In the ’50s, NBC was the first network to ban the N-word from its radio waves. In the ’70s, NBC sitcom “Sanford & Son” used the word several times, with no shortage of controversy. This week, the word was used several times on NBC’s critically acclaimed drama "Parenthood."
At no point was the hateful, aggressive word used out of hate or aggression. It was, instead, used to propel a storyline that explored the meaning of the word in 2012 and the complications of explaining a devastating history to a very young child. Within the context of that story, “Parenthood” also addressed white privilege in a refreshing uninhibited way.
This is ground that hasn’t been covered on broadcast TV, and a story that sticks with the viewer in the best way, making you think about history, experience, and internalized racism without a “very special episode” vibe. Any parent would do well to watch this expertly written and acted episode.