This episode of BLACK-ISH was a bit tough to watch. The show has never shied away from showing Dre as a flawed human being, a father who often messes up, despite his good intentions. This week, he lets his ego blind him from seeing both Zoey and Junior’s achievements. Zoey’s waited too long to get an internship that will look good on her college applications, so Bow asks him to use his connections at work to hook her up with something. She tried using her connections at the hospital, only to find that she doesn’t have the clout she thought she did. In one of the better jokes of the episode, her supervisor thinks her name is “Rambo.”
Dre initially refuses. He worked hard to get where he is, without anyone’s help or any sort of leg up, and he appreciates his success and all the things that come with it more for that struggle. But after a conversation at work, where he realizes that white people have always used connections—Mr. Stevens says his son will need to work his way to CEO, but he’s starting as a senior vice president—while black people have had to struggle, he decides to help out. Learning that Charlie is a possible 72-year-old (he’s never seen his birth certificate and references things like Pam-Am and seeing Janis Joplin) who’s still paying off a TV only motivates him further.
He gets Zoey an internship at Teen Vogue, telling her new employers to treat her like garbage. He wants her to start from the bottom, just like he did. It’s a fine sentiment with good intentions, but him yelling at the Teen Vogue employee to throw hot coffee on his daughter is a bit much. When Dre learns that Zoey has been promoted after only a week, he really loses it. Assuming that she only got the promotion because of his reputation, not because of her hard work, and wanting her to realize that things don’t work like that in the real world, he marches down to the Teen Vogue offices to give the editor-in-chief a piece of his mind.
The editor, played by real-life editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth, has no idea who Dre is and promoted Zoey on her own merits. Of course she did! Teen Vogue is a perfect place for Zoey. She’s always been incredibly fashionable and tapped into the latest social media trends. If Dre wasn’t so blinded by ego, he would have noticed that. Zoey hears him ranting and raving about how Zoey is unqualified, which of course hurts her. They reconcile and he compliments her on her ideas, but it’s troubling that he couldn’t see her natural talents before someone else pointed them out.
Junior also gets a job this episode, although at the much less glamorous Pizza Possum, a Chuck E. Cheese type establishment. Dre immediately dismisses Junior’s drive and determination—not many rich kids would take a job at such a low rent establishment, so Dre should be proud. Dre’s not really involved in this storyline past making fun of Junior for taking the job in the beginning, but this still bugged me. Junior quickly discovers that the Pizza Possum has some unsavory business practices, the least of which is serving actual possum meat. He doesn’t want to crush Jack and Diane’s spirits—they love the place—but encouraged by Johan, in the best use of him yet, he decides to expose Pizza Possum to the world.
He puts on some spy glasses, records video, then sends the whole thing to corporate. Corporate promises to fix the issues, but really all they do is shut the branch down, angering Jack and Diane. Junior’s done the right thing, but now his siblings are upset with him. He’s learned a tough lesson, and hopefully his father’s outright dismissal of his drive won’t crush his spirit. I’m rooting for this kids to succeed.
This show has been hit or miss this season, with some good intentioned episodes, but only scattered successes. This episode had its moments, but Dre needs to grow up, even just a little bit. Characters on sitcoms don’t really change—it’s part of the genre—but he’s about to be a father for the fifth and final time. Maybe this will finally be the thing that causes him to mature.
Season 3, Episode 9 (S03E09)
Black-ish airs Wednesdays at 930PM on ABC
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor