Performer of the Week: black-ish's Anthony Anderson

THE PERFORMER | Anthony Anderson

THE SHOW | black-ish

THE EPISODE | “Lemons” (Jan. 11, 2017)

THE PERFORMANCE | Nine weeks after the election and little more than a week until the inauguration, the fact that Donald Trump is going to be the next president of the United States remains a tough truth for many Americans to absorb. Enter black-ish‘s Anderson, who in Wednesday’s episode of the ABC comedy gave a masterful performance as Dre struggled with both the election results and his friends and family’s reaction to them.

Anderson’s usually jovial portrayal of his character fell away as Dre explained to his colleagues (most of whom are white) that the election struck a familiar, bitter note for many black people, “but they still voted, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. You think I’m not sad that Hillary didn’t win? That I’m not terrified about what Trump’s about to do? I’m used to things not going my way. I’m sorry that you’re not, and it’s blowing your mind.”

The monologue took on more power as Dre’s ire rose, Anderson filling the words with a tired anger and a sense that nothing would ever change. “Excuse me if I get a little offended,” he said, leveling everyone else in the room with a disdainful glance, “because I didn’t see all of this outrage when everything was happening to all of my people since we were stuffed on boats in chains.” That uneasy feeling in your chest? It’s thanks to the realization that there’s no punchline coming to soften the blow. If you watched this episode of black-ish, you’re likely to remember it for a long time — and Anderson’s performance is a major reason why.

unnamed-1HONORABLE MENTION | The Affair‘s Helen broke our hearts when she told Noah that he was “destroying himself and I need you to stop.” Her plea, chock full of irony, was delivered by a teary-eyed Maura Tierney, who gave her most emotionally raw performance to date. In that scene, Helen was incapable of seeing that she was just as self-destructive as Noah. And yet, Tierney, proving she’s in a league of her own, flawlessly captured the moment’s rich complexity and contradiction.

unnamed-2HONORABLE MENTION | As the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. contended with a(nother) very serious threat, Henry Simmons and Natalia Cordova-Buckley kept things light and lively — and marvelously meta. When android-run-amok Aida infiltrated the base, robo-phobes Mack and Elena delivered a comedic one-two punch by doing what any of us would have done in the same situation — question how Radcliffe could not have seen this coming, tinkering with a humanoid toy. (“Has he seen no American movies from the ’80s?”) Indeed, Simmons’ cinephile would effortlessly namecheck a number of such films (“She did not just go all Maximum Overdrive on us”), right up until Mack metaphorically yelled “Cut!” — by lopping Aida’s head off with his handy shotgun-axe, capped with a perfectly timed, “Roll credits.” In this Evil Robot Movie, Simmons and Cordova-Buckley were the true stars.

Which performance knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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46 Comments
  1. Mariana says:

    No Sherlock?

    • Annie Sisk says:

      Why on earth would there be? Just because episode 2 was miles better than episode 1 doesn’t mean it was award-worthy.

      • rowan77 says:

        The Gatiss-written episodes are never as good as the Moffett-written ones.

        • Annie Sisk says:

          This is (sometimes) true (Moffett isn’t always superior, especially when it comes to female characters), but there’s still the question of the overall floor/ceiling effect. There’s been a noticeable drop in quality, even adjusting for the differential.

  2. Cari says:

    No NPH for Count Olaf? He’s great in the series!

    • Mary says:

      Probably because the series was only available starting yesterday. And when they do mention anyone from any web series, they usually focus on one episode at a time, not the whole series at once.

  3. Brooke says:

    The actors and writing on black-ish are a notch above. They knock it out of the park time and time again.

  4. Elena says:

    Benedict Cumberbatch gave a STELLAR performance this week.

  5. kmayne says:

    I watched Black-ish The show knocked it out of the park, It was one of the most powerful episodes of any comedy I have seen in a while

  6. Joey Padron says:

    Happy Henry and Natalia got honorable mention. They’re great together on Agents of Shield.

  7. Tai says:

    I always love black-ish but his monologue in this episode gave me chills. And it also helped me explain how I was feeling since this election. I’ve always been a fan of Anthony Anderson but he surprised even me with this performance. I loved it.

  8. Hollie says:

    I need 1000% more Mack and Elena in my life, those two were just a joy to watch. My only complaint (not even a complaint, really) is the lack of Mallory Janssen on this list as well, because she was believably robotic and unbelievably scary all throughout.

