The seventh episode of ABC’s Black-ish aired this week, and as the show establishes itself thematically, one of the motifs that it consistently explores is parental trial and error. No matter how many books one reads or advice one stockpiles, parenting requires on-the-job training, and the perils of poor parenting decisions have served as prime comedic fodder for family-sitcom plots for decades.
And Black-ish scores big by routinely taking us behind the scenes into the making-it-up-as-you-go nature of parental decision-making. Andre (Anthony Anderson) and Rainbow’s (Tracee Ellis Ross) job as parents is complicated by the fact that their children are growing up with a significantly more privileged existence than they knew as kids. When faced with the unprecedented challenges that stem from this reality, they frequently find themselves on the field without a playbook, and the fun and the funny come from watching these two parents essentially feel their way over every parenting hurdle.
In the pilot, Dre attempted to help his eldest son, Junior, “connect with his roots” by re-creating a makeshift African rites of passage ceremony. Then, in the episode “The Nod,” Dre learned that Junior was unfamiliar with certain African-American traditions that he considered Black 101, and set out to find him more black friends by trolling random boys at a bus stop and attempting to bring them home with him to befriend Junior.