Directed by Salli Richardson-Whitfield. With Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown. Dre and Bow are furious after Diane isn't lit properly in her class photo; Junior claims there is unspoken colorism within the family.
I often appreciate these non-comedic episodes that don’t seem to fit thematically into the broader series that I signed up to watch, but I’m typically conflicted into thinking I ought to give up on the series at the same time. I’m glad that they’re putting some of these ideas into the series and in some sense force feeding their audience ideas they should be aware of.
In this case, the ideas, while certainly interesting and worthwhile aren’t very new or unique to me, so I feel like they’re standing on a soap box and pontificating down to me. Perhaps worse, most of the cast of the show is very light skinned, and as a result the topic they’re presenting feels a bit white-washed as a result. I have to wonder if the cinematographers are lightening the characters on the show itself? While this show doesn’t often have guest stars, it would be nice to see some additional diversity on it so that it felt like the producers are occasionally practicing what they’re preaching. As a result, this particular episode, while gripping in parts, felt a bit stilted to me.
I also can’t help but notice that the “white” Greek chorus at Dre’s workplace don’t appear in this episode, and that actually makes the more specific point of how classically stereotyped those characters are in contrast. I’m left wondering why there are no positive portrayals of “white” people for the segment of viewers to know who to hold up up as potential role models. I’ve heard about studies of satire relating to politics that people too often see what they want reflected back to them, so those who are borderline (or even excessively) racist aren’t going to see this show and necessarily change their viewpoints because they won’t see the awkward boss or co-workers and actually think that they’re acting inappropriately. This may mean that the show’s producers aren’t having the impact that they might otherwise be out to have when doing these more dramatic, social change focused episodes.
This show has now got me thinking of things three levels deeper than any of the issues it was trying to more overtly raise… and then I find myself wondering where is the comedy and satire I actually sat down to experience here?!