'blackish' Examines Bow's Views On Race & Dating

by Kayla Hawkins

black-ish returns from a brief Thanksgiving hiatus with a major milestone: Bow has her first narration-driven episode, as she goes through a racial identity crisis when Junior brings home his first girlfriend and she's white. Bow is shocked to find out that she's troubled by Megan's race, despite being raised by a hippy-dippy mixed race couple. Here's the thing: despite being white, Megan is actually Junior's perfect match. She speaks Dothraki, she's happy to be with a cape-wearing dork, and she doesn't mind that he occasionally gets bullied by groups of fourteen year old girls.

This is Bow's personal hangup, and she's terrified to find herself thinking and feeling just as jealous as Ruby usually is. Ruby accuses Bow of not liking Megan because she doesn't like herself and her white heritage. This sends Bow on a journey of self-discovery, prompted by her pretentious little brother. By the way, is the Ruby/Johan 'ship setting sail?

I despised the scenes where Dre and his coworkers talk about approaching women of different races, with Wanda Sykes' character being forced into the humorless nag role. A last-minute punchline about her loving dating stereotypes as much as the dudes, doesn't really change the ugliness of how the scenes sound (though the John Mayer tickets are, admittedly, very funny).

However, what more than made up for it was everything to do with Bow and her "identity crisis." Now, maybe I'm biased because I'm also a mixed black woman, but I think Bow wondering about whether or not her white father was influencing her negative knee-jerk reaction to Megan. What I particularly appreciate is that Bow's struggles with identity tie into her other, established qualities — a desperation to fit in, social awkwardness, and a tendency to overcommit... hella hard.

It's a great foray into more Bow-focused episodes, and a tribute to the show's hilarious (and, need I remind you, Emmy nominated) comedic actress, Tracee Ellis Ross. In the end, though, she realizes that despite all of the confusion of stress she went through to get to the point where she accepts herself as not just a black woman, but a stressed-out doctor, a great mom, and a wacky, insecure weirdo, she is sure of who she is.

Image: Tony Rivetti/ABC