“Mother Nature” | Black-ish
Once again fall TV continues to be extraordinary with Outlander hitting us all right in the feels, Madam Secretary debuting its fourth season with an amazing premiere, Chesapeake Shores ending its second season in the loveliest way, This is Us with another emotional episode, Brooklyn Nine-Nine tackling vital issues while remaining hysterical, The Mayor continuing to be a real treat, Riverdale premiering with an epic episode, and Superstore once again being the absolute best. On Once Upon A Time we said our final goodbye to Emma Swan as we watched her get her happy ending with Killian and their new baby. But Black-ish took me by surprise when it tackled postpartum beautifully with an exquisitely powerful episode filled with inimitable performances.
Black-ish is the remarkable comedy that’s never afraid of pushing boundaries and addressing vital topics while balancing the darkness with humor. And “Mother Nature” was no exception to that because when I turned on the episode this week, I was not expecting to be resorted into tears. I haven’t seen postpartum properly addressed on television until this moment, and it’s an issue we need to get across because the media has tirelessly projected it as dangerous. You hear the words postpartum and automatically assume the mother hates her baby and wants to hurt him/her. But that’s far from the case and telling it how it is needs to be done.
“Mother Nature” gave us a glimpse into postpartum with an evocative episode that showed Bow battling anxiety, depression, and confusion. The declaration that she’s a doctor and would know if she’s going through something was brilliant, for it revealed the fact that even those who are constantly helping others could fall. And the choice to get a second opinion showcased bravery remarkably. But perhaps what I found to be most intriguing was Bow finally confronting Ruby for that meant that she could finally address some of the demons that are buried deep within her. Tracee Ellis Ross and Jenifer Lewis were superlative as scene partners as Ruby finally heard what Bow had to say, which later resulted in an actual, heartfelt apology.
None of this was easy for Bow, it’s clear from the very first moment you see her rage when the baby sleeps after formula — Bow wants to bond with her kids, she’s done so four times in the past, and because she’s now unable to, it’s hitting her harder than anything ever would have. And that’s what makes this episode so vital, women are so different, so complex that our bodies cannot be compared to anyone’s. Or rather even our past selves. “Mother Nature” teaches viewers that it’s okay, all of these emotions matter, they’re vital, and they’re things we need to be aware of. At no point are they irrational, and I appreciated Dre being there every step of the way to remind his wife that he’s on her side. Their marriage has always been extraordinary, but choosing her side in all this, especially when his mother’s involved was perfect. Husband goals, to be honest. That scene when he hugged her in the kitchen as she sobbed flat-out broke me.
Episodes like this are hard to write about it because they feel so real, you have a hard time accepting that it’s fiction. So many women go through this daily and it’s scary, it’s heartbreaking. And because fiction based on reality feels so real, it’s indication of the fact that writers, directors, and actors have done an exemplary job. I’m floored by Tracee Ellis Ross’ performance of Bow’s fall — we’ve already known how gifted she was an actress, but Ross was on fire this week. The tangible sadness in her expression, the physicality, and the emotional outbursts were never once overdone. Truly an organic, impeccable performance. There was immeasurable strength and bravery in this episode’s means of storytelling — these are the topics we need to talk about more. In light of dark times, it’s episodes like this that serve as reminder of the fact that there are always people who’ll listen, people who’ll care, and people who’ll understand. The choice to spread this kind of awareness after her own battles was genius, incredibly brave of writer and executive producer Corey Nickerson for sharing.