Commentary Review: Black-ish (S1/E3)

BLACK-ISH is getting too aggressive about their premise, which is becoming a turn-off. (Source: TV Fanatic)

COLD OPEN: I’m very dizzy. You see, Black-ish has hit me over the head pretty hard with the black issues these last 3 episodes, and I’m tired of it. The first two episodes were forgivable. They were finding their groove and needed people to know the show’s primary component is the decline of black culture. But now, especially after this episode, I’m sitting here actually wondering if patriarch Dre Johnson is racist. Is he so blinded by his own struggle that he doesn’t want the current culture to move on? I mean, we’re here in episode 3 and we’re talking about a head nod. A HEAD NOD! In my opinion, these guys went backwards. Now, for me, Black-ish are back on the wild card of whether they’ll succeed or not.

ACT ONE: Dre acknowledges a passing black guy with a head nod, but Junior doesn’t do the nod, shocking Dre his son doesn’t know the proper black greeting. But Dre figures this has more to do with Junior’s lack of black friends. So the quest for black friends commences! Right from the get-go, I knew this was silly. I head-nod to white people, for Pete’s sake. It’s just a silent hello to strangers. Story B: Dre meets a newly employed black guy at work, who’s too clingy and has no boundaries. But because Dre understands blacks gotta look out for their own, he deals with it. Story C: Rainbow tries to convince Diane to be a doctor, although she wants to be like her father and work in media. This first scene with Rainbow an Diane is so on point. Diane has the acting chops for comedy.

ACT TWO: Dre attempts to get Junior black friends (from the streets, a snooty country club, and a basketball court), all unsuccessfully (and for the street one…borderline illegal). Dre’s attempts with the street and club gags were not a good style to go about this. He talks about black issues, and then has no issues with asking 12-year old boys to hop in his car for snacks at his home…I mean, Dre’s not an idiot. Though he does acknowledge the white women calling 911 on him was doing the right thing, it doesn’t make what I saw any better or funnier. I will digress that the basketball gag was pretty funny. Story B: Dre, who got the basketball idea from the new employee, invites him to a dinner after finding out he has a son the same age as Junior. I don’t know how I feel about the new employee: one hand, he’s incredibly annoying, yet it’s sad he feels alone in the new city. I have contradicting feelings. Story C: Rainbow brings Diane to work, only for Diane to run off on her own and witness death and freak accidents in the Emergency Room. Diane is so funny in this sequence. More episodes with her, please.

ACT THREE: The new employee brings his son over to hang with Junior, & Dre and Rainbow get to know the employee….way too well with his no boundaries. Once the employee crosses a line trying on Dre’s rare shoes, Dre runs upstairs to demand his son leave, only to find the two kids getting along great. So Dre realizes Junior has a different type of race deserving of head-nods: the nerd race. Ugh, I can’t even….Story C: After realizing Diane saw really sensitive, disgusting things, Rainbow’s ready for defeat, but Diane loved what she saw. And with doctors having low death liability, she decides she wants to be a doctor. Rainbow, while confused, is thrilled. And deserving so. She won with Junior in the previous episode, and she won this one. Now, to conquer Mt. Everest…her daughter Zoey. One day. As for Dre… I still can’t even…the nerd race….

THE CONCLUSION: Now, I’ve said before I would be biased towards this show because I saw myself in the show. Finally, a show reflects how I’ve felt for 18 years of my life, being in a predominantly white neighborhood and school. But instead, I get a show more concerned about shouting at me I’ve lost my way; my family struggled to get me where I am, so I should be thankful and follow the black rules. I don’t think the show’s premise is wrong in addressing how black culture is changing. But instead of using the premise as an underlying theme, they’re using it as an episodic flag, waving it aggressively in viewers’ faces until they’re uncomfortable. Episode 2 was so nice, with the sex talk and teenage communication putting the show in the right direction. Every family had those issues. But this episode took a large step backwards. It’s becoming too uncomfortable to watch now. If they can get back to where they were episode 2, this show can go up. But if they continue this way, they’ll alienate their audience.

Things That I Noticed:

  • 3 episodes in and each storyline is Dre with Junior, and Rainbow with every other kid.
  • Rainbow’s stories have ended up being more interesting and funnier than whatever Dre deals with. At least, in my opinion
  • I liked that we finally got a taste of Rainbow’s job
  • I’ve seen the family completely together only twice in 3 eps: as a picturesque family for the fake tour, and at the dinner table. Both early in episode 1. Even Modern Family has episodes with the direct families involved.
  • Jack has awesome dance moves for his age, and have his funny moments too.
  • 3 episodes in, and I still know nothing about Zoey. I’m hoping they pull what The Goldbergs did with their daughter, involving her more heavily in the 2nd half of the season. Otherwise, I feel her purpose is just to be present.

Tell me what you think: Am I being too harsh on Black-ish, or do you feel the same way too?

2 thoughts on “Commentary Review: Black-ish (S1/E3)

  1. Eh, you’re overreacting a bit.

    It’s still very early, but this show has succeeded where others haven’t: it’s got people buzzing about it and actually tuned.

    I too was initially put off by the name and early promo spots, but after watching all 3 episodes, i like it. It’s not perfect, but they got a lot of things right (Anthony Anderson and Lawrence Fishburne are spot on IMO).

    I actually thing last night’s episode should have aired last week, instead of the sex talk one. That episode is my least favorite of the three.

    Hat’s off to ABC taking a risk that seems to be paying off so far.

    1. Personally, that’s how I felt. I’ve talked to other people who’ve felt the same way; you’re the second person who’ve expressed they liked this episode. Plus, we’ve seen many buzzed shows fail. Sleepy Hollow was a huge buzz last year, and this year are falling pretty hard, and The Following before that. Then there are shows that get no buzz that do very well, The Goldbergs proving that last and this year so far. While buzz helps at first, the quality eventually catches up to you.

      I agree Anderson and Fishburne are great together, and I even like most of the characters. The argument isn’t that the show isn’t funny, b/c it has been. But it’s uncomfortable when it doesn’t intend to be (like The Office), and that overbears the comedy for me personally and most people I’ve talked to.

Talk About The Show Below

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s