MIXED-ISH, on ABC Tuesdays in its first season, is spun off from the network’s long-running comedy BLACK-ISH. Tracee Ellis Ross, who co-created MIXED-ISH with BLACK-ISH creator Kenya Barris and Peter Saji, narrates from the point of view of her BLACK-ISH character, Rainbow, who is played as a child in the new series by Arika Himmel. MIXED-ISH chronicles the adventures of Bow’s family – siblings Johan (Ethan William Childress) and Santamonica (Mykal-Michelle Harris), and their parents, black mom Alicia (Tika Sumpter) and white dad Paul (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) – as they navigate the change from commune living to ‘80s suburbia.
Randall Keenan Winston, one of MIXED-ISH’s executive producers (his other credits include SCRUBS, COUGAR TOWN, GRACE AND FRANKIE, and ROSEANNE), tells us why he’s excited about working on the family comedy.
RANDALL KEENAN WINSTON: I have to be most excited about what I think is the number one new comedy, MIXED-ISH. Right now, it feels like such a great time to be on network. I feel like we’ve landed in a great place at the beginning of the year.
ASSIGNMENT X: To be on network as opposed to …?
WINSTON: As opposed to when you’re doing eight or ten or thirteen episodes on streaming. I love being on network.
AX: Is it difficult to maintain the pace necessary to get all those episodes done, or it’s just fun?
WINSTON: Yes, it is difficult. But it’s fun. It can be both.
AX: What have you had the most fun doing on MIXED-ISH?
WINSTON: Well, in a first-season show, I think the building of the family is really the most fun. The writers – the execution of the writing side has been so amazing. Seeing that [writers’] room gel and find the stories that are specific to our show, and universal at the same time, seeing that come together. Seeing our cast, when we got the back-nine pickup, when everybody’s shoulders go down, and they play a little bit more on set. Seeing the kids get comfortable in their own skin, being on the show. I love all of that.
AX: In what we’ve seen so far, do you have a favorite episode or scene?
WINSTON: I love the MIXED-ISH hair episode. The line that Peter Saji wrote for the end of the episode, which is, “All hair is good hair,” I feel like just states it so beautifully about taking your otherness and championing it, and not letting yourself be judged by outside forces.
AX: Is there a MIXED-ISH character that’s particularly popped for you?
WINSTON: I can’t answer this [pick a single character]. I think it’s sort of in pairs. Seeing Mark-Paul and Tika as a couple is delicious. Mikal-Michelle Harris is a force. we’re going to be hearing from her for a long time. She is adorable, and smart, and she’s a true actress, and has great comic timing. Gary Cole [who plays Paul’s father, Harrison Jackson III] is such a professional. Christina Anthony [who plays Alicia’s sister, Denise] – she has exploded onto the scene, and she is creative, and improvisational and makes each little decision so funny, and she’s so good with all the cast. I think she raises it.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about the rest of this season of MIXED-ISH?
WINSTON: I would love them to know that we’re just hitting our stride, and we’re going to get better, and our family wants to stay.
This interview was conducted during ABC’s party for the Winter 2020 Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour.
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Related: Exclusive Interview with BLACK-ISH star Marsai Martin on Season 3
Related:Interview with BLACK-ISH creator Kenya Barris
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Article: Exclusive Interview with MIXED-ISH executive producer Randall Keenan Winston on Season 1