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'Black-ish' recap: Mom's here!

Season 1 | Episode 8 | “Oedipal Triangle” | Aired Nov 19, 2014

Andre has faced family challenges on black-ish such as spanking, getting his oldest son ready for manhood, and combating the dangers of spoiled kids with as much aplomb as a normal person with issues of their own can. But he still hasn’t conquered the task that fellow TV husband Ray Barone failed spectacularly at—getting his mother and his wife to be friends.

Frankly, I don’t know how tough it is for mothers-in-law and wives to get along—my parents got along great with each other’s moms, and most people I know have good relationships with their in-laws. But real life isn’t a sitcom, so let the anger commence!

We find out what happened to our dear Pops: he’s on an island vacation. Maybe he’s with that unseen ladyfriend he was entertaining a while back. Something tells me that ladyfriend is probably 20 years his junior. Pops has got the mack like that, I’m sure. He’s probably been told he looks suspiciously like Laurence Fishburne, after all.

Since Pops is gone, that gives Ruby, Andre’s mother, ample time to swing by the Johnson household and visit her baby boy. By the way, it’s always a great time to have Jenifer Lewis—my favorite of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air aunts, Aunt Helen—on the television screen. She’s one of the most appreciated-yet-underappreciated actresses of our time. Just watch Jackie’s Back!—it’s a classic that’ll show you the full extent of her talent.

Ruby is unlike Rainbow in every way. Ruby gives her grandchildren age-inappropriate gifts like thongs and MA-rated video games; Rainbow (rightly) thinks they’re too young for that stuff. Rainbow makes healthy food without a lot of taste to save Andre’s heart; Ruby cooks food that’s deep in flavor as well as grease—that’s where the flavor is, after all! Rainbow straightens Diane’s hair to save time; Ruby believes in wearing her hair in a supple, buoyant afro to display her Zulu-Cherokee heritage. (Sidebar: Somehow, every black family, including mine, has that mystical “Cherokee” ancestor. Supposedly, that ancestor for me is my great-great grandfather, while others claim an untraceable Cherokee princess. Supposedly, my ancestor is real, but then again, so is everyone else’s if you ask them.)

Rainbow may be Andre’s wife, but Ruby is Andre’s mother, the woman who gave him life and is his emotional rock (since his father’s not very gentle when it comes to emotions). But Andre’s habit of coddling her and sharing private things in Rainbow’s life leaves Rainbow at her wit’s end. Things come to a screeching halt when Rainbow, after being promised a romantic bath with Andre, climbs out of the tub and finds Andre asleep like a baby with his mother, a half-eaten, fattening-but-delicious flaky biscuit in his hand.

Andre’s co-workers, especially Charlie, distance themselves from Andre’s mama’s-boy ways. Instead, Josh suggests, he should treat his mom and wife as “separate but equal.” The dude never fails to offend, but taking the root of that sentiment, Andre finds something to work with.

He takes the two women in his life to the lookout, which, unfortunately, was where he told his mom about his college dreams and where he proposed to Rainbow. He does, however, get them to bond over two things: they occupy different spaces in Andre’s life and they both hate how Andre never washes his hands.

Everything’s fine until they get back home. Ruby has washed and picked-out Diane’s hair to give her an afro equal to Ruby’s own. Even though it does look cute, Rainbow’s not having any of it. It’s Rainbow’s executive decision that rules what happens to Diane’s head, not Ruby’s! Andre does finally do the grown-up thing: instead of going to his mother after one of her coughing fits, he consoles Rainbow in their bedroom. He even makes her laugh by telling her that he and his siblings used to call their mom “Coughy-Klatch.”

However, the term “Coughy-Klatch” comes back to bite him in the butt when, the next morning, Rainbow realizes that Andre’s told more of her secrets to his mother. Everything starts out well enough: Ruby is restraightening Diane’s hair (with the dreaded but powerfully effective hot comb, no less) and apologizes to Rainbow, which makes her happy. But once Ruby reveals that Andre told her how overwhelmed she felt in her own home, Rainbow retaliates by telling Ruby the awful name Andre calls her behind her back. This launches Ruby into an actual coughing fit as she storms out of the kitchen, leaving Diane’s “kitchen” undone.

(Sidebar 2: Who remembers getting their scalp, ear, and/or forehead burned by the hot comb? As a kid, I was actually relieved to get the dangerous chemicals of the kiddie perm. Now, the hair’s all natural to showcase that Zulu-Cherokee heritage.)

Andre nearly tears out Diane’s hair trying to finish the styling process, but Zoey steps in to help fix the hair issue and to give her dad some solid advice. There can only be one queen at a time, and while Ruby’s Andre’s mom, Rainbow is the head of the house and should be given first dibs.

Andre finally comes to his senses and gives his wife her due in her house, which means eating bland quinoa (and stuffing his mom’s awesome meatloaf in the car). No more talk about how black people don’t go to therapy because we’ve got Jesus! Hooray! (Sidebar 3: Ruby’s therapy statement is funny, but is a bleak commentary on how many of us still see therapy as something “we don’t do.”)

By the way, Andre Jr. had Zoey coach him getting the Head Girl in School, but it backfired—she only wanted him to polish up her entry video for The Bachelor. The girl Zoey really should have helped Andre Jr. get was the girl he was picking through trash with.

What did you think of this episode?

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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