As a parent, when do you decide it’s time to get hired help to take care of your kids and your home? It’s something Dre struggles with in Black-ish, along with his “black white guilt,” when Bow decides the Johnson family needs a nanny — and hires a black woman for the job.
Dre begins Wednesday’s episode with an admission: Parenting requires a perfectly coordinated team, but lately Dre and Bow have been slipping, as evidenced by the medical waste Bow accidentally packs in Jack’s lunchbox or Dre’s ironing mishap on both his and Junior’s shirts. But forgetting to pick Diane up from school is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
When Bow suggests bringing a nanny into the team, Dre is immediately against the idea, stating that nannies are only for white people (so is listening to Kenny G and using a neti pot according to Bow, but Dre does both gladly). Dre argues that he wasn’t raised with with a nanny, but Bow counters that his mother raised him with all kinds of help from her family. Since Ruby and Pops are barely around as it is, it’s time to look outward for assistance, and Bow runs the gambit of choices for Dre, who doesn’t like any (save for one stereotypically hot girl in a tight dress).
Dre runs the nanny idea by his co-workers, and their shock proves his mindset is wrong. So despite the underwhelming British au pairs and mannies, Bow’s last appointment is one that she really loves: Vivian. She just happens to be a black woman (played by the wonderful Regina Hall), and that just happens to rub Dre the wrong way.
Dre instantly hates the idea of a “black nanny” (which is what he calls her throughout the rest of the episode). At first he can’t even say the word “black” when describing her. But Vivian still wins Bow over by saying it’s her job to take care of the whole family, not just the kids.
Vivian is hired, and when Dre and Bow come home to a clean house, well-behaved kids, and mac and cheese for dinner (made with fancy cheese and Velveeta!), even Dre is pretty glad for the extra help…but that doesn’t last long.
In almost an instant, Dre begins to feel guilty about his wealth (or rather how much he spends it) when Vivian talks about how great his life is compared with her lower-middle class problems. And what makes him feel worse is seeing how well Bow gets along with Vivian, to the point of Vivian seeing Bow naked, bathing in her tub.
Dre’s co-workers tell him that what he is feeling is “black white guilt,” which Daphne tells him is worse than regular white guilt because “we came from being the help to having help.” The work gang’s advice on how to overcome his conflicted feelings about his “black nanny”? Just hum a relatable “cultural song” of his choice! Unfortunately, Dre takes that advice and incorporates it into his three-step plan to free himself of black white guilt:
1) First he hides his stuff, which is unsuccessful because he spends way too much money on way too many things
2) Then he decides to walk out of the room every time he starts to feel bad
3) End with that “cultural song”. Unfortunately he chooses Santana’s “Oye Como Va”. Not so relatable.
Just as things get to Dre’s tipping point of discomfort, Bow says she wants to fire the nanny. Apparently, when Bow visited a nail salon recommended and frequented by Vivian, she discovered Vivian has been airing the Johnson family dirty laundry to anyone who will listen.
Dre and Bow start to plan their firing speech until they see just how great Vivian is with their children. Not only does she find a way to connect to Diane and Zoey, she was also able to get Jack to change his underwear three of five days in a week. That’s impressive.
So instead of firing “black nanny,” they sit her down with some stipulations: Dre says he needs to be comfortable with who he is while “black nanny” is around, and Bow makes it clear that what happens at the Johnson’s stays at the Johnson’s. It’s time for professionalism, and that being said, Vivian finally tells Dre that it’s time to stop calling her “black nanny.” Understandable request.
Much of the kids’ story lines ties back to Vivian as well in “Black Nanny.” Diane starts out the episode trying to defeat Susie Kwest to become their class president. But her chilly disposition isn’t going to win votes, especially with her painfully awkward ads. Zoey decides to run her campaign and begins with an attack video against Susie, which bolsters Diane’s public opinion. Unfortunately, Susie returns fire with an ad showing Diane’s true cold persona.
NEXT: Diane vs. Vivian: Round 1
Jack and Junior, meanwhile, have fallen for Vivian and focus on trying to find ways to get closer to her. Jack does appeals to her motherly instincts. Junior appeals to nothing.
When Zoey and Diane decide to turn up the heat with a truly terrible attack ad, claiming Susie Kwest wets the bed, Vivian stops them and gives them a stern talking to about doing the right thing and being better. The talk goes over well at first, until Diane learns that Susie has won the election (much to Jack’s elation). She tells Vivian that, despite losing, she knows she can go to bed with a clear conscious, but she’s clearly lying and biding her time to take her revenge on her new nanny. And to Vivian’s credit, she seems to be in the know about Diane’s likely vicious future plans.
Diane vs. Vivan Round 2 approaches. I’m not sure any of us are quite ready.
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BEST LINES OF THE NIGHT
“Hello! Doesn’t anybody do a head count around here? You never know how many white vans there are until you have to walk home by yourself.” —Diane to her parents, after being left at school
“You don’t have a nanny? Then how are you raising your 10 kids?” —Daphne, clearly knowing nothing about her employees
“Like if it was the end of the world and we were the only two people left, I would prefer it that way. —Junior, revealing the true depths of his love for Vivian
“I bet it’s how Carlos Santana feels when he walks past day laborers at Home Depot. Just looks away and pretends to be on his phone.” —Daphne on racism and Carlos Santana’s possible Hispanic white guilt
Vivian: In the spirit of keeping things professional, do you think you can stop calling me ‘black nanny’?
Dre: In the same spirit, can you please remind me what you real name is?