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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Black-ish: “Law of Attraction”

Illustration for article titled iBlack-ish/i: “Law of Attraction”
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First things first: Laurence Fishburne is back! Rejoice! I know that he’s busy pulling double duty on Hannibal and that his Black-ish character isn’t the most important (in fact, I love that he never overtakes the episodes but mostly hangs around for quick quips) but his absence has definitely been felt in these last few episodes. So it was great to see him return—and to get an actual, fleshed out storyline!—but it’s a bit bittersweet considering the episode wasn’t great, but just OK.

Still, it’s nice to have Black-ish back after that too-long winter break, even if the episode was a dud in comparison to the hot streak it’s been on. Much of “Law of Attraction” focuses on just that: the various and uncontrollable laws that control how or why we are attracted to someone. In a glorious flashback featuring glorious hair, we learn that Rainbow was first attracted to Andre because of, ugh, a woman’s primal instinct of being attracted to a macho dude. Andre interrupts a skirmish and sticks up for Rainbow, forcing the two (or six, according to him) men to apologize to her. She goes googly-eyed at this display of manliness and the rest is history.


The same sort of goes for Pops and Ruby who have always had a tumultuous but fiery and passionate relationship, constantly breaking up in a spectacular (and sometimes literally fiery) fashion and then getting back together which, understandably, took a toll on Andre during his childhood. They are off-again when the episode begins but then on-again after ending up attending the teens’ play together. When a near-scuffle occurs at the valet, Andre basically backs away instead of sticking up for Rainbow while Pops goes all in and the guy backs down. Ruby is, of course, impressed by this display and finds herself attracted to Pops again.

This old-fashioned “caveman” mentality—that all women can’t help but be attracted to these displays of super manliness, that we all find ourselves immediately tripping over our feet with lust whenever a man fights someone in our honor—is basically the driving point of the episode, the thread that exists within both couples’ storylines (Pops and Ruby, Andre and Rainbow). When it comes to Andre and Rainbow, he’s worried that she’s not as attracted to him because he backed away from the fight. There’s a lot of talk about gender roles and how Rainbow and Andre don’t fall into them—there are scenes when she’s putting up the TV stand and grilling dinner—but instead of sticking to that idea, it results in Rainbow coming to the conclusion that she is a cavewoman.

“Law of Attraction” isn’t a bad episode but it does suffer from falling into a series of typical sitcom gender traps. What I’ve always loved about Rainbow is that she’s been a very independent woman/mother character, one with her own life and one who constantly calls out her husband on his shit (which, to her credit, she does in this episode, too). Based on past episodes, I was really hoping that “Law of Attraction” would find some clever way to subvert this relationship trope and found it a bit disheartening and backwards when it didn’t. True, Rainbow did express some distaste for her own personality in these moments—she mentions that she’s an evolved woman with multiple degrees but there’s still a “primal part of me that really wanted to take this guy out” but by the end, there’s no surprising twist, no new take. Instead, Rainbow finds herself turned on by Andre angrily standing up to his father and Ruby finds herself turned off by Pops being emasculated by his son. They are both cavewoman, and their partners are cavemen, and no one is as evolved as they think. The end, I guess.

Also, let’s be honest, “Law of Attraction” also suffered because of the severe lack of scenes with the children. There was a fun b-story with Junior and Zoey who are both in the school play. Zoey is Juliet and Junior, who is originally an under under understudy/assistant stage manager, gets cast as Romeo. Zoey is not into the potential awkwardness and total weirdness of being paired up with her brother in a romantic play but Junior doesn’t think it’s too strange, especially since he’s caught up in being “such a talented family, like the Gyllenhaals!” Zoey doesn’t end up doing the play but Junior’s got a plan b: He plays both Romeo and Juliet, in the episode’s funniest gag. The twins only sporadically appear in this episode, mostly as a way to show how the on-again/off-again relationship between their grandparents could scar them the way it scarred Andre. But, they end up OK. The entire episode is OK, without much damage done.


Stray observations:

  • “Sometimes boats just blow up.”
  • Another funny bit involved Andre taking Rainbow back to where they met so he could show off his manly prowess by picking a fight with a guy who just wanted to grab some napkins. I loved watching him cower on the ground because of an over-affectionate dog.
  • A+ music cue with “Big Poppa.”
  • “What’s carrot cake without carrots?” “Cake.”
  • I fully support Ruby burning those ugly hats.
  • Seriously, both Andre and Rainbow’s hairstyles in those flashback sequences were on point.
  • Line of the night: “Take me, big rig!”

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