Black-ish recap: Johnson & Johnson
Dre and Bow argue over whether women should change their last names after marriage as Ruby struggles to accept her daughter's soon-to-be wife
The return of Dre’s sister, Rhonda (welcome back Raven!), and her impending nuptials with her fiancée, Sharon, cause tonight’s episode of Black-ish to talk about what else… family. But given the nature of the show and the nature of Bow, the conversation quickly turns into a debate about feminism.
DRE & BOW
Dre begins the episode with immense pride, his sister is getting married — a tradition Dre greatly appreciates given it provided him with the love of his life and his “perfect chocolate Norman Rockwell family.” The only question Dre has when it comes to a lesbian wedding is who takes whose last name?
Bow asks him why anyone has to take anyone’s last name in the first place as she didn’t change her last name when she married Dre, a fact Dre did not realize, and to be fair no one probably did given Rainbow’s last name is Johnson. Yet, Dre has a bit of a hissy fit when he discovers this piece of information, which surprises Bow since Dre had briefly changed his name to “Yousef Supreme Justice Allah.”
Having most of Dre’s co-workers agree with him doesn’t make matters any better (another week, another usual outcome). Even Daphne agrees with him, especially since she also took her ex-husband’s last name (and many other things in their divorce). Stevens even tells Dre that he’s starting to look less like a man, a fact that really seems to hit home with this particular Johnson as he tells Bow later the same and stands his ground on his side of the debate.
To Bow, keeping her own last name is not a sign of any kind of malice, it all comes from being a proud feminist, to which Ruby scoffs as she does with all showing of feminism. Bow says that she can’t understand why any self-respecting, career-minded woman would not want to keep their last name, a problematic argument that both Zoe and Diane poke holes in immediately. Zoe questions how her mother would feel if she took her future husband’s last name, and Diane tells her mother that shaming other women doesn’t feel like a very feminist thing to do. Bow’s retaliation to that argument is that feminism is about “women having choices” and that “obviously there is a right choice.”
Eventually even Rhonda gets in on the debate and surprisingly takes her mother’s side. She explains that African-American women in an earlier generation — like her mother — had a much harder time being feminists because they had the tough choice between feminism or civil rights. Ruby adds that for black women taking their husbands’ last names was a trophy: It meant they were chosen, and that’s why she continues to use Earl’s last name. It’s not to honor Earl; it’s to honor herself.
Dre decides to take the argument one step further by asking Rhonda to propose the idea of having her fiancée, Sharon, take her last name. Sharon’s parents have a problem with the new arrangement and soon debate the change with the Johnson’s (minus Bow). And in order to finally solve the debate once and for all, the families agree to a game of ping-pong.
After Dre is injured (barely), Rhonda stops the silliness and explains to Sharon that considering they only recently got the right to get married, she doesn’t care about the names. She only cares about them sharing one particular name: wife.
Dre finally realizes that his annoyance and sadness over Last Name-gate did not come from some kind of misplaced masculinity issue. When Dre and Bow met, Dre was nothing. So when he married her and thought she took his name, he thought that meant Bow really believed in him. But Dre realizes now that he doesn’t need a last name to prove Bow believes in him. Plus, he adds, “I fell in love with Rainbow Johnson, so why wouldn’t I wanna be married to Rainbow Johnson?” The two agree to not mess with their last name status quo, and Rhonda and Sharon decide they’ve had enough family time and agree to elope.
NEXT: Ruby’s, ahem, EVERYONE’S Best Lines of the night
The elopement is especially hard on both Jack and Diane, who worry throughout the episode about their place in the wedding. Junior and Zoe taunt them about being too old for their usual ring bearer and flower girl duties. So at the end of the ping-pong idiocy and the important conversations about marriage and feminism, they perform a fun little dance break for the whole extended family to enjoy.
Normally Ruby doesn’t warrant a whole section to herself, but this time it’s absolutely necessary for her random comments about lesbians alone. Most will be documented in the “Best Quotes of the Night” below, but it is important to note that despite having a less than positive reaction to Rhonda’s coming out news, Ruby eventually warms to Sharon’s presence, enough that she asks Sharon to call her “Good Mama Ru-Ru.” If Ruby can change this much, there is hope for the world, right?
BEST QUOTES OF THE NIGHT
“The lesbians are coming.” —Ruby’s Paul Revere moment
“153 percent of women take their husbands’ last names.” —Dre’s incorrect, implausible statistics
“I don’t see why this is an issue. I just want you to do what 179 percent of women do when they get married.” —Dre, wrong once again
“I took my ex-husband’s last name, and in the divorce his pride, his pizza stone, his dead mother’s ashes, all his dress shoes. What size are you?” —Daphne
“Rainbow didn’t take your name, but she sure did take your balls.” —Daphne just being Wanda Daphne
“I couldn’t afford to burn my bra. I only have the one!” —Ruby’s arguments against feminism
“So you’re trusting Jack and Junior to take on your lineage? That feels right to you?” —Diane speaking the truth
Ruby: “I’m gonna beat the black off of you.”
Diane: “Can you really do that?”
Bow: “Oh, no sweetie.”
“Martina Navratilova. Billie Jean King. Ellen DeGeneres.” —Ruby, naming lesbians, to relate to Sharon presumably?
WANT MORE? Keep up with all the latest from last night’s television by subscribing to our newsletter. Head here for more details.
And now for the strangest conversation EVER about lesbians and feminists:
Rhonda: “For the last time mama, lesbians don’t hate men or love tuna!”
Ruby: “No, baby, I’m talking about feminists.”
Rhonda: “Oh they really do hate men, and I don’t know how they feel about tuna.”
Bow: “Feminists do NOT hate men! We actually love tuna.”