Black-ish (S02E17): “Any Given Saturday”

Review: This week’s episode is all about Jack! Jack and his gift for basketball and his patented “Jack Attack!”. Being the only one of the Johnson kids not affected by the “Caucasian curse” of Bow’s father, Jack is the only kid out of the four who’s actually good at sports. And because he’s so good at sports, the entire family is at his basketball games on Saturdays to watch him shine. 

Framed as a documentary filmed by Diane – in light of a school project – this week shows us “Paths of Delusion: the Jack Johnson story”. Every member of the Johnson family gets their moment in the spotlight, as Diane interviews everyone about Jack. 

With Dre, Diane asks him when he lost his way. The past few weeks, the whole family has been attending Jack’s school basketball games. And he’s the shining star, scoring three-pointer after three-pointer, prompting Dre and Bow to get Jack on a Travel Ball team (sports tournaments that almost guarantee future stardom). But when Jack doesn’t show the same potential on the Travel Ball team, Dre goes overboard in his stage parenting. 

Dre pushes Jack harder, waking him at 5 am to practice, awaking his killer instinct. Aaaand it backfires. When Dre manages to convince the coach to let Jack play, it doesn’t take long for Jack himself to request a substitute.

Bow? She’s just as excited about Jack’s initial success. The perks of being Jack’s mom involve not having to be the snacks mom and not being the one who brings snacks is a good, good life. Until she becomes the snacks mom… At the Travel Ball games, the “Jack” of the game is a kid called Adonis Culpepper (played by Yara Shahidi’s little brother!) and his mom is the Bow of Travel Ball. But when it’s Bow’s turn to make snacks, she makes healthy, refreshing gespacchio, a snack to no one but Bow. 

So this is where they both sort of lost their way. They have a heart to heart and Dre expresses that he just wanted Jack to have fun and shine. He also doesn’t want his kid to be a quitter, like he was as a child. But Bow and Ruby – who actually agree on something for once – make him realize that he should stop thinking of what he wants, and start thinking of Jack. And, as it turns out, what Jack wants, is to keep trying. 

Junior sees other options for stardom. Namely, a career as a referee. He’s the referee at Jack’s games, hyper-focused on the rules of the game, to Dre’s annoyance. Junior also seems to lose his way a bit, obsessed with becoming the best referee he can be. In theory, this is a great idea. In practice… Not so much. Like Jack, Junior also doesn’t shine at the Travel Ball games. And also like Jack, quitting is not an option, though Dre wishes he would. 

Finally, Zoey is dating a guy named Derrick, and attending Jack’s games is the last thing she wants to do. Until she meets a 19-year-old at one of the games who’s way way way better than Derrick. But Derrick has Kendrick Lamar tickets, so back to Derek it is!