Black-ish, Season 1, Episode 2, “The Talk”
October 1, 2014, 9:30 PM (EST), ABC
Black-ish is off to an uproarious start with a second episode that immediately betters the pilot. It’s about the dreaded sex talk that tends to get American parents all squishy and uncomfortable. In a nostalgic mood after preparing for a garage sale, Andre Sr. walks in on Andre Jr. playing with…well… littlest Andre. They are both as mortified as you can imagine. When Andre Sr. brings up the “hand to gland combat” (quite possibly the best euphemism for masturbation ever) with his wife Rainbow, he’s shocked to learn that she’s already had “the talk” with Junior. Rainbow points out that Andre’s the uptight parent so their kids feel more comfortable talking openly with her.
It turns out Rainbow is a little cocky and probably shouldn’t have spoken so soon. As she’s taking their oldest child Zoey to school, she overhears her freaking out over some catastrophic sounding teenage drama into the phone to her best friend. Wanting to help, she reminds Zoey that she can talk to her about anything. Later, Zoey makes good on that offer but Rainbow completely misses her daughter’s account of the drama because she’s too busy patting herself on the back for being a good mom in a hilariously narcissistic voiceover. Even when she fights tooth and nail for a second chance without admitting she failed to properly listen, she repeats her mistake! When she finally comes clean, it turns out Pops came to the rescue with some advice Zoey finds useful.
Meanwhile, Andre faces the sex talk head on, but without a plan, he makes it as spectacularly awkward as possible. Because Rainbow uses her parents’ comfort with nudity as evidence for why she’s more open, he takes off his shirt as a gesture of openness toward Junior. Junior immediately dives into his very direct questions about sex and Andre talks around the issues by giving random dating advice such as how to apply body spray and what movies to avoid taking girls to. He struts around all self-satisfied until it becomes apparent that Junior is an over-sharer and this makes Andre squirm just as much as Rainbow said it would.
The true star of this show is the one-two punch of brilliant characterization and performance. Everyone’s distinct personalities charm and delight. The twins – Jack and Diane, are impossibly adorable as their parents neglect them for a week in order to deal with the adolescent drama of their two oldest kids. They misinterpret the impetus for “the talk” as Junior simply being in his room all the time so they follow suit. Between the two of them, they had some of the best lines. Strike that – Pops by far had the best lines seeing as most of the ones in the round-up came from him. Tracee Ellis Ross’ facial expressions have never had a more loving home than on this show. Anthony Anderson proves his worth every time he devolves into a puddle of awkwardness as Junior shares every morbid detail of his adventures in masturbation. Zoey’s deadpan humor is a welcome, if abrupt, tonal change whenever it comes out.
The scope of the show has been widened from Andre’s patriarchal perspective to the rest of the family, especially his wife Rainbow with her wonderful voiceovers. The show explores universal family themes, but the heart of the show seems to be how the adults play to their strengths as a team in parenting the children. Rainbow is the open and goofy one, Andre is dorky and loving, and Pops gives some tough love and honesty. That doesn’t stop their naturally competitive spirits seeping into their everyday problem-solving strategies in a race to be the best parents they can be. It’s admirable. Even Pops grudgingly admits that he’s proud of his son for striving to be more open about sex than his own attempt when he simply left a box of condoms in his room. Their efforts are paying off because it’s obvious these kids feel loved and supported, and they so deserve it.
- “Hand to gland combat”
- “Show me one place in the bible where a kid talks”
- “You opened Pandora’s box and a triceratops jumped out”
- “Pops gave me some awesome advice. You should cherish him more.”
- “I gave her some generic advice in a deep soothing voice… I Morgan Freeman-ed her.”
- “I will always take my shirt off for you”
The true star of this show is the one-two punch of brilliant characterization and performance. Everyone’s distinct personalities charm and delight.