h3>Black-ish, Season 1, Episode 16, “Parental Guidance”
Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 9:30 PM (EST), ABC
It’s Andre and Rainbow’s 15 year anniversary and they want to celebrate by bringing all of their family together for a vowel renewal ceremony. We’ve already met (and fallen in love with) Andre’s parents Pops and Ruby, but this week we get to meet Rainbow’s parents as well. Alicia and Paul are played by veterans Anna Deavere Smith and Beau Bridges. They instantly create some friction with Andre and his parents, but what’s great about Alicia in particular is how much she makes Rainbow’s personality make sense. This is one of my favorite types of Black-ish episodes – insults and quips fly back and forth so quickly it’s almost impossible to keep up.
Back in 2000, Rainbow was swamped with work due to her residency, so they had a quickie wedding in the hospital chapel. Both sets of parents were there, but they all misbehaved so it wasn’t the most romantic of occasions. To make up for that day, Andre thinks that he’s planned the perfect day. The wrench in his plan is that Rainbow invited her parents. Andre doesn’t get along with them, so he sulks as soon as they enter the house. However, it’s clear that Rainbow is enamored with them. Alicia is the talkative, opinioned one of the happy couple. Paul is pleasant and unaffected, but he does have a rather overt fetish for black women, which Beau Bridges plays on that fine line between gross and quirky.
The four in-laws all have problems with one another. At the dinner table, all of their baggage comes out. Alicia judges Andre’s parents for not teaching him how to swim, and Ruby counters with Rainbow’s lack of cooking skills. Eventually, the fight turns pretty ugly and Rainbow and Andre get wrapped up in it. Everything gets resolved after Pops discovers that Andre and Rainbow just want to go to the courthouse to avoid inviting their quarreling parents. He comes to a place of understanding with Alicia, that they were all just trying to make better lives for themselves.
The kids all get strong material this week, but even still, they all managed to elevate their lines. Zoe finds out that she probably wasn’t born after her parents were married, which her siblings instantly taunt her about. However, when Junior discovers that their marriage may not have been valid because Alicia’s “Church of Saturnology’s” website was seized by the FBI, Zoe is relieved by the prospect by all four Johnson kids may be bastards. Overall, the family takes the possibility of a sham marriage quite well. Rainbow jokes that she’s a Profile in Courage due to her status as a single mom of four children and a successful doctor. Andre jokes that he’s a baby daddy.
There’s a weird bit of back and forth between Andre and Rainbow about what they want out of a wedding. Andre wants to go over-the-top with birds and a stretch hummer, but all Rainbow wants is an upgraded engagement ring. She’s pretty dismissive of the one she’s been wearing for fifteen years. It’s the only joke of the night that feels sort of out of nowhere. Yes, Rainbow’s narcissistic, but this sort of materialistic streak isn’t as well supported by previous episodes.
In the end, the wedding turned out to be super cute. Pops got a scotch fountain (brilliant), Andre got his “normal” minister, Paul got his black female eye candy that came along with his pimped out minister, and Alicia got her Tibetan monks. Rainbow looked beautiful, the twins looked absolutely adorable. The emphasis of the ceremony was on the strength of their family despite their differences, which is really the show in a nutshell. After the episode was over, it felt like everything was rushed and wrapped up too quickly. This is one of the rare Blacki-ish episodes that could’ve benefited from an hourlong special treatment. It could’ve very well been a great subject for a season finale, so I’m actually looking forward to whatever their planning for that grand finale.
- “I hate when my heart’s warm.” “Hate is such a strong word.” “I dislike when my heart’s warm.”
- “Only rich people would pay to sharecrop.”
- “You’re safe now, you’re loved.”
- “Down Paul, you’ve got your black wife.”
- “She tried to set you up with another guy at our wedding.”
- “It’s a poo bus. It’s a bus that runs on poo! Why aren’t you excited about this?” “You answered your own question, Junior.”
- “Did you see Selma? Complete game changer.” “I saw the original in 1965.”
- “You’re like the bastard Jon Snow.”
- Ruby just straight up said “Fuck you” to Alicia but it was bleeped out. This episode pulled no punches.
- “I’m wearing white to your wedding.” “Over my dead body.” “Oh, I’m wearing red to that.” Ruby with the comeback of the night!
- Zoe’s relief when she said “Yes! We are all bastards.” Is the other win of the night.
- “You two probably aren’t even twins.” “You’re probably right.”
- “Bachelor party at medieval times!”
- “Sometimes the universe opens a window so you can climb out of an unhappy marriage.”
- “All we need is a judge.” “And a big ring.” “And a hundred doves.” “No.” “I’ll save that for my next wife.”
- “I don’t like brown liquor.” “I’m eating white ice cream!”
This is one of my favorite types of Black-ish episodes – insults and quips fly back and forth so quickly it’s almost impossible to keep up.