdict. And a lot of black people were like ‘Can’t you understand why we wanted to win this one?’ Even I, with my black friends, was like ‘Oh, really? I didn’t realize that!’”
So stay tuned to “Blackish,” and perhaps soon you’ll see what Dre and Bo were up to in October of 1995. “I don’t know if we’ll get around to it,” Groff cautions. “But that’s one of those things that could be interesting.”