By Patrick Gomez
September 23, 2019 at 03:58 PM EDT
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Being the new kid can be hard, especially if you just moved to town because your family’s peaceful commune (or “radicalized cult,” if you ask the government) was recently broken up by the feds. And things can get exponentially worse if it’s 1985 and you have a black mom and a white dad and no concept of what being “mixed” means. That’s what mixed-ish‘s Rainbow (Arica Himmel) and her siblings (Ethan William Childress and Mykal-Michelle Harris) are working with as they start school in the premiere of this new comedy. “They’re fish out of water,” says showrunner Karin Gist. “We’re telling a story about identity and trying to figure yourself out when you don’t really know where you fit in.”

Magdalena Wosinska for EW

As for where mixed–ish fits in, it’s the second spin-off of black-ish. Unlike Freeform’s grown-ish, which follows eldest Johnson daughter Zoey (Yara Shahidi) and just concluded its second season, this new series is a prequel that focuses on a 12-year-old version of Tracee Ellis Rossblack-ish character. “Tracee really wants to be a part of it creatively,” Gist says of the mixed–ish EP, who herself is of mixed heritage. “She visited the writers’ room and shared some of her personal experiences.” Ross’ Bow narrates the series, which also stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tika Sumpter as Rainbow’s parents (the older versions of which are played by Beau Bridges and Anna Deavere Smith on black-ish), as well as Gary Cole and Christina Anthony as her grandpa and aunt.

Gist looks forward to exploring more than racial politics through the retro lens, “like the Challenger explosion and other social issues, to see how our characters react.” But don’t have a cow, ’80s fans — she also promises a rad soundtrack and wardrobe. “Oh,” Gist says with a laugh. “We’re having fun with it.”

Brian Bowen Smith/ABC

mixed-ish premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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