I found this third episode of Black-ish to be the most engaging and most challenging so far.
The pilot episode, like most pilots, had so much work to do introducing themes and characters that it lacked some charm. The second, all about sex was a bit grating because it felt like they thought they HAD to do a sex-tastic episode to get viewers.
The primary storyline in “The Nod” centers on Andre wanting his son to recognize special connection with other black men whether he knows them or not. For André, this signal of mutual understanding and respect is the nod, a sort of “hey, brotha” kind of bob of the head. The monologue Andre gives about the nod is pretty hilarious.
But Andre Jr. doesn’t get it. He just walks by the other black boy at school with not so much as a glance. So Andre Sr. sets out to find black friends for Jr. to get his blackness on. Luckily, there’s a new guy at work and the nod leads to less than optimal results.
Charlie (Deon Cole, a comedy writer) is a great character. He’s obnoxious and hilarious, but not in any expected way. His over-enthuiastic friendliness soon becomes overbearing friendliness. He over-shares, over-emotes, and way over-assumes. I thought he was great. They got at his blackness, and that was central, but they also got beyond it to an actual person, in a sitcom-y way. Definitely worth watching.
The whole issue of a nod got me thinking about the dog whistles different groups send to each other. I’m not black but I am several things: A mom, a wife, a movie critic, conservative, and Christian. I’ve become more and more aware of the ways groups, especially the last two, try to find and identify other members of the group on contact. Certain catch-phrases or visual hints, certain ways of relating. It kind of relates to this Arthur Brooks New York Times article “Smelling Liberal, Thinking Conservative.” I get it because I think I also smell liberal and sometimes other Christians or conservatives don’t get me. They assume I’m not what they are and dismiss me. I don’t mind. I’d rather move beyond the dog whistles anyway.
Obviously the huge difference is that black people know other black people on sight, like all ethnicities do. But that doesn’t mean that they’re always brothas, does it? Or maybe the kind of brothas that might keep each other at arm’s length.
I also really liked Bow’s storyline trying to get her daughter to want to be a doctor. It was too cute, especially the end, which I did not see coming. A
ll in all, an engaging and funny episode that makes me want to watch more of the show. After “The Talk,” I wasn’t so sure.
Sorry for the delay posting…life gets in the way of tv! Full disclosure – my husband works with Arthur Brooks.
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.