Black-ish recap: Keeping Up With the Johnsons
Dre and Bow tackle financial planning as Junior dabbles in 'Wolf of Wall Street'-style day trading.
Once again, Black-ish chooses to tackle a topic that frustrates and stresses out millions of Americans every single day of the year: Money. “Everybody wants to have it, but nobody wants to talk about it,” Dre points out. Money may make the world go ‘round, and we may all be consumers, but that doesn’t mean we all understand exactly how to plan out our financial future. What “Keeping Up With the Johnsons” taught us Wednesday night is that Dre really doesn’t know how to plan, and cultural issues apparently are a huge reason.
DRE AND BOW
It’s not that he doesn’t care about making sure his family is secure financially or that he doesn’t want all of his kids to go to college (even if both Dre and Bow don’t actually believe Jack will be going). It’s just that Dre’s all about spending more than the family is saving. “If you didn’t get a paycheck for 400 years, when you did finally get one, you might wanna spend it,” Dre says in the episode’s opening monologue. But as he notes, that kind of attitude nowadays can get you in trouble, which is exactly what happens when Dre and Bow find out just how much money is leaving their pockets (and I do mean pockets because Dre actually keeps wads of cash on him at all times). Things can’t keep going the way they are at the Johnson household, despite Dre’s fantastic FICO credit score (819!) and how well he listens to his money man James Brown’s advice (he has some fascinating ideas about Taco Bell).
Dre doesn’t seem too worried about their money problems at first, but Bow is immediately nervous about where all the expenses are coming from. Looks like all of those expensive sneakers Dre gets overnighted, the organic hair products Bow buys, and the cool G’s Dre lends Pops are really adding up. And Pops’ lectures about money while he borrows some definitely isn’t helping matters either. Bow has always had a difficult relationship with money — her mother’s idea of what money means would make anyone sweat uncontrollably — but Dre isn’t concerned and definitely doesn’t want to take over Bow’s duties as kid wrangler instead of being the money man. Things are fine in his mind…until he talks to his co-workers.
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When Dre pulls out a wad of cash to pay for lunch, the guys lecture him about money management. “Do you think Jay Z walks around with wad of money?” Stevens asks. While Dre and Curtis both say yes, Stevens and Josh tell Dre otherwise. He needs to not only have money in the bank, but also in stocks, investment properties, optimal asset allocation: 10 percent emerging markets, 20 percent hedge funds, 30 percent private equity and charitable donations. Get all that? Well you’re a better human than most of us.
Dre finally realizes it might be time to move past James Brown and at least meet with Stevens’ guy. At first it seems he’s just reassuring Dre about his FICO score and his saving techniques…until he says that they’re heading in the right direction if they want to have kids in the future. Once Dre and Bow correct Stevens’ guy, he tells them point blank: They’re screwed.
So the worst has come. Dre and Bow are forced to work together to make some deep cuts in their expenses (which means Dre becomes part kid wrangler, his worst nightmare). Things get a little ugly during their tough money discussion, with the conversation somehow turning to Dre’s diet and Bow’s monthly sage cleanses and waxing budget. Dre switches from fashionable kicks to “Kirkland’s finest” while Bow’s organic hair products are traded in for Dollar Store conditioner… And things do not go well.
Bow’s hair becomes a frazzled mess while Dre shocks his co-workers (Curtis in particular) with his new fashion statement. Josh wonders why both Dre and Curtis have never worn the same outfit twice, and Dre explains that he can’t repeat an outfit because black men have to “dress the part to get the part [white men] already have.” Stevens, as per usual, says something offensive, but Dre keeps his Kirkland outfit throughout the day. Of course, when he gets home, he sees Bow taking out the organic hair care and gets ready to pull out his high-and-mighty attitude before Bow shows him the two new pairs of sneakers he had overnighted once again. Things finally snap for Bow, who tells Dre that she trusted him to take care of the money and he broke that trust. But when Bow calls her mother to complain about Dre, she realizes that she has the exact same problem as her mother: She always let Dre take care of the finances because she doesn’t understand it, and talking about it makes her feel stupid. It’s a common issue and one that rightfully needed to be discussed on a series that successfully tackles other important family issues.
NEXT: Dre and Bow work out their money problems. But the kids have their own solutions…
Dre tries to blame Pops for not preparing him to take care of his financial future, but Pops quickly puts him in place. In his day, Pops lived check to check as a badge of honor. To Pops, living that way meant that there was always another check to look forward to, like clockwork. But Dre is an educated man who has a successful career and makes a better-than-decent living. His irresponsibility is all on him, and he needs to own up to that. Dre finally understands that his need to spend comes from his desire to buy the things his family could never afford when he was growing up, and Bow apologizes to Dre for making him take over such a difficult job because talking about money scares her. The couple finally understands that they have to work together to make sure their family always stays secure, and they have to talk with the kids about finances, as well, to make sure everyone understands their responsibilities when it comes to saving and spending.
When Dre and Bow discover their property-tax payment, Diane takes their conversation to mean that the Johnsons are broke. Zoey initially states that because she’s going off to college in two years, none of this actually applies to her (does she not realize that it applies more to her because you need money to attend college?), but Junior instantly takes out his disaster-preparedness folder for money issues. After getting through the Dothraki (that’s right, Junior wrote out his plan in a fictional language from Game of Thrones), Junior discovers that his “disaster preparedness” calls for him to start dabbling in day trading.
Quickly, Junior and Jack delve into Wolf of Wall Street territory after realizing that Zoey’s trend-making status will help them figure out just where they should invest money. Diane finally tells Zoey what the boys are up to (after they’ve already traded in their clothes for red suspenders and black slacks), and she decides to close up the free money-making shop if they’re not willing to give her a cut. After going through Zoey’s trash and mimicking the Wolf of Wall Street battle cry, the boys discover Zoey’s lip gloss box in her trash and invest their money in the company… Of course it goes belly up and both boys literally lose the shirts off their backs in the process. Maybe talking about money with the kids from now on is a great idea.
QUOTES OF THE NIGHT:
“I’m supposed to start day trading I think. For some reason I wrote this plan in Dothraki” —Junior, proving that he might never find a girlfriend
“That’s money. It’s an artificial masculine construct that fosters hostility and war and builds a wall between you and love.” –Bow’s mom, forever scarring her on the subject of money
“Like your kids’ ransom?” —Josh, asking what Dre pays for with his giant wad of cash
“Hello, Apple. I’m looking for some inside information.” —Junior, attempting his first illegal activity without realizing it
“I love how you mildly change your personality from week to week, but expect a different result than failure.” —Diane, always speaking the truth
“When was the last time any of us got possessed?” —Bow, trying to justify monthly sage cleanses
“There’s moments in life where you gotta tuck your balls. Other times you gotta let ’em hang,” —Junior, saying things he should never say ever again