Major spoilers for the May 1 episode of black-ish. Picking up where black-ish left off in its last episode, the spark between Dre & Bow just isn’t there anymore — literally, the color goes out of the Johnsons’ usually vibrant house after the kids leave home. But while things are awkward between the couple now, their memories are still there, reminding them how strong their relationship was in the past. Remembering this happy, in-love couple from years past makes it even more painful when Dre and Bow decide to separate on black-ish. The show made a seemingly impossible choice, and right now, fans are distraught.
black-ish is old hat at handling tough topics, but after two episodes in this storyline, there’s still no light at the end of the tunnel. And it seems on Twitter that the show’s loyal audience can’t decide whether they love how seriously black-ish is taking the couple’s downward swing, or whether they can’t bear another heartbreaking half-hour.
The last few episodes have swapped Bow and Dre’s usually witty barbs for some truly hurtful comments. And it’s disorienting for long-time fans. If the show wasn’t so committed to the tonal shift, it might not work as well as it does. (As painful as it is.) Judging from their tweets, the audience wasn’t expecting to be so moved by the potential breakup of these two characters, even as they angrily (in gif form) protested the lack of laughs in this most recent episode.
Those who can’t take it anymore may want to skip the final two episodes of the season, because this story is far from over. The Johnsons can’t go much longer without telling their kids what’s going on, and that is going to be completely devastating to anyone who’s a fan of this show. If "Fifty-Three Percent" and "Blue Valentine" didn’t leave you in tears, the scene where Junior, Diane, Jack, and even baby DeVante hear about the struggles their parents are going through almost certainly will — and fans are dreading it. The emotional rollercoaster left audiences so shook, there were even comparisons to the most traumatizing series on TV, This Is Us, and the queen of killing off characters: Shonda Rhimes.
Here’s another revelation that blew the audience’s mind: the central kitchen remodel, which helps mark the time that passes as Bow and Dre continue to grow apart, is a metaphor for the relationship issues they’re having right now. The two squabble over the details, break down all of their memories, and leave their home with a big mess in the center. And ultimately, even though there are compromises (note: Dre got the sink he was looking for), Bow is the one who makes the episode’s big final decision.
Bow and Dre might be fantastic parents, still able to easily fake happiness when it comes to making breakfast or getting the kids off to school. But as successful as they are when it comes to taking care of their kids, it’s not enough to justify staying in a relationship that clearly isn’t fulfilling either of them. It might seem selfish for them to choose to separate when it will destabilize the one thing that is working about the family, but it actually might give them the chance to salvage their marriage. And the fans appreciate how real the show is getting about how a rough patch really feels.
But ultimately, even the most appreciative fans want one thing: for Dre and Bow to work it out by the end of black-ish Season 4. Leaving the fans with a whole summer hiatus of wondering whether the Johnsons are going to get back together seems too cruel to imagine.
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