Tuesday, November 13, 2018

REVIEW: 'Black-ish' - The Johnson Family Explains Why Everyone Should Appreciate the Legacy of Prince in 'Purple Rain'

ABC's Black-ish - Episode 5.04 "Purple Rain"

The family is shocked to learn that Jack and Diane are not familiar with the iconic music of Prince. One by one, each member of the family works to explain Prince's tremendous impact on their lives through his music.

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.

"Purple Rain" was written by Peter Saji and directed by Charles Stone

It is always a huge accomplishment when a show hits the 100th episode milestone. It proves that the series is a success with viewers and is designed to go the distance. This can also be a time for the creative team to reflect on what allowed the show to make it to 100 episodes. Black-ish chooses to spend this landmark episode not by focusing on some aspect of the Johnsons' lives that has been very apparent over the course of the entire series. Instead, it chooses to honor the legacy of a musical icon. This is such a simple episode in its design. The entire family is trying to teach the importance of Prince to Jack and Diane. The twins don't know anything about the musician. That's insane to the family. It's something that they need to rectify right away. But it also highlights what this show has always done best. It is acutely aware of the conversations happening amongst real families at the moment. Prince inspired an entire generation in so many ways. But it's also up to the world to keep his legacy and memory alive by inspiring others to recognize the contributions he made to the world at large through his music. Sure, Dre can just yell at his children until they just listen to the songs and smile along. But it's much more meaningful when each member of this family can articulate how Prince inspired them in some aspect of their lives while also allowing them to perform some of his songs in an epic homage. It allows the show to be both funny and heartfelt. Sure, viewers of Grown-ish can question just how politically active Zoey is given that she is always called out by her friends for not doing enough to make a difference in the world. And yet, it's still empowering to remember how Prince used his voice and musicality to make a statement to those listening. He wasn't just trying to craft a song that would be at the top of the charts for the longest time. He didn't aspire to have people just mindlessly dancing along. He still inspired that. The family is able to just jam out to a good song by their favorite artist anywhere in the house. It's important to them that Jack and Diane also form this connection to the legacy of Prince. It's slightly odd that they just expect it to happen by sitting them down and having a serious discussion with them. It's not because of anything they say that Jack and Diane change their minds. Diane is reading about Prince online while her family is trying to get her to appreciate him. It's through that that she realizes how dark and moody some of his music could be. That perfectly sets up her "Purple Rain" performance. Meanwhile, it takes longer for Jack to understand it. That has to be perfectly fine as well. One person can't force another to see the world in the same way. Dre and Bow feel a responsibility to teach their children about the legend of Prince. But it's also so inspired that Jack understands the hype in the moment when he least expects it. That too proves that this music comes along in the precise moment when a person needs it the most. Dre and Bow used it to feel confident in acting on their attraction to each other. And now, Jack uses it to feel more confident when he has a girl over for the first time. It's all played as such an appreciation amongst this family that extends through the generations. It's an honest discussion that addresses everyone's different perspectives while still all coming together in the end to honor a man who changed the world with what he did through music.