Black-ish cruises a bit in the fourth episode of the season with a Dre and Rainbow centric story where the duo are at odds over his contributions (or lack thereof) to the maintenance of the Johnson family household. In predictable manner Dre of course believes he does his share and in fact may have to ease back due to the demands of his promotion; Rainbow scoffs at Dre’s perceived importance and explains that her day already consists of two fulltime jobs. Pops tosses a few words of warning to his son from digging himself into a deeper hole in this argument but Dre pays him no heed, ultimately telling Rainbow that he will take over her duties of tending to the kids for a whole week to give her time off.
First thing on the agenda? Bake cupcakes for Jack and Diane’s class. Which they dumped on their parents the night before with instructions to make sure they don’t look sloppy like her last batch. Dre hacks this problem like a pro: he brings store bought cupcakes from a liquor store for the kiddies to feast on. Praised by not only the kids but the other parents and the kids’ teachers, Dre feels like the best most appreciated dad ever. When he shows up at work slightly late for a meeting he gives his apologies and mentions that he was being a dad and had to take his kids some cupcakes. He gets a hearty, ‘Way to go!” from all his male colleagues. When a female colleague hurriedly arrives citing her apologies for her tardiness due to her sick kid? She gets a tsk tsk and frown from her colleagues. (I see what you’re doing there show!)
Meanwhile Rainbow is having a tough time relaxing when she discovers that Dre has (gasp!) done the shopping and restocked the refrigerator completely incorrectly. There’s lettuce on the top shelf and not the crisper, milk on the door and not in the iced interior. It’s a control freak’s nightmare and unfortunately for one of Rainbow’s patients, her reorganizing her refrigerator is more important than meeting them for a consult.
That night, Dre is still feeling the highs of being the cupcake man, Jack and Diane pumping up balloon a bit more with a thank you note signed by the whole class for such awesome cupcakes. Rainbow smarts in never, ever having gotten a thank you and Dre rubs it in by leading a dance to a catchy little tune of ‘Cupcake Man’ throughout the house with Jack and Diane.
Day two of as Pops termed it ‘Freaky Friday’, Dre is making the kids breakfast and attempting to assuage his hurt wife’s feelings. Rainbow is feeling pretty mature and accepts his apology but the two fall right back into a battle of parenting over completion of health forms. Dre insists to a reluctant Rainbow that her week off isn’t over and he dutifully turns in the health forms to the school- but doesn’t get a cookie. Starved for even a pat on the head, for the chance to even get a pat on the head, Dre tries to horn in on assisting in the Harriet Tubman presentation for the class, citing that his blackness are credentials enough. The American Studies, Civil War specialized teacher declines his assistance leaving Dre roaming the halls feeling empty, in search of praise and ripe for the picking of another mom from the class who warns Dre that he’s now in the slow slide into taken for granted-villes where no matter how hard you work the accolades will no longer come.
Dre ain’t about to let that happen and is busy grinding corn to make authentic cornbread when Rainbow comes a ‘knockin’ looking for some lovin since she has all this free time with the kids not needing her attention or help (having checked in with Andre, Zoey, Jack and Diane with none of them taking pity on her need to be needed). Dre, not realizing he was the fourth check in on Rainbow’s list, dismissed his wife, having no time for sexy fun. He had cornbread to cook and adoration to receive.
Unfortunately for Dre, the kids have a new hero dad. One that brought individual bags of kettle corn and Dre was left bitterly muttering with the other desperate parent holding his pan of cornbread. Unable to contain his hurt and disappointment, Dre ends up melting down in front of everyone – the teachers, parents, kids, AND Harriet Tubman (a reenactor; not the real deal) and goes from hero dad to zero dad in less than a day.
Not shamed at all by his actions, Dre begins writing an angry email to the kids’ school for all the crimes perpetuated against him – being thrown out, the fallacy of Harriet Tubman being a spy, no one eating his cornbread- when Rainbow realizes that he’s become the ‘Crazy Mom’ The mom that is a praise junkie in search of their next hit. Dre scoffs and counters that Rainbow is a control freak; he knows she rearranged the refrigerator and silverware drawer which leads to a delightful moment of Tracee Ellis Ross explaining the order of the silverware as Big Spoon, Baby Spoon, Big Fork, Baby Fork causing Dre to run shrieking from the kitchen in disbelief.
And now we get Pops in for the sage moment of the show, trying to make Dre see that what’s really driving Rainbow bonkers if him trying to be a mom while she’s being a mom. He’s horning in on her territory. Dre doesn’t know how to talk to her so Pops suggests a more drastic approach which actually just amounts to Dre telling the kids to lavish their mother with praise and need so she feels better, which Rainbow sees through but appreciates nonetheless. Dre apologizes, Rainbow apologizes and there are promises of sexy times later on where she’ll play Harriet Tubman to his Frederick Douglas which…doesn’t make sense but Dre has a Frederick Douglas wig which makes Rainbow happy so it’s all good in the end.