Despite the swift downfall of its lead star, The Cosby Show was an important milestone in TV in many way: the most important to tonight’s episode of Black-ish being that it was the first time that a series featured a successful, stable, loving black family. And for Dre, who grew up watching a lot of TV, all he wanted was a life as perfect as the Huxtable’s, a life he worked hard to finally create for himself…until the rumors of layoffs.
Dre hears from Josh, the poor co-worker who really seems to have no purpose at his workplace, that layoffs are happening. Unfortunately, Stevens confirms the rumors, stating that Daphne is flexing her 51 percent in many ways, including potentially changing the name of the company (Option No. 1: Lido’s Place) and possibly firing those who are no longer essential. Dre asks Stevens if his job is protected, but alas, Stevens used his likely one and only save on Manuel, the janitor. Apparently it’s more important to get blood stains out of imported herringbone marble than it is to be the head of a nonexistent market.
That’s right: All the growth Dre believes he’s made in the urban market is kind of null and void considering the urban market has quickly just become the “market.” Now the company plans (and hopes) to spend more time and effort increasing the rural market as Dre hopes and prays he can at least learn how to properly pronounce “rural.” (At least it’s not “The Rural Juror,” am I right, 30 Rock fans?)
Dre reveals his job insecurities with Bow, who, like a wonderful, loving Claire Huxtable-esque wife, tells her husband that she can and will support their family financially if he is a victim of the layoffs. Dre is relieved by his wife’s understanding nature, but Pops (who is still alive despite a worrisome phone call a few weeks back) tells Dre that this is the beginning of the end of Dre and Bow’s marriage. It’s why he believes his marriage with Ruby fell apart — not all the cheating. No, never that. Dre know Pops is incorrect, but there’s no sense in trying to argue with Pops when he is so determined to believe his own unreasonable arguments.
Pops does try to reassure his son a little by explaining that Dre is a moderately competent man so getting laid off is not the end of the world. But for Dre, it’s not so much about the job but the image. Every time he and Bow drop their kids off at school, the other parents always say things like “what a beautiful family.” But Dre believes that what they really mean is that they are surprised that a black family is doing what literally every other family at that school is doing. If Dre fails, then he perpetuates a stereotype that black people can’t get their lives together.
“When one black person fails, it feels like it sets us all back,” Dre explains to Pops. When Pops once again tries to reassure him that he has not failed, Dre replies, “Yet. But they’re waiting for me to.”
While Dre deals with his image and career worries, Bow is hellbent on putting together a perfect auction for the kids’ school. She’s so desperate to do it all by herself that the only help she recruits is from her own kids. Much like Dre, Bow feels just as judged by the parents at the kids’ school, but not about having a stable family like everyone else. Instead, she worries that when someone offers their help, they’re judging her for being a “full-time doctor and a part-time mom.” (Surprisingly all of these judgments seem to come out of one mom’s mouth: Blair)
As the kids help put the auction baskets together, Ruby reveals that most of the presents are essentially garbage because they contain gift cards, which she believes to be “the biggest scam since secondhand smoke.” Yup, this pretty much sums Ruby up in one phrase. She tells the kids that people never actually use their gift cards so sometimes she just hands out empty ones to people (but not the Blockbuster gift card she gave to Jack, of course.)
Eventually, Jack and Diane catch Ruby coming home with a blowout courtesy of one of those gift cards, so she tells the kids that since most gift cards go to waste anyway, they might as well use them up and put the empties back in their auction baskets. Despite Jack’s initial hesitation, the game is on, and Junior and Zoe quickly follow suit.
By the time the no-themed auction rolls around, the kids and Ruby have only one fully-charged gift card left. And that leads to a world of hurt from Dre and Bow.
NEXT: It’s time for some real talk
At this point, Dre is worried about his family and their image so much that he tells everyone to dress to the nines as they hit the school for Bow’s perfect auction. Everything is going according to plan as the parents compliment Dre on his perfect family and Bow on her perfect auction (everyone except Janine, obviously). It’s the calm before the storm: the storm of Dre catching his kids trying to steal from their mother’s auction baskets.
Diane instantly tattles that Ruby is the perpetrator of this entire school-auction fraud scandal (as parents in the school are undoubtedly calling it), and soon the whole family is ripe for a punishment from Dre and Bow. Dre airs his frustrations about how his kids are now likely to be considered thieves and that his family currently looks nothing like the Huxtables.
Pops tries to bring his son out of dreamworld by explaining to Dre that he has been running around trying to be The Cosby Show since he was a child, but Dre doesn’t see the problem with that. “So what if I was? There’s something to seeing a black doctor and a black lawyer living in a loving marriage, raising happy, stable children with no one questioning it,” Dre says. And while they might be a make-believe family, “the dreams they created were real,” Dre adds.
But the one silver lining to having to rebuild the Johnson family image in the community? Bow bid on and ultimately won the greatest prize in the bunch: A cheese night with FLOTUS herself.
Dre also learns that there is one upside to Daphne’s “flexing” of her majority stake in the company: She recently acquired majority shares in another offices causing them to merge, and that means the return of a beloved and greatly missed character: Charlie’s back, y’all! Let’s hope it’s for good.
BEST QUOTES OF THE NIGHT:
“Lido’s Place: Sounds like a place where you get two-for-one Michelobs.” — Stevens, complaining about the potential new company name with a fantastic deal
“Hey Bow, I bet you need help, you full-time doctor, part-time mom, overworked, overtired, barely-putting-enough-together, youngest-calling-the-nanny-mom, nanny-calling-your-husband-daddy, can’t-throw-an-auction mess. We’re all waiting for you to fail.” —What Bow thinks moms at the kids’ school really mean when they offer their help.
BONUS: The names of Bow’s auction baskets alone deserves an entire episode:
“Thar she blows: A blowout from style wizard Chaz Dean and a glass-blowing class.”
“Alpaca my bags: A trip to Peru.”
“Game of phones: A new phone and Khaleesi will do your voicemail in Dothraki”
“Donut worry, be coffee”
“What’chu talkin’ ’bout Wills: Box set of Diff’rent Strokes and estate planning consultation”
“FLOTUS like a butterfly, stink like a brie” — to be fair this one is from Junior and Zoe. They make their mother so proud.