Black-Ish Recap: Crazy Mom vs Harriet Tubman (Episode 4)

Black-Ish Recap: Crazy Mom vs Harriet Tubman (Episode 4) October 16, 2014


About halfway through Black-ish episode 4: Crazy Mom, I thought to myself “This show is really hitting its stride.” The writing is snappy and surprising. The acting is getting looser. We’re getting to know the characters better. And it’s funny.

Like the sex episode, this one is less about being black (although it’s there-more later) and more about the crazy stuff every family faces. So far they’ve been alternating a black folk theme with a universal theme, in which is a pretty clear message that this show is for everyone.

So gather round and watch. It’s let’s-cover-the-battle-of-the-sexes episode on Black-ish.

Dre feels he’s not getting the respect he deserves after a masterful loading of the dishwasher. He’s stepped up and loaded the dishwasher like a boss. He’s pwned the dirty dishes.

Sadly, Bow is not impressed. Not after managing four children, a household, and oh yeah, SAVING LIVES. (I love that Bow always refers to her job as SAVING LIVES. It’s hilarious.) So Dre decides to take over child duties for a week, you know, to give Bow a break. And also to prove his point.

I think we all know where this is going. Dre will fail, fail funnily and markedly. The kids will wind up in jail or abandoned at the DMV (which might be worse) and we’ll all nod wisely about how much Moms do and how hopeless Dads are.

SURPRISE. It doesn’t go there. I was shocked to see that Dre actually makes a pretty good job of his duties. He brings cupcakes to class. He makes pancakes. He fills out forms. He checks homework. Nothing escapes him. He’s a raging success. Which then becomes the problem.

Dre quickly becomes a classroom praise junkie and finds himself competing with the mom who makes slave cabin models out of pretzels with little marzipan maps on the inside.

Brilliant. Universal. If you have kids in school, you’ve met that mom. She’s crazy and she’ll be damned if anyone brings a cuter, less allergenic, or more educationally appropriate decorative snack to her kid’s classroom.

Dre is that woman.

And rather than be put upon to have to take up the mantel of of martyr working mom, Bow finds she actually likes and misses interacting with her children. She doesn’t see it as drudgery but as a privilege. Well, mostly a privilege.

But she knows something is up when the kids start begging her, stiltedly to come back. She knows she’s being played when they say they like her books on tape. Dre has coached them in a very funny scene that had me laughing out loud.

I loved that they turned this tired gender wars story on its head. Bow can handle a job and a family and love both. Dre isn’t less of a man because he wants to help in his kids’ classroom. Everybody is on the same team and nobody loses. Everybody wins.

So it’s not really a story about black people so much as about a modern family.

Except the parts that aren’t. When Dre steps into the classroom (as heroic Cupcake Man), he finds out it’s Harriet Tubman week. Here’s what happens:

That may be the funniest scene I’ve seen in months.

I’m kidding. We’re the worst. I need that on a t-shirt.

And that’s just getting started. Let’s just say that Dre and Harriet Tubman (or the woman enacting her) don’t see history the same way.

Funny funny episode. I’ll probably watch it again.

And was that a bit of improv between Dre and Bow? About how she’ll be Harriet Tubman and he can Frederick Douglass? Pretty sure I saw her snort when he said he’d grab his wig. I know I did.

Other episodes:

Pilot: In which we meet a strange beast called the black suburban family.

Episode Two: The Talk. In which both parents try to connect with teens. Not my favorite episode. (Because of S.E.X.)

Episode Three: The Nod. In which Dre tries to instill in his son the special bond all black men share. Does not end well.

Episode Four: Crazy Mom. In which Dre takes over child duties from Bow. And succeeds. But not in a good way.


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