Netflix Show ‘Family Reunion' Takes on Racial Issues

NBC Universal, Inc.

At a time when the country is deeply engaged in conversations of justice and equity.  We talk to the show creator about how and why this family sitcom took on the issue of young Black boys being stopped by police. 

Given that there was a gun allegation, the grand rapids police chief said the officers actions were appropriate. 

Family Reunion has been renewed for another season. 

“As much as I want to have a show that makes people laugh and feel good I also had a responsibility also as well to explore some of the darker things that happen when you are a child of color,” said Meg Deloatch, showrunner for the sitcom. 

When Hollywood veteran Meg Deloatch was approached by Netflix to create a Black family sitcom, she assembled an all Black writing staff. 

“My first responsibility as an all Black writers room in this unique setting having this unique opportunity is to tell our story”, said Sa’Rah Jones, a staff writer for the show. 

Many story lines in “Family Reunion” are rooted in real and personal experiences -  like moving back home to raise your kids near family or being Black and fair skinned.  

“That was a behind the scenes kind of painful discussion and do we want to air our dirty laundry? And do we want to put this out there? Ultimately we decided yes we do we want to tell our story our way,” said Deloatch.

Jones says it’s rewarding to tell these stories in a show designed for families and children. 

“We need to show them that they're beautiful, that they're important, that their stories matter,” Jones said. 

Deloatch - a mother to a six year old - chose to end her first season with a story about young Black kids being confronted by police with guns drawn. 

“It hurt me so badly I went into work and i turned it on in the writer's room and we just you know it wasn't about a story back then we were just angry and venting” Deloatch said.  

After reports of young teens in the area with a gun, including one in a red shirt, police surround and handcuff three boys, including two 11-year-olds. 

Deloatch says she could not let go of how scared this boy sounded. 

The unarmed boys were released.

“Season one episode 10  deals with these beautiful boys who are being racially profiled, accused of breaking into their grandmother's house because they got locked out,” Deloatch said. “In no way did i want to vilify an institution -  but it's a conversation that I have to have one day with my little boy, or maybe not, depending on how things go with this social revolution that we're in.” 

While Hollywood, and the country have made attempts at racial equity on screens and on the streets in the past, Deloatch says this moment feels radically different.

“The fact that the protests have been sustained as long as they have and that they are as diverse as they are and so full of young people - it really does feel different -  and I feel very hopeful. 

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