  9. Rebecca says:

    I feel that it is tougher to watch Helen of Affair self destruct than her ex husband. She pushed away a very nice, successful doctor and she isn’t thinking of the welfare of her children, either

  10. liame says:

    1,000 claps.

  11. Marcie says:

    I’m sorry but this “award” seems to be more about the writing than the performance. I saw that episode, enjoyed it, but didn’t come away thinking, “What a great actor he is.”

  12. GregJ. says:

    Of course he deserves this just he should’ve won the Golden Globe. Donald is great, but Anthony has been consistently amazing since season 1.

  13. Ian Fleming says:

    Kudos to Mack for not crassly lumping in the tragic real world events of Sokovia with all of those (on point) robot rampage pop culture references in Agents of SHIELD. Mackelana are the best.

  14. YestoKylie says:

    That post election episode of blackish was gold…I really needed that episode, it was very soothing. The helplessness and anger that most people are feeling rn was accurately captured in 20min of TV. The whole cast was in top form. As moving as Dre’s speech was I must say I was really choked up with Zoey’s lemonade of love scene…not democratic, not republican…just lemonade made of love.

  15. DarkDefender says:

    Anthony Andersons performance is well worth noting this week. The entire episode of blackish should win all the Emmys. That was a stellar hour of scripted television.

  16. omabin says:

    Anthony Anderson deserves this so much. Blackish produced one of the best episodes of any show I have watched latey and one of my favorite episodes of a comedy ever, on par with the mesmerizing Hope episode last year.

    Anthony deserves that Emmy this year, please let him win it. And Blackish should win best comedy really. What a phenomenal show

  17. abbidon says:

    Blackish was EXCELLENT I’m sure everyone who watched walked away with a new perspective on at least one of the topics they touched on. Deserves an Emmy INDEED!

  18. Honest question – what do African Americans want from the rest of America / White people today? Slavery was terrible and can not be justified. However, it was something that happened to and by people that are no longer alive today. I am not saying that we should forget it or that we can not learn lessons from it that are applicable today. However, what is America supposed to do about it today?

    I don’t think that it does anyone any good to think of themselves as a victim (and that they are owed something) and yet that seems to be the message that AA leaders and others want to send to their communities today by constantly bringing up slavery.

    *FYI, while the the vast majority of slaves were black, there were some white slaves and many Africans sold other Africans into slavery, so it wasn’t 100% just white people’s fault. Not trying to start a fight or justify slavery, but rather state a fact

    Bring on the hatred…

    • Edna says:

      The fact that you hop, skipped and jumped right over the Civil Rights Era show how much you need to educate yourself on the lives of people of color in this country. Hint: systemic racism

      • Edna, I am aware of the Civil Rights era the struggles of AA’s and those who supported them and I realize this was only 50-60 years ago. Again, my question is what do AA’s want now or maybe a better way to phrase it is why keep bringing up slavery? I understand that there is racism (and probably always will be to some degree) in this country. I think that is something that all of society needs to work on (people of all races). I guess I’m asking why continuously bring it up and what solutions are there to move forward as united society?

    • Tai says:

      No hatred. Just acceptance of your painful obliviousness to what it means to be black in this country. But to answer your question as to what I from white people, quite simply: nothing. I want nothing from anyone. Anything I get is on my own. I don’t know what answers you thought you were going to get or what you were hoping to achieve, but there’s the answer from one black American. I want nothing from this country or anyone in general.

      • Hey Tai, Here’s the conundrum for me. I’m gay and understand that many minorities (Latinos, Jews, and even Irish people when they first came to America etc.) have faced discrimination. I also understand that being gay is not the same as being a POC as it is being gay can be hidden and obviously being a POC can’t. But my question remains, why do AA’s constantly in today’s society bring up slavery. It was horrible, shouldn’t have happened, shouldn’t be forgotten, etc. but do other minorities do the same with their horrible, painful pasts? As an example, do Jews constantly refer to the much more recent Holocaust? What is the point of bringing it up constantly now and how does that help society move forward in 2017?

        • Love says:

          Who are “these people” who keep bringing up slavery?

          • I understand that you are just parsing my words to try and point out that I’m a racist, however, I will answer your question. I am referring to the TV show, “Black-ish” bringing it up this week and the above article that discusses it. Also, leaders in the AA community, groups like BLM and their supporters, etc. have consistently brought it up since Ferguson.

