"You lied to me," Anthony Anderson bellows to the crew chief with faux annoyance. We're in the backyard of a swanky Burbank home, where Anderson has been treading water in the shallow-end of the wide built-in pool for hours. He and a crew of set technicians, writers, directors, and extras have been filming the climactic scene of the Feb. 10 episode of black-ish for so many takes and cuts that he’s had to change into dry copies of the same shirt in between. When lunch came, he thought he’d be done for the day. Not so. He's got to get back into the pool, and back into character as Dre, patriarch of the Johnsons, the comfortably middle-class black family living in the 'burbs, and pretend to drown for several more takes while his youngest child saves him, and her twin and his wife watch on in comedic horror.

How does Dre find himself in this precarious position? Well, because, in keeping with the stereotype, he doesn't know how to swim. And yet, here he is in this pool, one of few black faces around, because when a casually racist white neighbor invited him to her pool party—after he confronted her about neglecting to invite his family at all—her offhand query, "Can you swim?" is met with an automatically indignant, "of course." Dre’s neighbor asked a harmless question that was subliminally offensive, and Dre reflexively rejected a stereotype, even though it happened to be true in his case. Such is the comedic tension of black-ish.

When black-ish debuted, some expected a series that would pick up the slack, boldly tackling relevant social issues and re-claiming the conversation. As the series moved forward, it defined itself less on a political agenda, and more as an autobiography. The series follows Anderson as Dre, a Compton native turned Sherman Oaks resident with a cushy job, brilliant doctor wife named Rainbow, and four kids. The exact same sentence could be said to describe Kenya Barris—only, he has five kids. And his cushy job? Screenwriting, obviously, instead of Dre’s gig as an ad man. But that’s not to say a complete one-to-one imitation wasn’t considered: “I wanted him to be a television writer. It was based on my own life, but we felt like that wouldn’t resonate with America in the same way that advertising does,” Kenya admits.