This week’s episode (Season 4, Episode 2) of Emmy-nominated Black-ish brought the subject of postpartum depression to light in a real and impactful way. Critics and mothers are applauding actor Tracee Ellis Ross for sharing such truth.
I love the show Black-ish. It addresses real-life family issues head-on — which more and more these days seems like a difficult task. I love that it opens my (and America’s) eyes to issues of race, and shows how family can be defined in many different ways.
Now I love it for talking about postpartum depression in such a real way. Tracee Ellis Ross plays a successful doctor and mother who is going through postpartum depression with her fifth child. Ross says that postpartum depression is something that’s not talked about enough, though is certainly prevalent, and she is glad that the show addresses it.
So am I. Even though Black-ish is a family comedy, the reality of life is that even in the best of situations, life has its ugly parts. In the show, Ross’s character, Bow, called postpartum a ‘really crappy part of life,’ when talking with her kids, and that the show didn’t shy away from that fact makes it so relatable to many women wondering why they are dealing with it in the ‘happiest’ time of their life.
Through meaningful and truthful conversations throughout the episode, viewers learn that postpartum depression is non-discriminatory, impacts the entire family and is excruciatingly hard for many women to not only admit, but to seek help for. Showing Bow getting the help, but not having instant ‘fix’ as many plotlines are apt to do also encourages women (and men) watching and lets them know that postpartum depression is treatable, but not overnight.
Most powerful were scenes between Ross’s character and those with her mother-in-law, played by Jenifer Lewis. Lewis’s character oversteps bounds and feeds Bow’s baby formula, and that culminates in a tipping point for Bow, as she admits that motherhood is hard and she is struggling, but overstepping boundaries in family relationships are still not okay, and she was not ‘overreacting.’ Lewis’s character eventually realizes this, and poignantly apologizes to Bow, but not without leaving every watching mother who can relate tear up with just how realistic their scene was.
It’s not often that a comedy can hit the mark on something so important and not-funny in a way that’ll leave you tearing up and laughing at the same time, but Black-ish has done it. In doing so, it’s given validation and encouragement to mothers everywhere, whether facing postpartum depression or not, and that’s good for motherhood any day of the week.