On Tuesday, Emmy winning sitcom Black-ish celebrated its 100th episode with a tribute to late musical legend Prince. Throughout the episode, each member of the Johnson family came sporting their best recreations of the award-winning musician’s iconic looks while performing such hits as “Kiss,” “Purple Rain,” and “Erotic City.” The show positioned the musical numbers as part of the family’s effort to educate the two youngest Johnsons, Jack (Miles Brown) and Diane (Marsai Martin), on the significance of Prince’s legacy.
The idea for a Prince-themed episode arose from creator Kenya Barris’ experience at a dinner with friends where a twentysomething attendee didn’t recognize the pop legend’s voice as his music played over the restaurant intercom. “Kenya actually gave him a list of songs he had to listen to,” executive producer Kenny Smith Jr. tells Vulture in an interview before the milestone episode aired. “He went through Purple Rain and Sign O’ The Times, and he was a huge Prince fan by the end.”
Black-ish’s showrunners seemed to have a simple experience getting the rights to use Prince’s music despite the seemingly endless legal and ethical turmoil surrounding what the legend left behind. “I believe Kenya and one of our music supervisors had a relationship with the estate,” Smith explains. It’s unclear whether Prince would’ve been totally accepting of the use of his music, as he was notably protective of his work during his life. However, Prince’s friendship with Anthony Anderson, who stars as Dre on the show does provide a bit of implied blessing. Smith didn’t count out the possibility of another musical tribute episode in the future… Aretha, perhaps?