Culture of Pop

‘Black-ish’ Review: Secrets of ‘The Nod’

“You’re yelling at me for Junior getting tomahawked on. You took Diane to the hospital, she saw a tomahawk in somebody’s skull.” -Dre Johnson

Every culture has subtleties that can’t be fully understood without living and breathing the experience. Be it common vernacular or body language, a lot of things can go over the head of unaware parties. In African American culture, one of those subtleties is the nod. Unfortunately, Junior doesn’t know the nod is a thing along with other idiosyncrasies that Dre believes his son should know. The nod is a sign of acknowledgement, “I see you. You see me.” If someone nods and the nod is not reciprocated, it is not a sign of disrespect but one of naiveté.


Dre panics and decides to find Junior some black friends to hang with so he can be in the loop.

Meanwhile, Rainbow tries to convince Diane that being a doctor is cool after realizing that her daughter wants to become a professional in the marketing industry just like her father. Dre’s cool advertising job has an easier educational path, better perks, and requires way less work than becoming a doctor. The problem is that Rainbow was counting on Diane to continue her legacy.

Diane remains steadfast. She has made her decision and that’s that. Rainbow devises a scheme to fix the problem, but ends up traumatizing Diane instead. A third plot involves a new black co-worker at Dre’s job who gets a little too close for comfort in several ways before an eventual blowup.

Black-ish is starting to find a comfort zone that allows it to explore niche cultural references while also being a funny show about a family whose adventures we look forward to each week. Three episodes in, this primetime newcomer can be trusted to bring laughs for each episode. ABC agrees and has ordered a full season pickup of Black-ish after strong ratings from the first three episodes. If you haven’t watched the show yet, give it a shot. Who knows? You might become part of a budding audience.

Black-ish airs on ABC  on Wednesdays at 9:30 Eastern time.

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