Remember those psuedo-inspirational ads that so many businesses put out at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic? And how suddenly, every company you’d ever patronized wanted you to know that they were with you, and we’d all get through this together?
At the start of black-ish‘s Season 7 premiere, Dre considers himself an essential worker because he’s trying to create a commercial like that: one that gives people hope (while also maybe selling them mayonnaise). His self-declared essential status doesn’t go over well with the actual essential worker in the house: Dr. Rainbow Johnson.
As Dre informs us at the top of the premiere, Bow has worked long hours at the hospital since the pandemic began. And Junior is her most vocal supporter. “It doesn’t have to be seven o’clock for me to applaud you,” the eldest Johnson child says, banging a pot in the kitchen, and Bow kinda digs the attention.
But at work, she and her fellow caregivers are tired, burned out and under immense strain. And the public support, often in the support of meals sent to the hospital, is nice. But even free pizza gets old after a while, Bow and her co-workers (played by ER‘s Parminder Nagra and Scrubs‘ Judy Reyes!) kvetch as they eat lunch outside.
As the women talk, Bow brags that Junior is really taking his pandemic responsibilities to heart. Of course, that’s the exact moment when her doorbell camera catches Junior’s girlfriend, Olivia, visiting the house despite the fact that the Johnson family’s quarantine protocols forbid it.
After lying about it a couple of times, Junior finally admits that he and Olivia missed each other so much, they broke the rules — but he maintains that he’s been super careful in every other aspect of his life. That’s when Bow, who’s bagging her work clothes in the backyard in the hopes of not bringing anything infectious home, blows up. “Having Olivia over here is disrespecting everything that I’m fighting for!” she says, near tears.”I’m really trying to believe that we can get through this, but it is really hard when people won’t do the simple things for the greater good.” Junior sincerely apologizes… then sneaks Olivia, who’s been hiding in the shrubs, back to her car after his mom goes inside.
Meanwhile, Dre screens various inspirational commercials for his parents and kids, with little effect (aside from rousing Ruby and Pop’s ever-simmering libidos). But he gets a last-minute save when Chrissy Teigen tweets a photo with one of his billboards in the background, with the caption, “Despite the desolation, we will rise again.” Or, as Dre interprets it, “I am essential!”
The episode ends with Junior quarantining in his room for two weeks… and losing his mind on Day 3.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the premiere? Grade it via the poll below, then hit the comments to flesh out your thoughts.