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'black-ish' Review- “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Gun"

Joey Czaja ’17/ Emertainment Monthly TV Staff Writer

Photo Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal Left to Right: Tracee Ellis Ross, Nicole Sullivan, Anthony Anderson
Photo Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal
Left to Right: Tracee Ellis Ross, Nicole Sullivan, Anthony Anderson

Blackish stayed true to form this week by tackling a controversial topic with genuine care. This episode, “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Gun,” discusses the issue of gun control. After houses are being broken into in the Johnsons’ neighborhood, Dre wants to get a gun. Bow does not agree. Jack and Diane are appalled that they’ve been living in the house unprotected, and Junior increases cyber protection on the house (or at least tries to) to thwart off cyber terrorism. Pops takes the liberty of “teaching” Zoey “karate.”

Throughout the episode, Bow vehemently disapproves of Dre buying a gun. Dre won’t back down without a fight: “White people stole my freedom, Bow. You don’t think they’ll come in here and steal my Xbox?” Bow, who hates guns more than the way Levis fit her, has an entirely different opinion on the matter: “We have a hard enough time keeping Jack alive without a lethal weapon in the house. Every day that boy doesn’t drown himself when brushing his teeth is a victory.” After a montage full of flashbacks where Bow is seen vetoing various purchases and ideas of Dre’s, Dre argues that she owes him this win. This back and forth, at some points tiresome and other points hilarious, continues throughout the episode.

Photo Credit: ABC/Tyler Golden Left to right: Miles Brown, Marsai Martin, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner
Photo Credit: ABC/Tyler Golden
Left to right: Miles Brown, Marsai Martin, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner

Blackish is on its A-game when it comments on social issues without being too one-sided; case in point the episode-long argument between Dre and Bow. Another way Blackish commented on the gun debate is when Dre goes to the gun store to buy himself a handgun and watches an elderly foreign woman being sold a shotgun even after admitting she does not know how to use it. Dre on the other hand has to fill out paperwork, be tested on gun safety, and wait 10 days before being given a handgun. Blackish effectively comments on the flawed system for buying a gun, without choosing a stance on whether buying a gun is a good or bad thing.

The heart of this show is the relationship between Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross. Whether they are reveling in their love/marriage or debating about parenting issues or opposing viewpoints, the chemistry between Dre and Bow is undeniable, and assuredly keeps many viewers turning into the show every week. Dre and Bow’s four kids are also an important highlight of any Blackish episode. They are always impressive with their comedic timing, line deliveries, and strong consistencies in their characterizations week to week.

Photo Credit: ABC/Tyler Golden Left to Right: Marsai Martin, Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Anderson, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown
Photo Credit: ABC/Tyler Golden
Left to Right: Marsai Martin, Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Anderson, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown

Another great thing that Blackish does right is the way that throwaway lines from earlier in the episode make their way back in later and usually in the form of a great joke. Bow reveals Dre’s nun chucks hidden behind the blender and is bemused: “Why, in case you get attacked making a milkshake?” Dre vulnerably replies, “It’s where you’re most vulnerable.” Later, when their hysterical neighbor who’s just been robbed admits she was fact was making a milkshake when the robbery occurred, Dre delivers his “vulnerable” line with conviction and matter-of-factness. This is the comedic gold that makes blackish must-watch comedy.   

That isn’t to say that blackish isn’t without its blemishes. In particular, in the scenes with Dre conversing with his coworkers at work, the actors involved haven’t perfected their characters’ mannerisms and quirks. This results in missed opportunities. These characters also haven’t produced a steady and consistent ensemble chemistry, resulting in jokes falling flat and the bit feeling out of place and like a waste of time compared with the rest of the episode.

Episode Grade: B+

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