Last week’s episode of The Carmichael Show was supposed to be about the day that Jerrod survived a mass shooting at the mall, NBC chose to pull the episode because of everything that has been going on that week in the world (and is still going on). Our recap of Shoot-up-able is still up, as I believe it was an important episode that should someday be seen. In it’s place, Lesbian Wedding was aired. Below is a recap of that episode, followed by Cynthia’s Birthday, which aired last night and was groundbreaking in it’s own right.
Jerrod’s cousin is getting married and the whole family is going to the wedding, aka this is a chance for everyone to judge the other one’s hotness based on the hotness of their date. When Bobby complains that he has no one to go with, Maxine volunteers her friends from work, who immediately accepts the invite. This makes Joe & Jerrod suspicious of her looks, and when Maxine shows them a photo, they literally call her hideous. The drama escalates when the Carmichaels state that Maxine wouldn’t get it because she’s too attractive, followed by Jerrod waxing poetic about her looks being the most important, her mind and personality being like “finding 100$ in a box of donuts.”
Rightfully, Maxine feels degraded and objectified, so she decides to wear a burlap sac to the wedding and not do her hair and makeup. Everyone at the wedding still finds her beautiful though, and keeps commenting on her appearance. This culminates in her getting fed up and yelling at everyone about being superficial and sharing some of the unsolicited comments she gets on her looks daily.
This episode felt a little confused, it wasn’t clear what Maxine wanted to prove, and whatever that was got resolved and swept under the rug too quickly. With the weirdness of the sexual assault episode, and now this unfocused take on women, society, and superficiality, it seems like the show might need a few more women (& women of colour) in the writers room. #butthatsnoneofmybusiness
When Maxine & Jerrod get Cynthia a book for her birthday, the rest of the family states that “black people don’t read like that.” From there, the discussion goes to the rules that communities make for themselves and wether they do more harm than good. We all have something or things that we don’t do or that we don’t say out loud because we would be judged by our communities. I know that there are unspoken rules within the Iranian community that are different than those in the Asian, Latinx or Black communities.
Cynthia feels safe enough to admit that she doesn’t think Denzel is that good of an actor, Bobby reveals that he was once scared of a group of teenagers, etc. Everyone feels better after making their confessions, and they’re inspired to break another unspoken rule by going to a “white” restaurant for Cynthia’s birthday dinner.
Jerrod texts his old high school buddy whose family owns the restaurant to get a last minute reservation. When they get there, that white-dude has the audacity to greet Jerrod by using the N-word. ~everyone~ is instantly uncomfortable and wants to leave, except Jerrod, who thinks the word needs to be used so much that it gets diluted and no longer carries that racism and hate and pain that it currently does.
The rest of the family does not agree with that take, but they get served warm pretzel rolls and begin to compromise on their beliefs. In the end, Maxine is so worked up that she confronts the rude-white-guy and exclaims “WE ARE NOT N-WORDS” except she actually says the word. The family leaves/gets thrown out and they head back to their usual spot in the end.
The incredible relevance of this episode comes from the fact that the word is said half a dozen times, by different characters in different ways for different reasons, the first time ever on network TV. The audience experiences the tonalities of the word and the meanings of the word and the way the pronunciation affects the meaning. White people are still not allowed to use the word, and I wish the episode had stressed that further, but hopefully after seeing this, people understand the pain it can cause and the deep roots it has and leave it to the black community.
We don’t see ourselves as a black show. We see ourselves as a family show and a socially relevant show and the fact that this is a black family just is what it is, that’s how we’ve always approached it. –Danielle Sanchez-Witzel to THR