This week’s BLACK-ISH opens with Dre talking about how important jury duty is. He calls it “the cornerstone of our democracy”, “a civic obligation”, and “a small price to pay to live in a fair and just society.” He’s been summoned for jury duty, but despite his seeming appreciation for the process, he shreds his letter. Jury duty may be important, but you have to sit in a room with horrible fluorescent lighting with a bunch of weirdos who live for the opportunity to judge others. He feels slightly guilty, but as he puts it, with “justice doled out at $1.80 an hour, you get what you pay for.”
Unfortunately for him, Junior doesn’t share this belief. He’s just watched a documentary about the judicial system and reassembles Dre’s letter, forcing him to go to the courthouse. Dre actually gets picked for the jury, which Junior is ecstatic about. Junior tells Dre about the impossible caseloads public defenders face, the fact that some of them only have 7 minutes to review a case, and the fact that 97% of prisoners accept plea deals. The odds are stacked against the accused. Junior’s passion is inspiring, but Dre tells him he wants to kill him, but won’t, as it would send another poor bastard to jury duty. It’s funny on the surface, but Dre has been so cruel towards Junior this season, so it was hard to laugh at another example of that.
Dre begins to take interest in the trial when he sees that the defendant is black, with a loving family in court. He’s the only black person on the entire jury, so it’s not exactly a jury of his peers. The public defender is so unprepared that his closing statement is simply telling the jury to follow their hearts. The prosecutor declares that it’s an open and shut case. An eyewitness saw the defendant, Antwon, at the scene of the crime and he was later pictured wearing the stolen hoodie. It’s damning evidence, but Dre still votes not guilty, making him the only one to do so.
His fellow jurors just want to go home, but Dre refuses to change his vote. He tells them that if they look closely at all the evidence and still decide that Antwon’s guilty, he’ll change his vote. He disapproves the reliability of eyewitness testimony in a pretty hilarious way—he shows a juror a picture of him and his family, which actually turns out to be a picture of Tyler Perry. The juror confused him and Tyler Perry and they don’t even look alike! But the picture of the kid in the stolen hoodie is hard to dismiss. The next day, Dre is ready to vote guilty, but the same juror who mistook him for Tyler Perry did some research. The hoodie in the picture is from two seasons ago, so the boutique wouldn’t be currently carrying it. Antwon is innocent and they all vote not guilty.
Meanwhile, at the Johnson house, Bow decides to let her kids swear in order to facilitate open and honest communication, after she catches Seth, Janine’s son swearing, but then witnesses how readily Seth tells Janine things. The plan works at first, but she quickly learns too much about her kids. Zoey changes into a super short skirt once she’s dropped off at school, a skirt her friend stole from the mall while Zoey stood lookout. Junior’s been lying about hanging out at Seth’s house—he’s really been fooling around with Megan, who I guess forgave him after he tried to get her to allow him to date two women on Valentine’s Day? This show has never been great with continuity. Diane hit her best friend because she didn’t want to look weak.
Bow decides that she’d rather have her kids keep some secrets from her, as long as they remain polite and well-behaved while under her roof. Both subplots this week had convenient, but satisfying endings. It was overall an enjoyable episode, but the product placement is getting a bit irritating. There’s a random scene where Charlie shows his co-workers a pitch he’s been working on for the Microsoft Surface, ending with them all extolling its values. This scene takes place right before a commercial break and is followed by a title card telling us the show is sponsored by the Surface, so it’s in this weird limbo between commercial and story. It just felt odd and cheap, like the show was selling out completely. For a show with a lot of heart, it was disappointing.
Season 3, Episode 16 (S03E16)
Black-ish airs Wednesdays at 930PM on ABC
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor