Tweetable Takeaway: Dre and Bow try to discipline Zoey with two very different tactics, and it’s nothing new but it’s a funny one, y’all. Tweet
Airtime: Wednesday at 9:30pm on ABC
By: Brett Salinas, Contributor
With only a small handful of episodes to go in its freshman season, the team over on BLACK-ISH seems to have gotten the memo that the show might need a little nudge to the finish line. This week, the pugnacious parenting pair – of course I mean Dre and Rainbow – are, shockingly, upset with something their kids are doing. This time specifically, it’s Zoey that’s out of line. But with a very noticeable comedic punch-up, “The Peer-ent Trap” really picks up the pieces from the last few weeks’ messy fallout.
The Offspring Grievances Wheel has spun for Dre yet again this week and, by random chance, ZOEY, the eldest daughter, has decided to irk our touchy patriarch this time around. When the errant teen has made smoking e-cigarettes and recklessly trolling around on Vespas without a license her new bag, Dre and Rainbow decide it’s time to take action. Though, as anyone might have expected, their respective approaches to discipline are a smidge different. Dre, the from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks parent, thinks that a printed “10 Thousand Commandments” is the way to go, while nurturing Mommy would rather hash things out with words and compassion.
With a gender dynamic that I’m only somewhat comfortable with, the episode launches into a headstrong battle of wills between the parents and the kids. Rainbow, who relentlessly seeks her kids’ approval above all other things, naturally thinks Dre is being a bit harsh. Even the younger members of the team are a little blindsided by the onslaught of new rules. I mean, Jack can’t even keep his slightly-living road-kill find even though he already named him and set up a Twitter account for him?? The youngsters even make plans to seek refuge in a place without so many rules, like a “German Submarine Academy.”
Junior leads a small side-crusade, solidifying, frankly, his status as the throwaway cast member, exploiting the loopholes in Dad’s “iron-clad” rulebook. But a liquefied hamburger smoothie, though it certainly sounds foolproof, doesn’t prove to be as smooth as originally thought when trying to buck the “no late-night eating” decree.
And of course Rainbow can’t help but to give in to Zoey’s bogus little guilt trip, and ends up surreptitiously helping the girl sneak off for a totally illicit rendezvous with a boy and even sneak back hours past curfew. When Dre discovers this, he realizes, maybe he’s a little too scary for his own good. Pops would be the first to disagree, but, you know, he’s from another time so we don’t pay any serious attention to him.
But Dad’s concerted effort towards compassion, letting Zoey go to the Spring Formal in spite of her bad behavior, skids to a halt when Rainbow realizes that her daughter has been sneaking around driving her car – again, without a license – and punishes the living daylights out of her. So, after all that, Mom is the one who lays down the law in the end. In Pops’ eyes, Zoey has two moms when Dre proves to be the soft one.
“The Peer-ent Trap” is certainly not without its shortcomings, dealing in overly broad clichés and overly familiar material. But all is takes is a fresh sense of humor to lay a coat of primer over tired old wallpaper. Diane’s snappy one-liners make an elegant return to the show this week, and the Jack-Diane relationship hits a new high. We’ve all resigned ourselves to the fact that Zoey is brutally inauthentic. She’s essentially curly-haired robot who’s programmed to sigh and apply lipstick every 5 minutes. I’d certainly hoped that the characters would evolve more to have more nuance beyond their stereotypes, but as far as bad or obnoxious TV characters go, these I can live with.
Dre also finds a comfortable place in the action this week. While the tireless squawk of his rants often spills obnoxiously over the top, Anthony Anderson is able to play things so over the top that it ends up being more comedically viable. The more Dre embraces the absurd nooks of his character, rather than just the staunch or indignant, the more palatable he seems to be.
While I won’t be whipping up any liquid meals in my Nutribullet any time soon, I will be reliving a lot of this weeks’ jokes in my head throughout the day. And that says something. Given the recent botch on the show’s permanent record, a handful of memorable lines certainly isn’t the worst thing.