Apparently, Bow is an “Unkept Woman” and Dre needs to check himself on black-ish.
Just before black-ish took its mini-hiatus, Bow, at the urging (more like guilt-tripping) of Dre, decided to become a stay-at-home mom so that she could spend more time with the children. At first, Bow struggled with wrapping her head around the idea of no longer going to work full-time, but with Junior’s help, she eventually did.
Now that Bow no longer has to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to get ready and leave for work, Dre reflects on how easy things are flowing for him and the kids. Instead of feeling put upon by the burden of giving them frozen waffles (oh the hardships he suffers), Bow prepares customized sandwiches and shares carpooling duties with Junior, works on the taxes four months early and picks up Dre’s home cleaning.
After Diane and Jack hustle away in embarrassment, Bow is approached by a few of the stay-at-home moms and after a bit of cajoling Bow agrees to go to yoga class, and while I’m happy that Bow is finally making friends, couldn’t at least one of them be black? Is that asking too much? Dre arrives at work with a smile on his face and a pep in his step. Noticing Dre’s attitude, Stevens asked him if a new Tyler Perry movie was out and Dre said “there’s a new Tyler Perry movie out every day” and I chuckled because it’s true. Dre explained that the reason he was in a good mood because he had the whole morning to himself since Bow is home now to take care of the kids. Hearing this, Stevens tells him that the “woman” stays home to “take care of her man,” cook his meals and keep the toilet spotless.
As Dre arrives at home to find Devante sitting in his roller chair, a woman walks in and he refers to her as “Black Nanny 2.” When she reminds him that her name is Erica and that Bow had her wear a name tag for two weeks, Dre responds with an attitude saying “for what, I’m not going to forget your name is Black Nanny 2.” I had to take a deep breath.
Before I get any further, I have to address what just happened in that scene and why I find it hella problematic. In previous reviews, I’ve mentioned my displeasure with how Dre treats Bow, but now I’m going to talk about how he treats other women and it’s not good. From the beginning, Dre has always been mildly snarky with how he addresses and speaks to black women. Granted black-ish hasn’t had that many black women guest star (blinks at screen) but when they do, the characters are always treated poorly by him.
I find it extremely problematic that a show based on a ‘modern’ black family, has the male lead speak and refer to women so disdainfully. When he referred to Erica, a grown woman who works for him as ‘Black Nanny 2’, I became highly offended. Not only did he refuse to acknowledge her request to be called by her given name, this isn’t the first time Dre has treated an employee like this. In episode 18 of season two, Dre persisted in calling Vivian (Regina King) “Black Nanny” despite her objections, and to add insult to injury the episode itself was titled “Black Nanny.” Yes really.
Another thing that bothered me was Bow making Erica wear a name tag. Like, what? Is Dre incapable of learning the name of an adult? Instead of talking to Dre about his treatment of someone they pay to look after their children, Bow condoned and enabled his behavior.
As someone who works with children at a public school, and previously as a nanny, I found Dre’s dismissiveness extremely disrespectful not only to Erica but to nannies in general. If an employer referred to me that way I’d demand my final check and walk out the door. It’s clear he finds the job to be ‘beneath him’, despite him not being able to do the bare minimum for his own dang children. How the heck is he going to be sanctimonious, that should the situation be reversed and Stevens addressed him as “Black Ad Man,” Dre would get on his high-horse and give a speech about the disrespect black men face in corporate America? Heck there would be an entire episode centered around it.
Ok, Rant over….for now. Over time, Bow starts to take more time for herself, going to yoga, getting her hair done regularly and even buying new fly outfits, but instead of being happy for Bow, Dre grows to resent her. He even spies on Bow to track her movements at home and even allowed his co-workers to watch this gross invasion of his wife’s privacy.
Once again listening to the stupid advice of Stevens — a man who married his maid just so he wouldn’t have to pay her — Dre tells Bow that she needs to do more, has been neglecting him because she forgot his dry cleaning, AND if she wants to buy something Bow needs to pass it by him since he’s the only one who works now. When Bow becomes offended at being referred to as a “kept woman,” Dre actually tells her that he wants to speak to her “white side,” which by the way reinforces the negative stereotype that black women are argumentative while white women are more passive.
Suddenly it becomes clear to Bow — not me, ’cause I been knew — that Dre wanted her to stay home to cater to his needs and not because he thought it would be beneficial to her and the children. After having an epiphany, Dre realizes that he’s acting like Stevens and somewhat apologizes to Bow, who explains to him that this is the first time she’s had time for herself in eighteen years.
Frankly, I’m fed-up with Dre, he’s rude, lazy, selfish and treats women like crap. Yes, he’s been this way from the beginning, but to me, it seems that he’s doubled down on this behavior and if black-ish doesn’t fix this they’ll be down one viewer because the only thing keeping me interested is Bow and the kids.
And for the record there is nothing “unkept” about Rainbow Johnson. I know the title is making a reference to Bow not being a “kept woman”, but that’s not what the term “unkept” generally means, so this title makes no sense as it relates to the premise of the episode.
Johnson Family Musings
- I want all of Bow’s outfits from this episode, my girl’s hair was laid and her body snatched. #YAASS
- I don’t see why Dre couldn’t pick up the dry cleaning himself.
- Diane’s attitude is changing from being entertaining to just plain ole mean.
black-ish airs every Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST, follow the show on Twitter @black_ishABC .
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Carolyn is an aspiring film critic, Bajan nerd living in Toronto and an avid Jane Austen fan. I enjoy speculating on plot theories for my favorite TV shows, such as The Walking Dead, The Expanse, and black-ish. Oh, I will do karaoke anytime, anywhere. Follow on Twitter @Carriecnh12