Even when they're partying like it's 1999, the Johnson family takes time to address issues most network sitcoms are too timid to touch. These five episodes show the ABC series at its gutsiest — and best.

"The Word": Six-year-old Jack doesn't think twice about using the "N-word" during his rendition of Kanye West's "Gold Digger," triggering a heated debate at school and at home. It was a clear signal that creator Kenya Barris was interested in more than just generating laughs. (Season 2)

"Hope": Nearly the entire half-hour takes place around the TV set, as the family waits to hear whether a white police officer will be indicted on charges that he assaulted a young black man. Powerful, but never preachy. (Season 2)

"Mother Nature": Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep") has dominated the Emmy race for comedic actress, but Tracee Ellis Ross has become more of a contender, thanks in no small part to this episode in which her usually upbeat character deals head-on with postpartum depression. (Season 4)

"Juneteenth": Before jamming to "Kiss," the cast embarked on a musical opus in an entirely different key, one that used a stripped-down stage and revved-up choreography to commemorate the holiday that marks the date slavery was officially abolished in Texas. (Season 4)

"Dream Home": A four-episode arc in which our usually happy couple seriously contemplated divorce was a radical departure that didn't always work. But it ultimately paid off with this heart-tugging happy ending. (Season 4)

Neal Justin

Where to watch

Repeats can be streamed on Hulu and Amazon Prime. Episodes air locally on KSTC, Ch. 45, as well as FXX and BET.