Sunday, January 17, 2016

Black-ish 2x12 “Old Digger” (Dre Can Be Tried As An Adult) [Contributor: Jen W.]

“Old Digger”
Original Airdate: January 13, 2016

I have a confession to make: I am utterly, deeply, totally in love with Black-ish. There are a lot of reasons for this true devotion, but the most obvious of reasons is that it’s out-of-this-world hilarious.

Now in its second season, Black-ish has yet to hit that dreaded “sophomore slump,” continuously churning out gut-busting, hilarious episodes. Black-ish reminds me so much of my own family, and then not like them at all. I regularly, literally, laugh out loud. Sometimes I miss things and have to rewind just to make sure I understood every aspect of the well-written jokes. It is witty, fresh, inventive, and to be frank, the kids on that show — Zoey, Junior, Jack, and Dianne — regularly show up the adults and prove that funny can come in very small packages.

This episode started out with us learning about Dre’s (Anthony Anderson) aversion to men dating his mother. Dre’s parents Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) and Pops [Earl] (Laurence Fishburne) have been divorced for some time. While Pops has regularly dated women younger, and younger, bringing them around to Dre and telling him “she might be your new mama,” Dre just “went with the flow.” It was expected and normal.

This is then juxtaposed with how Dre views his mother (“The Virgin Ruby”) and any of her potential suitors. We are treated with a hilarious view of a young Dre making sure all his mother’s potential beaus are sent packing almost immediately, including knocking one down the stairs.

With all this information under our belts, we then learn that Ruby has gotten herself a new man, and “he’s a passionate and firm lover.” Dre, of course, is beside himself with the knowledge that his mother is dating. Anthony Anderson puts in an incredible performance in this episode, really honing in on the insecurities of a man who views his mother as mom first and woman second. And that’s an important theme that doesn’t get ignored by the show.

We find out that Dre’s kids have helped their grandmother sign up for a dating website called Ratch — We’re also treated to a list of men Ruby would be interested in dating: Idris Elba, Tom Selleck, Al Jarreau, and Jesse Jackson on the balcony/any surface. The kids tell Ruby she needs to be less specific and help her define her likes and dislikes. It turns out to not be quite as useful as intended, since her likes include Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds, Filene’s Basement, and intimacy, while her dislikes are Satan, demons, cilantro, and Bow’s (Tracee Ellis Ross) cooking.

The B-plot of the episode has the kids teasing Junior (Marcus Scribner) about being catfished on the same website that they’ve signed Ruby up for. They convince Junior to test this supposed girl "Kiersten" he’s talking to, though they’re all pretty sure he’s falling into some Nigerian scam.

The time comes for Dre to meet his mother’s new boyfriend, and after an unhelpful and wayward talk from Pops, he’s convinced that he has nothing to worry about — and of course, he’s utterly wrong. Ruby’s new boyfriend Davis (guest star LaMonica Garrett) is young, strapping, and excessively handsome. He’s the owner of several specialty stores, courteous, considerate, and prays before dinner. Dre is immediately in crisis mode and plots a way to breakup his mother and Davis.

He first goes to his unhelpful group of coworkers, who range from utterly absurd to delightfully confused. They do nothing (seriously, it’s a crazy funny two minute interlude where the phrase “The golden girls like to get down” is uttered, but totally unhelpful) and it make him even more determined to break up his mother and Davis. So Dre enlists the help of his father, after Jack and Dianne call Davis Pop-Pop, “because he’s twice as strong as Pops.”

Pops attempts to seduce Ruby once he learns that her new beau is young, fit, and popular with his grandkids. Ruby and Pops have such a wicked and interesting relationship. Lewis and Fishburne also play incredibly well off of one another, and you believe the animosity as much as you believe the lingering feelings are there as well. Pops tries to seduce Ruby with Cutty Sark and his infamous South African Amulet.

This fails to work as well, so Dre does the most drastic thing he can think of: faking a heart attack. Ruby comes rushing to the rescue, performing an impromptu exorcism, leaving Davis bewildered, and Bow (who is actually a doctor) completely annoyed.

Davis leaves, saying the family obviously has some issues to work out. Dre feels like he’s won, and is vindicated, but ultimately comes to realize that his mother is her own person, and deserves to be happy.

It’s a mixture of ridiculous fun, a manchild trying to be more man and less child, and incredible performances that get to the heart of what this episode is all about: your parents are freaky people who need love, too. We just don’t want to think about that. Ever.

  • The B-plot of the episode resolves with Junior meeting up with his supposed catfisher who is not a catfisher at all, but a girl who thinks The Incredible Hulk is Marvel’s best movie.
  • Junior standing on the table of the potential castfisher yelling “Boo this man!”
  • Dre singing and clapping “oh my lawd, lawd, lawd” throughout the most awkward moments when his mother mentions Davis and lover in the same sentence.
  • “Kiersten, tell ‘em whose milkshake brought you to the yard!”
  • Rainbow and Ruby’s cantankerous and hilarious relationship and mutual loving/loathing.


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