'black-ish' Explores Dre's Parental Dating Double Standards In A Back To Basics Episode
Sometimes you don't know what you've been missing from a show until you see it hitting on all cylinders. And while this episode might not have been a full hundred percent, black-ish improves greatly with this episode about Dre's reaction to Ruby's new boyfriend, who turns out to be a young, good looking guy named Davis. It's nice to see that black-ish is stepping away from the well of guest stars in order to do a normal episode about the established characters of the Johnson family, where the show's strengths continue to lie. Honestly, watching Dre, Bow, and Ruby dominate a scene is way funnier than any of the show's guest characters, except for Wanda Sykes, who wasn't even in this episode. Actually, it would have been even better if it never cut away to Dre's office, where the characters still feel a little too much like the voices inside his head and not enough like real people. Make it a full Johnson family experience.
Nice also to see the show taking on some issues, even if it's a soft take. The double standard of who Pops can date and Ruby can date with Dre being comfortable was on point for society at large — May-December relationships go both ways! Especially appreciated is that Ruby didn't forgo having a sex life all those years, but rather just thought that Dre would finally have matured enough to share her relationship with him and his family, especially since she seems "very, very happy." Imagine that in as sexually suggestive of a way as possible and you might understand why Dre is so profoundly uncomfortable at the idea. Ruby doesn't hold back.
However, it's nice to see that in the end, Ruby's happiness is the most important thing, not Dre or Pops' comfort levels. And having Bow there to remind them that they are being total double-standard promoting jerks also makes the episode better while never making it too preachy. The relationship between a boy and his mother is too complicated to resolve in 30 minutes... and I can respect that. Dre grows a little, Pops admits that he still loves his ex wife, and Ruby gets her trip to New Jersey.
It's the kids' first real spotlight in a while, as Junior tries to prove that the profile he's been talking to online isn't a catfisher, and as the kids become pawns in Davis' new relationship as he curries favor with them. However, unfortunately Junior's story resolves with a thud — the final punchline of the episode could have been a lot better than this limply executed "Kirsten was a beautiful woman!" gag.
Image: Vivian Zink/ABC; Giphy