Black-ish’s second episode, The Talk, may have eased up on the racial social commentary this week and veered more into ‘standard’ sitcom territory by tapping into the old chestnut of a parent’s awkward moment of giving ‘The Sex Talk’ to child, but it still brought the cringe inducing chuckles that go part and parcel with a parent’s realization that their baby is not a baby anymore.
We begin with Dre and Rainbow clearing out their garage when Dre finds lil Andre’s old catcher’s mitt. Moved to spend some quality time with his son, Dre enthusiastically skips to his son’s room and does the stupidest thing ever- barges right into a thirteen-year-old boy’s closed bedroom door without knocking.
As one might expect, poor Dre got an eyeful of lil Andre engaged in – as his traumatized self later describes to Rainbow – ‘hand to gland combat’. Both father and son did a lot of screaming and eye covering and crotch hiding before Dre finally fled from the room. Later, as Dre recounts the scene to Rainbow we learn why he had such an extreme reaction; unlike his wife, Dre’s a little uptight about these things. And by things Rainbow means sex, nakedness, even simply talking about it. Which is why she gave their son the sex talk when it was time. Affronted that Rainbow took away one of THE most important moments between and father and son AND flat out said he doesn’t have it in him to be comfortable enough to talk to the kids on any personal level, Dre accepts the challenge to give his own talk to Dre. Right after he figures out how to do that.
Meanwhile Rainbow’s ego is bruised when oldest daughter Zoey declines to confide in her mother, turning to her cell phone for solace. Finally getting the wave from Zoey off the bench to lend a sympathetic ear, Rainbow so busy congratulating herself in an internal dialogue that she completely misses what Zoey has said to her or what advice to impart. Ooops!
Dre finally works up enough nerve to face Andre, removing his shirt to reveal no affinity for manscaping (The Dre keeps it real!) in a bid to show he isn’t uptight about his body or anything and proceeds to talk around The Sex by doling out…dating advice. Topics covered include how do apply body spray and who to pick as your wingman. Lil’Andre throws his dad for a loop when he questions what oral is but Dre rallies and quickly puts the kibosh on that line of questioning by reminding that a kid like him with wheat allegies shouldn’t stay away from that kind of stuff.
Mission accomplished, Dre basks in his success in giving The Talk and enjoys a celebratory cinnamon stick while Rainbow squirms in her failure to be a present parent for Zoey. Dre’s moment in the sun is short lived when Lil Andre returns for a continuation of their talk, inquiring about sexual positions, most especially The Triceratops which after Dre googles it nearly causes him to destroy his tablet on principle. Dre attempts to steer Andre away from further inquiry but Lil Andre is now a font of questions and Dre gets way more than he bargained for as Andre begins to overshare on every little detail of his nascent sexual life. Apparently Lil Andre is a crier and Helen Mirren really does it for him and he doesn’t care what anybody thinks. By Day 3 of non-stop bonding Andre has had enough avoiding his son like the plague- even resorting to hiding in the laundry room. Finally after Rainbow threatens to make him fold laundry, Dre mans up and faces Lil Andre again. This time to be clear that he loves his son and wants to know what’s going on in his life – the Big stuff and not allll the nitty gritty. That is what his mom is for. Dre understands and is a little relieved he can go back to Rainbow for advice since the shirtless talks with his dad were getting weird.
Speaking of Rainbow, she once again gets a chance to help Zoey with her problems by tricking her into retelling the dilemma through play acting-only for her to space out once again in a self-congratulatory internal monologue. In the end, she faces the music and cops to Zoey that she has no clue as to what she told her which Zoey realized so she went to Pops for advice. And his advice was on point. Rainbow begs to know what Zoey told Pops only for him to admit he too had no clue what his granddaughter was talking about so he just Morgan Freeman’d her (i.e. gave some generic sage advice in a soft soothing voice) and it was all good.
In the end Dre came out with a whole new appreciation of talking honestly with his son and facing his hang ups about sex and one’s body to the point of embracing his own nudity. Testing even Rainbow’s appreciation for the nude male form, Dre freely struts around the house in his birthday suit (Anthony Anderson braving as much as the network pixelator will allow) -even moving beyond the protection of his house to go outside to pick up the paper and mail!
Not to be forgotten, there was a cute little ‘C’ storylet involving the younger Johnsons, twins Jack and Diane, and their scheming to get their father to give them ‘The Talk’ because, well, it seemed important. The most notable thing about their story was Diane doling out a beauty of a burn to her brother as he stares intently at Andre’s closed door:
Diane: Trying to do telekinesis again? (BEAT) You don’t have it.
Solid follow-up to the pilot that was a bit more generic funny but still a half hour well spent.