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How real-life postpartum depression inspired an episode of 'Black-ish'

by Ree Hines / / Source: TODAY

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"Black-ish" may be a sitcom, but the hit series often tackles serious topics, and Tuesday night's episode continued that tradition.

The latest plot point focused on Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) and her battle with postpartum depression.

Tracee Ellis Ross
Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) feels overwhelmed after the birth of DeVante and learns she is suffering from postpartum depression on "Black-ish."ABC

The episode, titled "Mother Nature," saw Bow go from emotionally detached to intensely engaged, all while feeling a lack of control when it came to her inner struggle.

It was a raw, and if it felt real to viewers who watched it play out, that's because it was rooted in truth. Executive producer and writer Corey Nickerson penned the story around her own struggle and that of other women in the writers' room.

PaleyFest NY 2017 - "Blackish"
Executive Producer Corey Nickerson and actress Tracee Ellis Ross attend PaleyFest NY 2017 on October 9, 2017 in New York City.WireImage

"It was something that none of us had been warned about or had been (really aware of)," Nickerson explained in an interview with Variety. "Doctors didn’t really tell us it was a possibility. I’d heard of it. I didn’t really know what it was. So even when I was going through it, I didn’t really know exactly why I wasn’t right."

And that's the feeling she imparted to the character.

"We have this great character, a strong great mom, a successful doctor,” Nickerson said. “Why don’t we try to show women that it’s OK to be dealing with something like this and still be good moms?"

ANTHONY ANDERSON, TRACEE ELLIS ROSS
ABC

"They wrote from that experience," Ross told International Business Times. “It was something that they had wanted to put on the show for quite some time.”

While the 44-year-old actress hadn't been through it herself, those experiences made it real for her, too.

"I just leaned into the writing," she explained. "It was incredibly well written and when something’s incredibly well written, you just take the truth of it and you can kind of just go with it."

Watching her own performance back, the Golden Globe winner added, "It made me cry, honestly."

Nickerson told Variety, "If someone can watch the episode and say, ‘I didn’t know that it was OK for me to feel this way and to get help,’" then the show hit the mark.

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