Black-ish has gone Purple-ish for its Prince-infused 100th episode airing Tuesday (Nov. 13), but will fans of His Royal Badness give it some Love Symbol?
Titled “Purple Rain,” the half-hour likely mirrors an affront experienced within your own family, upon discovering that the little ones possess neither proper knowledge nor appreciation for the greatest musician to have ever lived. When the young Johnson twins ask, “Who was that lady singing?” while the family is grooving to “Let’s Go Crazy,” parents, grandparents and siblings are appalled and immediately sit the youngins down for a family intervention.
Through vignettes and recreations of Prince’s iconic music videos, all hands are on deck as Dre (Anthony Anderson), Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross), Zoey (Yara Shahidi), Junior (Marcus Scribner), Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) and even Pops (Laurence Fishburne) tag-team to school Jack (Miles Brown) and Diane (Marsai Martin) on the therapeutic nature of Prince’s music.
Outside of these impersonations (including one squeezed into the end by Deon Cole’s Charlie) the fun gets bogged down whenever a bunch of Prince Wikipedia info is randomly spewed through a character, as if the writers were more interested in ensuring all bullet points were hit, and less concerned with fitting them seamlessly into the dialogue.
Is that enough to dampen the entire episode? Not for this Prince stan. The Prince Estate allowed producers to go crazy with his real songs, and my stomach didn’t turn like it does every time that f*^%#ng Capital One commercial pops up on my TV, knowing Prince would never want his music used to sell anything, much less a f*^%#ng credit card.
Like the show’s Hamilton-inspired “Juneteenth” episode in Season 4, this Prince detour exemplifies the show’s sanitized swagger that has charmed fans and critics alike. (It was a little too sanitized for creator Kenya Barris, who broke north to Netflix earlier this year over creative differences culminating in an anti-Trump episode that ABC refused to air.)
Jack and Diane each take away something different from their Prince 101 crash course…
But it’s Diane who drops the mic on everyone with her vignette, which wasn’t just a lip-sync that nailed Prince’s movements and facial expressions, but also a spot-on guitar-sync solo that alone deserves an Emmy nod.