BLACK-ISH aired two episodes this week, although it may be more accurate to say they aired one and a half–the second, “All Groan Up”, was essentially a clip show. Typically, I’m not a fan of clip show episodes, but I’ll admit this one was effective. Zoey gets into NYU and the reality that his daughter could move clear across the country causes Dre to make a slideshow to convince her to stay. It’s sweet and completely within Dre’s character–his love for both Zoey and making slideshows has been well-established throughout the series. And it was genuinely moving to see how much the Johnson kids (or at least the actors playing them) have grown up since the series started.
The first episode was also touching. Black-ish really leaned on the “family” part of being classified as a family sitcom, as both episodes dealt with the love and relationships between family members. In “Sister, Sister”, Bow’s sister Santa Monica (in a delightful bit of casting, she’s played by Rashida Jones) visits the Johnsons as she’s in Los Angeles to film a new reality show, a Real Housewives-esque program called Rich Wives. Bow and Santa Monica couldn’t be more different. Bow’s worked hard her whole life, while Santa Monica has coasted by on good looks and luck.
Bow’s proud of her accomplishments as a doctor, Santa Monica’s proud of her alimony payment from her star athlete ex-husband of three months. Bow’s been published in a medical journal, an article about a new scope she’s invented that will save lives. Santa Monica’s working on a book called “Manmade Woman: How to Go From a Thirsty Bitch to Being a Baller.” Bow vents about her sister to her mother, who defends Santa Monica. Santa Monica may be a bit social media and fame obsessed, but she’s also the one who taught their mom how to text, who calls her father every day, and who accompanies their mom to physical therapy once a week.
Santa Monica and Bow may be different, but they both really care about their family. The episode ends with a cute scene of Bow, Santa Monica, Johan, and their mom dancing around the kitchen. It was corny, but I’d be lying if it didn’t make me smile. Both episodes this week were sentimental. In the second, Zoey gets accepted to every college she applies to and every family member has a different opinion on where she should go. Pops is against Vanderbilt, as they have “deep fried racism there, she’s used to this ocean breeze racism out here.” Jack wants her to go to Miami, because where else can you go to the beach during the day, party all night, then ride an alligator to school?
Dre ideally wants her to go to Southern Cal, but definitely not to NYU. He tries to convince her that she’d be miserable in New York by throwing snowballs at her, turning down the heat to inhospitable levels while blasting traffic noises, and splashing her with water to mimic slushy conditions. Zoey’s unfazed. She simply buys a winter jacket, as she looks great in layers. Her mind is set on NYU, at least until she has a conversation with her siblings. They point out that she won’t even know the new baby if she goes to school (Bow seems like she’s been pregnant forever, but it’s probably a safe assumption that she’ll give birth in the season finale).
Zoey decides on Southern Cal, which makes sense both from a character and narrative perspective. She’s grown into a protective big sister, always looking out for her younger siblings, be it by helping Diane redecorate her room or by taking care of Junior after he accidentally got high at a party. It makes sense that she’d want to be involved in the new baby’s life. And of course, having Zoey at a local college makes sense for the show, as then she can be in episodes next season if need be.
Next week will be an interesting episode–it’s the backdoor pilot for the proposed spinoff, which will center on Zoey at college. There’s a lot riding on the episode, as the pilot hasn’t been picked up to series yet. I’m all for more Black-ish in whatever form, so I have high hopes for next week.
Season 3, Episode 21-22 (S03E21-22)
Black-ish airs Wednesdays at 930PM on ABC
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor