'black-ish' Imagines What Would Happen If The Show Lost Laurence Fishburne's Pops, Its Funniest Character

I wouldn't say black-ish has made any truly iconic sitcom characters yet, but it's on its way. Laurence Fishburne's Pops is a truly surprising comedic performance from an actor who'd never really done anything that would work on network TV before, which is why the teasing that Pops will die of a heart attack because he's too afraid to get a minor operation on his heart felt like a threat. I mean, they never could, would, or should kill Pops off, since he only appears occasionally anyway, giving Fishburne plenty of time to do whatever other projects interest him.

After all of the "you need the operation!" "don't get the operation!" back and forth in the beginning, Dre and Bow's realizing that they love and care about Pops and Ruby as much as the audience does is played pretty straight, give or take a few funny lines ("you're soft, like a crab in summer"). Once again, the show is dipping into sentiment without really adding more jokes to keep the tone from getting too sweet. But black-ish is not a crazy comedic setpiece kind of show, and maybe that's to be accepted at this point, over a season since it premiered. Pretty much the closest thing to a physical gag is the dance in the tag.

The social commentary was pretty much absent this week — awkward father-son relationships and overstepping mothers-in-law transcend any race or culture. Dre and his father never saying "I love you" isn't even dramatized that much, and the whole "don't go to the doctor" thing is common with any stubborn person. But since Fishburne's performance and the character of Pops are both so outrageously funny, it feels like a bit of a waste that the episode that threatens potentially losing the character is played so straight by the end. Fishburne was able to make even his two-second appearance on the very uneven Muppets remake laugh-out-loud hilarious, so he should be even funnier on his own show.

Image: Isabella Vosmikova/ABC (2); Giphy