Bow Practiced Self-Care On ‘black-ish,’ Challenging Dre To Confront What He Really Wants From A Stay-At-Home Wife

Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Bow's decision to extend her maternity leave a few episodes ago was a surprising move for black-ish (executive producer: Corey Nickerson), but thankfully, this choice has finally resulted in an episode that puts Bow's feelings first. Dre is thrilled with the new status quo in the beginning, with all of Bow's doctorly efficiency directed towards household tasks. But Bow becoming a stay-at-home mom on black-ish is more complicated than that, because Bow finally starts to think about what she wants, which was missing when Dre initially suggested that she leave her job in the first place.

At first, Bow is just grateful to spend more time with her children, even if the whole day is filled with chores, which she seems happy just to have time to do. But after receiving a message from the other school moms about self-care, Bow begins treating her time at home more like a vacation. This leads to Dre's ire when she begins outsourcing more household tasks to the rest of the family and their nanny (her name is Erica). For what it's worth, the kids don't seem to be any worse for wear. Diane even takes a break from roasting Junior on the regular to make fun of the third member of their shared carpool, and baby DeVante is as adorable as ever. Dre is the only one with a problem — because he doesn't want to have to balance work with any home responsibilities at all.

But when Bow decides to embrace getting weekly blowouts, attending yoga classes every day, and making friends with the same moms she used to mock for their privileged lives, Dre strikes back by regaining control over the family finances, trying to force Bow to no longer spend money on things like yoga-themed indoor fountains. And the subtext is that unless Bow is spending the majority of her time acting in service to her family, she's no longer contributing enough to the household and therefore loses her right to participate. While this swing away from the hyper-intellectual, perpetually exhausted doctor Bow into a Stepford-esque "kept woman" is surprising, thankfully in this episode Dre's feelings are placed second to Bow's.

Because the heart of Dre's complaint is stopped short by a simple comeback from Bow: "You thought I would have some more free time and magically become a different person?" It's true, Bow was hoping to spend more time at home, but she wasn't pining over not making Dre breakfast every morning. She was hoping to use this time to reconnect with her kids, but also reconnect with herself. And yes, she probably won't be indulging forever, a working mom of almost two decades deserves a bit of time for self-indulgence — after all, Dre did brag about having the financial security to forego Bow's salary indefinitely.

Here's the only downside — unfortunately, the episode doesn't spend much time exploring why these choices are empowering to Bow. She doesn't get to explain that she always wanted to have the time for yoga, or hates getting up early, or loves getting her hair done. Therefore, it does seem a bit hollow to have this be her triumphant moment. If Bow won't dramatically shift into a housework-loving drone, why would she also abandon her love for embarrassing her kids on the early morning school drop-off? Since choosing to stay home, she's dabbled in mommy-blog forums, thought about writing a parenting book, did the twins' homework for weeks, neglected and then nurtured her relationship with Junior, and worried over Zoey heading to college, but is this empowerment she's looking for?

The end of the episode has Bow finding a balance between indulging in luxury and her original goal: quality time with the kids. The final scene in the nail salon shows how Bow's mini-vacation actually makes her more emotionally present and relaxed while spending time with her children (as opposed to her almost manic behavior at school). But hopefully, as the story continues, Bow's mind and heart are as pampered as her nails and hair have been by this little respite.