[Warning! Big spoilers ahead about the next season of black-ish. Stop reading now if you don't want to know what happens!]
Some of black-ish's biggest storylines from Season 4 played out off screen. In one, ABC and creator/executive producer Kenya Barris agreed to shelve an episode that dealt with football players kneeling to address police brutality, and in another, black-ish's network sibling Roseanne fired shots at black-ish and Fresh off the Boat with a joke that didn't go over well at all. In the time since, Barris went to Netflix, Roseanne got canceled and well, the situation with police hasn't gotten much better. And though black-ish producers told TV Guide at the Television Critics Association summer press tour that they weren't sure if the kneeling episode will ever see the light of a flatscreen, black-ish is again planning to address interactions with police, as it did in its 2016 episode "Hope," when it returns.
Producers Kenny Smith and Jonathan Groff, who've individually worked with Barris and/or black-ish over the years, will lead the writers' room next season and said that Barris remains on-hand to talk through stories or maintain the spirit of the show. "His voice is important," Groff said since, after all, "there's no other show on the air attempting to tell his life story." His spirit remains, and that'll be reflected in the big new yarns coming, like an episode that deals with the wave of incidents involving white people calling the police on black people. There's a twist though: Andre (Anthony Anderson), finds himself torn when he wants to report some suspicious activity in rental property down the street, but has mixed feelings about doing so because the neighbors are black.
Other scoop: Junior (Marcus Scribner) sets off to Howard University in Washington D.C., but quickly comes home. The whole Johnson family drops him off and then...returns home to find Junior in the kitchen, announcing he's taking a gap year. "Now we have the family dealing with something they never imagined any of their children doing," Groff said, and as Junior spends his time goofing off aimlessly, Dre forces him to come to work with him at his advertising firm. Twins Jack (Miles Brown) and Diane (Marsai Martin) head to middle school, where they find they're not in the same social strata as they used to be, and Bo (Tracee Ellis Ross) makes new friends and allies back in her somewhat bonkers workplace.
Black-ish's 100th episode, slated to air Nov. 13, promises to be a big one: it'll be experimental in format like its stunning Season 4 premiere, land lean heavily into music plus feature a "major" guest star.
black-ish returns for Season 5 Tuesday October 16 at 9/8c on ABC.