Once again, Black-ish chooses to tackle a topic that frustrates and stresses out millions of Americans every single day of the year: Money. “Everybody wants to have it, but nobody wants to talk about it,” Dre points out. Money may make the world go ‘round, and we may all be consumers, but that doesn’t mean we all understand exactly how to plan out our financial future. What “Keeping Up With the Johnsons” taught us Wednesday night is that Dre really doesn’t know how to plan, and cultural issues apparently are a huge reason.
DRE AND BOW
It’s not that he doesn’t care about making sure his family is secure financially or that he doesn’t want all of his kids to go to college (even if both Dre and Bow don’t actually believe Jack will be going). It’s just that Dre’s all about spending more than the family is saving. “If you didn’t get a paycheck for 400 years, when you did finally get one, you might wanna spend it,” Dre says in the episode’s opening monologue. But as he notes, that kind of attitude nowadays can get you in trouble, which is exactly what happens when Dre and Bow find out just how much money is leaving their pockets (and I do mean pockets because Dre actually keeps wads of cash on him at all times). Things can’t keep going the way they are at the Johnson household, despite Dre’s fantastic FICO credit score (819!) and how well he listens to his money man James Brown’s advice (he has some fascinating ideas about Taco Bell).
Dre doesn’t seem too worried about their money problems at first, but Bow is immediately nervous about where all the expenses are coming from. Looks like all of those expensive sneakers Dre gets overnighted, the organic hair products Bow buys, and the cool G’s Dre lends Pops are really adding up. And Pops’ lectures about money while he borrows some definitely isn’t helping matters either. Bow has always had a difficult relationship with money — her mother’s idea of what money means would make anyone sweat uncontrollably — but Dre isn’t concerned and definitely doesn’t want to take over Bow’s duties as kid wrangler instead of being the money man. Things are fine in his mind…until he talks to his co-workers.
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When Dre pulls out a wad of cash to pay for lunch, the guys lecture him about money management. “Do you think Jay Z walks around with wad of money?” Stevens asks. While Dre and Curtis both say yes, Stevens and Josh tell Dre otherwise. He needs to not only have money in the bank, but also in stocks, investment properties, optimal asset allocation: 10 percent emerging markets, 20 percent hedge funds, 30 percent private equity and charitable donations. Get all that? Well you’re a better human than most of us.
Dre finally realizes it might be time to move past James Brown and at least meet with Stevens’ guy. At first it seems he’s just reassuring Dre about his FICO score and his saving techniques…until he says that they’re heading in the right direction if they want to have kids in the future. Once Dre and Bow correct Stevens’ guy, he tells them point blank: They’re screwed.
So the worst has come. Dre and Bow are forced to work together to make some deep cuts in their expenses (which means Dre becomes part kid wrangler, his worst nightmare). Things get a little ugly during their tough money discussion, with the conversation somehow turning to Dre’s diet and Bow’s monthly sage cleanses and waxing budget. Dre switches from fashionable kicks to “Kirkland’s finest” while Bow’s organic hair products are traded in for Dollar Store conditioner… And things do not go well.
Bow’s hair becomes a frazzled mess while Dre shocks his co-workers (Curtis in particular) with his new fashion statement. Josh wonders why both Dre and Curtis have never worn the same outfit twice, and Dre explains that he can’t repeat an outfit because black men have to “dress the part to get the part [white men] already have.” Stevens, as per usual, says something offensive, but Dre keeps his Kirkland outfit throughout the day. Of course, when he gets home, he sees Bow taking out the organic hair care and gets ready to pull out his high-and-mighty attitude before Bow shows him the two new pairs of sneakers he had overnighted once again. Things finally snap for Bow, who tells Dre that she trusted him to take care of the money and he broke that trust. But when Bow calls her mother to complain about Dre, she realizes that she has the exact same problem as her mother: She always let Dre take care of the finances because she doesn’t understand it, and talking about it makes her feel stupid. It’s a common issue and one that rightfully needed to be discussed on a series that successfully tackles other important family issues.
NEXT: Dre and Bow work out their money problems. But the kids have their own solutions…