I must admit, when it dawned on me that ABC’s Blackish was about to tackle the issue of religion on Wednesday night’s episode, fresh off of dealing with guns, the Tuskegee experiment, and generalized racism, part of me cried on the inside.
However, I’m happy to report that my internal sadness was quite out of order. Blackish actually did a great job dealing with not only racial differences between whites and blacks, and the different kinds of churches they attend, but also just the drama and guilt that surrounds normal people and prevents them from getting to church on Sunday.
I wasn’t sure this episode, titled “Churched,” was going to end well at first based on how this opening clip began:
Friend: I know we haven’t known each other that long, but why don't you all come with us to church next Sunday?
Dre: Church? The reason I'm pausing here is because for black folks, church is a big deal. For centuries, it's been the backbone of our community, dating back to when we first got here. Some even say the term "Sunday best" came from slaves having one good outfit their owners bought them for church, which to be fair, we kind of ran with -- and ran... And ran... And ran. Churches were not only the core of the civil rights movement, but also the one place you knew your mama couldn't beat you. Growing up, it's how we spent our Sundays.
Close to going over the deep end of racial divisiveness, but pulled back at the last minute with a playful reference to black church-going fashion. Also, a nice reference to the integral role of the church in the civil rights movement.
Good job by you, Blackish.
The Andersons decide to accept the invite of their white friends to attend their Presbyterian church, which they really like until they go the second week and realize that the white hipster-looking church band pretty much only knows one song. This leaves Dre (Anthony Anderson) and Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) in need of a way of telling their white friends that they no longer want to go to white church. And you’ll never guess how they do it:
Bow: So, culturally speaking, we just -- we have, like, a different idea of Sunday church.
Dre: Yeah, culturally speaking, we're looking for something a little more
Bow: -- livelier.
Dre: Livelier. And speaking culturally, your church just isn't the right fit.
Bow: Culturally speaking. I mean, if we're -- we're speaking culturally.
Friend: Oh, my goodness gracious. This is -- this is so embarrassing.
Friend: It really is. We have been so presumptuous. Oh, well. Of course you have your own culturally specific church.
Dre: Who doesn't?
Friend: That we would love to give a try with you next Sunday. If that's okay.
Dre: Oh, my goodness gracious.
Okay, I was kidding. The race card was an easy guess there. But, the race card backfiring on them was at least somewhat unpredictable, right? Especially, since the Anderson’s had no black church of their own.
What’s even better is that after enduring a nearly 5-hour service that even the Anderson’s found intolerable, the white couple shows that two can play the race card game:
Friend: That was... Incredible. Just amazing. But, you know, I was thinking, life is like cargo pants.
Friend: Exactly -- and, you know, sometimes when you change your pants, you leave your keys in your other pants.
Friend: And you just... Stay at your own church.
Bow: Oh, is... Oh, you -- you didn't -- you didn't like our church?
Friend: Culturally speaking, uh, it is a little... Long.
Friend: You know, if we're speaking culturally.
Dre: Well, you're gonna be missed, because next Sunday is "Catch the holy ghost" Sunday.
Friend: Oh, well, that does sound really interesting
Bow: -- no! Nope. There's no take-backs at black church.
Friend: Sure. That sounds like a real and established rule.
Dre: Yes. It is. We come every Sunday. We should know. So we -- we know that.
Bow: Okay. Well, we'll, uh, see you at school.
Friend: Which is in just a few hours.
Hilarious. A really funny way of showing there are differences between people and what kind of services they like, and how there’s absolutely nothing wrong with either. There was even a scene later where Bow turns to Dre and confesses that she loved going to church and feeling a part of something bigger than herself.
Awesome. Well done. Now, if only Blackish would have applied this same kind of thinking to their episode on black republicans…