Black-ish (S02E20): “Johnson & Johnson”

Review: This week’s theme? Marriage! With Rhonda and her girlfriend Sharon’s wedding approaching, Dre starts thinking about marriage and the tradition of taking one’s name. When he asks Bow who she thinks will take the other’s name, Dre discovers that Bow never changed hers! Turns out, Bow’s maiden name was already Johnson, and marrying Dre didn’t have any effect on that. 

But Dre sees it differently. Rainbow Johnson just doesn’t have the same ring to it as, well, Rainbow Johnson. And it’s important to him that the whole family has the same name. On top of that, his lovely co-workers – apparently Josh’s surname is Oppenhole! – also make him feel like less of a man for it. But to Bow, keeping her name is just as important, because it’s a part of her identity and she’s a devout feminist. 

Rhonda and Sharon’s impending visit also spurs some other issues for the Johnson family. For Ruby, it’s trying to figure out if lesbians like tuna and what she wants Sharon to call her. She ends up settling for Good Mama RuRu. For the kids, it’s how to stand out at the wedding, whether through flashy outfits – Junior is very determined to make a daring fashion statements for the gay wedding of the year – or a flashy routine as ring bearer (Jack) and flower girl (Diane). 

When Rhonda and Sharon finally arrive with Sharon’s parents, the debate intensifies. Bow makes it clear that her beliefs as a feminist are very important to her. But Ruby offers a different perspective; namely, that of White feminism and Black feminism being different things. While keeping one’s name was in line with the white feminists who’ve paved the way, like Alice Paul and Gloria Steinem, black women in the 50’s and 60’s couldn’t afford to burn their bras, as they had to make a choice between fighting for women’s rights or civil rights. And to Ruby, taking her husband’s name gave her a sense of pride, as in the past it was unlikely for a black girl to become a Mrs. And the girls also chime in: if taking one’s husband’s name is so important, does that mean Dre wants Diane and Zoey to stop being Johnson’s when they get married? And is it impossible to be as career driven as Rainbow without keeping your name? 

And when Dre manages to convince Rhonda to ask Sharon to take the Johnson name, everyone else gets involved in the discussion, too! The last thing Sharon’s parents want is for her to stop being a Duckworth. I mean, how else are they going to keep playing Duck-Duck-Worth, if she’s no longer a Duckworth? The families decide that the only way to settle this is through a game of ping pong. If only we could achieve world peace that easily. 

Ping pong is a success – for the Duckworths. Dre bruises his hand with his special grip and he’s in so much pain he’s convinced he now knows what childbirth must feel like. Yes, really. But this is the final straw for Rhonda, who feels as though the only thing that really matters is that she’ll be able to call Sharon her wife. Awwww. But, instead of getting married for the time being, they’re all “family-d out”. 

As Jack and Diane show off their routine they had planned for the wedding, Dre and Bow have a heart to heart. Dre apologizes and says that he wanted her to take his name because he was a scrub when they met and it would have shown that she really believed in him. But now, he doesn’t need a name change to know she really believes in him. He fell in love with Rainbow Johnson and why wouldn’t he want to be married to Rainbow Johnson? Bow thinks it’s sweet and, honestly, she doesn’t know if she still needs to be Rainbow Johnson anymore. Confusing. But it makes sense hearing them say it. But Dre has a great solution: how about they just stay the Johnsons?