Tuesday, October 16, 2018

REVIEW: 'Black-ish' - Junior Surprises His Parents with a Decision About His College Future in 'Gap Year'

ABC's Black-ish - Episode 5.01 "Gap Year"

After dropping Junior off at college, Dre and Bow are beside themselves when they find him back at home announcing his decision to take a gap year. Jack and Diane begin to question whether they should still be sharing a room.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of ABC's Black-ish.

"Gap Year" was written by Doug Hall and directed by Gail Lerner

Black-ish gets back to its comedic roots at the start of its fifth season. That's a relief after how dramatic things got at the end of the fourth season. However, the show really doesn't offer an update here about the state of Dre and Bow's marriage. The separation arc really put some extensive problems to the forefront with the expectation that they wouldn't be popping up as much moving forward. There was the suggestion that they would operate as a team who understand and appreciate each other more. It was always expected that they would get back together. And now, they are completely on the same page when it comes to Junior wanting to take a gap year instead of going off to college. This is a fascinating decision. It's one that is remarkably different from how the show dealt with Zoey going off to college. In that case, they actually just spun her off to her own show, Grown-ish - which will be coming back early in 2019. It should be fascinating to see how the two shows continue to keep up with the continuity though considering Zoey should be back at school at this point. Instead, she's with her family here dealing with all of the drama that her brother has created. Of course, she is very supportive of his decision because she knows that he has the freedom to make it now that he is considered to be an adult. Dre and Bow just want to know that he has a plan. They want this year to mean something. They don't want him to only be running away from this great opportunity to continue his education because he's scared. And yet, the show offers a great conversation about how going to college right after high school isn't always the best decision for everyone. Some need the time to have more experiences and understand who they are in the world. When Zoey graduated, she knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to go to college to study fashion. She is achieving that on Grown-ish. With Junior, the series hasn't set up his ambitions for his life. He did well in high school. He got to deliver a speech at his graduation. He was hopeful that speech could get his parents to reunite. And now, they are united in telling him that his decision scares them because of the potential it has to ruin his life. It's nice to see the script flipped at Dre's workplace with Stevens telling Dre how things connect back to slavery and how Junior taking time off could disrupt everything that Dre built for him. That shows that Stevens has been learning things over the years even though he hopes that not everything can be explained because of slavery. His bafflement at that is still largely the same. But at the end of the day, this is Junior's decision to make. Right now, he has no plan. He is going to continue to live at the Johnson family home though. Of course, that too comes with a change with Diane getting her own room. Junior and Jack will now be sharing one. That's mostly just good for a solid punchline at the end of the premiere. However, it should be fascinating to see how these different dynamics will change because of the switch-up. It has the potential to shake up everyone's lives in ways they weren't expecting.