BLACK-ISH Review: “What Lies Beneath”


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This week’s episode of wasn’t the triumphant return to form fans of the show were probably hoping for after last week’s misconceived Chris Brown guest spot, but it was a solid enough episode that tried to involve all the members of the Johnson family, something the show has struggled with in the past. A surprisingly mature Dre learns some shocking information about Ruby’s past, while Bow worries about Zoey attending a party, sending Junior along as a spy. The twins’ subplot was the weakest–the two run around the house wrecking havoc once they realize Bow’s too distracted to pay attention to them–but the other two were amusing.


Zoey’s at the tail end of her senior year of high school, which is the time when Bow thinks that teenagers slip up and do something stupid. Despite Dre’s insistence that Zoey is a good kid with a good head on her shoulders, Bow’s uncomfortable with her going to a party. She tells Zoey that she has to take Junior with her, as in her mind Junior would never do anything wrong. He certainly doesn’t seem like he’s been invited to too many crazy parties, as his first question for his mom is whether he should wear his normal cloak or his party cloak.

When they get to the party, Junior’s shocked to learn that there’s alcohol present and no adult supervision. In one of the episode’s funnier lies, Zoey tells Junior, “you’re the reason they should bring bullying back.” Junior tells her that the jokes on her–bullying never went anywhere. Junior can’t believe his eyes when he sees that the rest of the Student Council are at the party, even the girl who’s supposed to be their designated survivor. They can’t be in the same place at the same time! Junior stress eats potato chips only to learn that they’re actually pot-tato chips. He’s just ingested a ton of edibles.


He freaks out, but Zoey takes care of him, getting him water and telling the other kids to back off when they try to take embarrassing pictures of him. The cops arrive at the party. Everyone runs except for Zoey, who stops to look for Junior’s shoes. She’s taken home in a police car, confirming Bow’s worst suspicions. Bow angrily sends her to her room, only to have the cops return with Junior. Junior’s high, but he has enough composure to tell his mom that Zoey only got in trouble because she was helping him. Bow admits that she’s just worried about Zoey going to college, so that’s why she’s been so harsh on her lately.

Meanwhile, Dre discovers that his sister Rhonda (Raven Symone) has been hanging out with Pops without him. Instead of freaking out or throwing a tantrum like he might have in the past, he simply goes to hang out with Ruby. Rhonda tells him that they both have a favorite parent and he chose Ruby. Dre thinks that Ruby is the only logical choice–after all, she’s the good parent, while Pops cheated on Ruby and ruined the family. Rhonda tells Dre that Ruby isn’t the saint that he makes her out to be–she had an affair with Dre’s gym teacher, who Dre referred to as “Coach Dad”, but somehow never picked up on the affair before.


When Dre first learned that Rhonda was a lesbian, he made it all about him and essentially outed her instead of letting tell Ruby herself. He’s been portrayed as petty, vindictive, and immature. It’s nice to see Dre finally act his age this week and not freak out, although he’s still not perfect. Instead of accepting the fact that Ruby was a woman whose needs weren’t being filled by Pops, he gives her the opportunity to apologize to him. Ruby doesn’t apologize and although Dre may end the episode by crying into his pillow, he also doesn’t cause a scene. It’s progress!


Season 3, Episode 20 (S03E20)
Black-ish airs Wednesdays at 930PM on ABC

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Jennifer lives for two things: spreading the “Superstore” gospel and themed “Law & Order: SVU” marathons on USA.
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