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'black-ish' fan recap: Stompin' (and breakdancin') at the Savoy

Season 1| Episode 24| “Pops’ Pops’ Pops | Aired May 20, 2015

Sad times! The season finale of black-ish has come and gone. But even though fans view season finales as depressing occasions, this was one of the happiest, most joyous finales I’ve seen in a while. Even better was the message at the end.

The finale features Pops telling the Johnson kids all about their family tree. Jack and Diane, tasked with a school project detailing their family history, have come up short as to who comes after their grandparents in their lineage. Pops fills in the gaps with a very colorful story about their great-great-great grandfather, Drexel (Drex) Johnson. Drex, the equivalent to today’s Andre, is an iceman at the legendary Savoy nightclub in Harlem, owned by gangster Elroy Savoy (guest star Sean “Diddy” Combs) and featuring singer Mirabelle Calais (guest star Mary J. Blige). Drex doesn’t have a lot of money or clout, but he has vowed to marry the love of his life, the glamorous arm dancer Bea, who looks mysteriously just like Rainbow.

Having the current family members play family elders in a flashback episode is a classic sitcom conceit, but I dare say that black-ish makes it feel fresh, mainly because the ’20s characters don’t have many analogs to current-day characters. There are some similarities, like coat-check girl Zora (Zoey) inventing texting by using a portable morse code device, and little orphan Jolly (Jack) can dance the pants off grown men, but you can see that the actors really develop separate personalities for these characters. Laurence Fishburne dives into his character, sports bookie Bippy Barnes, putting his silver fox mystique back on once he’s out of the role of a leisure suit-wearing grandpa. Marcus Scribner makes his shoe-shine boy/mega-predictor character Jojo Rags a guy who’s just trying to make it in life and wants people to believe that WWII is about to happen.

The conceit is also turned on its head when the episode decides to show all aspects of the ’20s. black-ish injects some searing commentary about racism and colorism in the form of the ad exec and the member of the creative team, versions of Andre’s unwittingly racist boss and his unwittingly racist friend Josh. That ad with the black girl serving the ritzy white woman? Bold. Even bolder is having the boss say the girl needs to be blacker to really push the subservience. This was said in an ABC primetime comedy. Something even bolder than that? Having the janitor (the ’20s version of Charlie) play up how he’d be too dark to get into the Savoy, a black club, even though his girl would be able to because she’s light-skinned. Layers of social commentary! I loved it.

Back to the plot. Drex wants to save Bea from her contract with Savoy. To do that, he gives up his life savings (five dollars) and challenges Savoy to a dance duel, which should be easy, since Savoy can’t dance to save his life. But, Savoy already knows he can’t dance (thanks to his brother, whom I assume he killed after he informed him). So Drex has to go up against Jolly. Jolly owns Drex, and when Drex slips on some of his own ice, all is lost. Until Drex invents breakdancing! Drex even had the sense to bet against himself, so he ended up winning some money back! He and Bea escape the club, thanks to Jojo tying Savoy’s shoes to the table. Zora, Jolly and Dolly also help with the escape, and once it’s revealed that the kids are orphans, they’re all taken in by Bea and Drex, becoming a big happy family. By the way, the leave in the club matron’s car (the matron being Ruby). Bippy gave them the keys just to spite her.

The show ends with Ruby trying to pass off Aunt Jemima as a long lost family member and a flash-forward to Jack and Diane getting an F on their report, which may or may not be full of lies. But more important is what Andre says; the story, and to a larger extent, black-ish itself and other forms of entertainment detailing the black experience, are part of our collective family and our culture. It’s always important that we tell it. Or else, we forget and believe much more egregious lies, the lies that ad men like the ones featured in this episode and the media as a whole try to pass off as truth. We may have been servants, but not by choice. We have been placed in menial roles, but we have also been dancers, singers, businessmen, even royalty. It’s up to us to tell those stories so we all can know our history.

What did you think of this finale?

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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