        • Michelle says:

          Please stop posting such ignorance. Being a white gay doesn’t mean you understand what Black people go through everyday.

          But to answer your question, we want to:

          not be stereotyped
          Not be harassed by cops
          Not be rejected by employers just because our name isn’t Ashley or John
          Not have to constantly stare over our shoulders every time we enter an upscale , or even a regular store
          Not have to worry about young Black kids being body slammed by teachers or cops just because we are Black
          Not be killed by racist cops just be cause we have on a hoodie.
          Etc.

        • Jamie says:

          Why would you compare slavery with the Holocaust? They are apples and oranges. Both were incredibly awful periods in world history, but slavery lasted for hundreds of years. It was so deeply systemic that when it “ended”, it didn’t really end. Former slaves (and their offspring) worked for basically nothing as sharecroppers for white former slavers – they still didn’t get an education or have ways of bettering their lives. And then as time passed, and people found ways to improve their quality of life, they were saddled with Jim Crow laws, hoses and attack dogs from the police, and lynchings by the KKK. You may think that slavery was a long time ago, so people should get over it, but it was just the beginning of a very long and continuous struggle that black Americans have gone through over the past few centuries. It wasn’t an isolated event that we don’t want to think about – most of our ancestors in this country were slaves, and those that weren’t were most definitely still affected by it. It’s insanely naive to think that we should just ignore that. If a white person gets to talk about how their great great grandfather came to the US from Italy and how hard it was for him to find a job, then why can’t I talk about how my great great grandmother taught herself how to read at night while she was enslaved, even though she was being beaten and treated like she was less than human?

        • abbidon says:

          No im not trying to say you’re racist I’m seriously wondering where you are seeing all these slavery stories. People are talking about injustice or disappointment but you only hear slavery I guess. Anyways, if you really want to have an understanding I’d suggest you watch 13th on Netflix as well.

    • GregJ. says:

      People of color, because not just African Americans were enslaved, still suffer today i.e. being systematically oppressed. What you fail to notice is that we don’t talk about being slaves and wanting reparations, we just want to be respected and seen as equals. I am a college educated black man and in some people’s eyes I would just be seen as just an angry black man. I think you should go and watch the “Lemons” and listen to what Anthony Anderson has to say about this country and also watch the episode “Hope” from last season when he was talking about president Obamas first inauguration. You may have a better understanding than.

    • Ange says:

      When I as a black person am afforded the same opportunities because I deserve them and work just as hard as the majority if not harder without the consideration that I am black and might come from a non-priviledged background then those conversations can stop.

    • Charles says:

      The stain of slavery, built up over some 400 years, will take so much longer than the 150 or so odd years since the ratification of the 13th Amendment. That said, minorities in general and African Americans in particular, in 2017, are decrying social inequality and inequity. The question is not, what are we to do about slavery today, because that question is not being asked. The real question is what are we to do about the persistently pervasive and insidiously institutionalized systemic racism and social injustices occurring today?

  19. kirads09 says:

    Well, I know TV Line does not seem to have any love for Emerald City. But I would like to put in an honorable mention for Jordan Loughran. She brought a lot of depth for such a young one to portray Tip going through the identity crisis of the millennium. Her performance in this weeks episode was powerful and I was impressed.

    • TV Gord says:

      I was all ready to like Emerald City, but it was too predictable and same-ol’-same-ol’ for me. A dark twist on a childhood classic. Been there, done that. What’s next?

  20. MTB says:

    Get over it people. Trump won. These idiots have no idea what Trump will do and they are bashing him. obama ruined the country but they can’t see that because the only reason they voted for him was because of his color. He was THE WORST President ever. PERIOD!!!

    • Jamie says:

      Can you please bring facts into your baseless accusations about Obama. How did he ruin the country? Any time I ask for facts from Trump supporters, y’all seem to run away, but hopefully you will answer. Why was he the worst president ever? The 75+ straight months of jobs growth under his administration? Was it the steady GDP growth? The fact that the percentage of unemployed Americans is currently at its lowest since before the market crash in 2008? I’ll wait…

  21. Pat says:

    I saw that episode of Blackish and boy was it ever, powerful. Anthony Anderson’s performance was outstanding and really hit the nail on the head.