Black-ish, Season 1, Episode 14, “Andre from Marseille”
Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 9:30 PM (EST), ABC
This week, Blacki-ish tackles interracial dating when Zoey starts dating a white French boy named Andre. At first, it’s clear that her dad Andre Johnson has problems accepting him because he’s white, but his coworkers make matters even worse by insinuating that he’s likely to be very sexual because he’s French. At this point it’s easy to guess that Andre will overreact, but the writers threw in some cultural commentary and characterization I wasn’t expecting. Black-ish still doesn’t do the best job on the gender front, but they’re getting better.
Zoey is Andre’s favorite kid because she’s most like him: “beautiful, popular, stylish.” It’s true that they share one key trait in common – narcissism. During their morning commute, Zoey is so absorbed in her phone that she won’t talk to him. When he slams on the brakes so she’ll drop her precious phone, she unloads. It’s mostly typical high school drama and gossip. She does let slip one important piece of information – that she’s dating a boy named Andre. He plays basketball, he’s from Marseilles - all intriguing to her father. However, when she reveals that her crush is a white boy, he freaks out.
As usual, Andre’s coworkers only make matters worse by implying that French culture revolves around sex, increasing his anxiety levels about the match. At home, he relays his concerns but Rainbow brushes him off, suggesting that they should just invite Andre from Marseilles over to dinner if he’s so worried. The boys of the house do their best to intimidate the boy, making it very clear they have Zoey’s back. However, he’s able to charm them all, even Diane! He tells Rainbow how she’s beautiful and smart, and pulls candies out from behind all their ears using sleight of hand.
Junior makes himself useful by cyber stalking Andre from Marseille to find out more about their relationship. After seeing pictures of them holding hands and kissing, Andre Johnson freaks out even more and decides to convince Zoey to break up with him. However, he’s too late. He’s already broken up with Zoey, but she doesn’t know why. Now Andre is so mad that his beautiful daughter has been hurt that he calls the other Andre a bigot. Now Junior makes it his mission to find out why he broke up with her, and it turns out it’s because Zoey is superficial. Dre wants to keep this information from Zoey to avoid causing her more pain, but the truth actually causes Zoey relief. She was just worried he didn’t think she was pretty.
Rainbow’s subplot this week revolves around her pubes. When Andre catches a glimpse in the bathroom, he notices some new grey hairs and Rainbow gets embarrassed. The way Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson play the scene, it’s supposed to be a cute married couple moment, the kind of thing married couples could relate to. At work, Rainbow asks her older colleague if she’s had the same problem and what to expect with a witty euphemism. She says she has a “single white female” who’s “moved in downstairs” and has gained some roommates. Her colleague warns that it’ll end up like a Dave Matthew’s band concert eventually. Finally, Rainbow decides to visit the spa to get the issue taken care of, but Diane’s matter-of-fact questions about the safety and necessity of hot wax and lasers just to “look better” cause Rainbow to gain some newfound confidence to be herself. In the end, her subplot became sort of empowering.
After the weakest episode of the season so far, Black-ish swings back the other way toward a much more enjoyable mix. Diane gets some amazing lines, Rainbow’s subplot is bizarre but ultimately satisfying, Zoey got not one but two boyfriends in 30 minutes. Even Andre’s workplace scenes worked really well. The jokes and commentary about race were softened a bit by jokes about France and Canada. The part at the end with Zoey dating Andre’s mini-me was a nice reminder that the show can get away completely unrealistic storylines as long as they feel true for the characters.
- “I don’t have a problem with white people. Some of my best friends are white.”
- “In 10 years we’re all gonna look Puerto Rican.”
- “I cheated with a French-Candain. His Frenchness was so powerful that I forgot he was Canadian.”
- “French swimming panties”
- “Sex is here” Andre thought to himself as a teenage boy rang his doorbell.
- “You’re the most beautiful person in the world, mom. Except your toes. Those are jacked up.” Diane with the epic backhanded compliment. She just gets better and better.
- Do not touch Diane’s chunk monkey ice cream. It’s the only thing she asks for.
After the weakest episode of the season so far, Black-ish swings back the other way toward a much more enjoyable mix.