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'Black-ish' recap: It's parental 'Freaky Friday'

Season 1 | Episode 4 | “Crazy Mom” | Aired Oct 16, 2014

Tonight was the requisite “Moms and dads have different roles!” episode of black-ish. Personally, I’m neutral, but I’m sure some analyzed this episode as one that sent a message not intended by the show’s writers. You viewers can duke it out in the comments section, but now it’s time to recap what happened.

Rainbow is strung out from her full-time job and full-time duties as mom. She takes care of people’s hearts during the day, and when she comes home she has to take care of everyone else’s needs, while Andre sits around playing games and believes that putting the dishes in the dishwasher is something that should be applauded. Both decide that they will flip roles for the week.

Rainbow wants to prove how much Andre doesn’t do around the house, while Andre wants to show how he can balance work and home life just as easily as Rainbow does, if not more so. Pops just shakes his head and reads the paper, knowing how much of a disaster this is about to become.

I would say that the horror movie conceit used throughout the episode is apt, since it really is a horror that a man can attend a work meeting late because he gave liquor store cupcakes to his children’s class and be congratulated for his fatherly duties by male peers, while a harried, overworked mother walks into the same work meeting late for the exact same reason and gets flack for it. I’m a quiet person, but some things really trigger my rage. The dismissal of a woman’s issues simply because she is a woman is one of those things.

Rainbow, on the other hand, is dealing with the vacuum created by Andre taking over her usual duties. She tries to talk to her kids, but all of them are busy and/or don’t want to talk to her. As Jack innocently/callously says, “We don’t need you!”

Since there’s nothing else for her to do, Rainbow decides that the only thing left is to be a stereotypical male and bug her partner for sex. Andre isn’t ready to deal with any alpha-male shenanigans—he’s busy trying to win back Jack and Diane’s teacher’s good graces. After the cupcake incident—for which Andre was given the title of “Cupcake Man”—Andre hasn’t had any luck with the teacher or the students.

His great penmanship on some medical forms goes unnoticed, mostly because, as the teacher said, he is doing something that is required of him. His supposed knowledge of Harriet Tubman doesn’t do him any favors, either. Andre might be a black man who has benefited from everything Harriet Tubman has done for our people, but he doesn’t know everything about the woman simply because he’s black. The (white) teacher bursts his “I-know-her-because-we’re-both-black” argument by saying that she’s a published author with beaucoup degrees in American History with a concentration in the Civil War. If it were anyone else, he would immediately defer to the teacher on Tubman. But not Andre. He aims to win back his title as coveted parent by making era-specific cornbread with hand-ground cornmeal. As an obsessive mother bitter over the teacher’s neglect warns him, once you lose the favorite-parent shine, it’s all downhill from there.

And, lo, the obsessive mother’s prophecy is true. It does go more than just downhill for Andre when he waltzes into the classroom with his precious (if dry-looking and seemingly overcooked) cornbread. All of his time and effort are wasted since another dad comes in with kettle corn, something that wasn’t invented in Tubman’s time. Also unnoticed is the obsessive mother’s model of Tubman’s cabin, complete with a marzipan map of Canada.

The true descent into “Classroom Horror Story” comes when the actress portraying Tubman begins to teach the class about Tubman’s life and exploits. As the kids learn, Tubman was a spy for the Union. But Andre, the self-professed scholar of the Civil War, declares the actress to be a phony who knows nothing about Tubman. He proceeds to make a scene about the supposed made-up facts and the kettle corn, embarrassing his poor children.

Back home, Rainbow tells Andre that he’s become a monster when it comes to school projects and hogging the teacher’s attention. Rainbow also has problems with Andre’s house-running skills, such as putting apples with applesauce in the fridge and not lining up the silverware to her specifications (i.e. big fork, little fork). Andre is glad to inform her that she’s a control freak and can’t handle someone else running the house in a way different from hers.

As Andre goes outside to cool off, Pops—who is entertaining a lady friend—comes out of the guest house to see what all the commotion is about. Pops gives him some advice as to how to get things back the way they were. Crazy got him into this mess, he says. Crazy will get him out.

Andre’s version of “crazy” is to have all of the kids act suspiciously nice to Rainbow the next morning. They tell her how much they miss her bland, healthy breakfasts and listening to boring books on tape during their school rides. Rainbow concedes to Andre’s weak attempt at getting status quo back in the house. But, we see that they do learn something about each other. Andre is very much appreciative of everything Rainbow does, and Rainbow is glad to have a husband that knows when to step in and take care of things from time to time. I think this element could have been played up a bit more so it wouldn’t rely too much on the “Moms-love-doing-everything” idea, but there’s only 30 minutes in an episode.

What did you think of the episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

Black-ish airs Wednesdays at 9:30/8:30C on ABC.


TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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