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Black-ish - Nothing but Nepotism - Review:"Pizza Nerd"

While last week’s episode was an emotionally charged story about Bow’s lack of identity, this week’s nepotism-based outing doesn’t pack the same powerful punch. The main plot, featuring Bow’s and Dre’s concerns about Zoey and her lack of ambition, got annoying, fast.

The problem is Zoey. She’s been great in the background of episodes this season and had some remarkably mature moments, including not telling her siblings about Pops’s infidelity or recognizing that Jack and Dianne are nervous about growing up. Unfortunately, when the time comes for Zoey to come into the spotlight, she’s still restrained by her major character traits. Zoey is always a little detached from the situation and she isn’t given any room to grow in this episode. She forgets to sign up for a pre-college internship and doesn’t even seem that interested when both Bow and Dre pull strings to fix her problem.

Bow has to trade away her parking spot to a jerk doctor to get Zoey a medical internship and is forced to do all the grunt-work herself when Zoey declines (and actually tears up the acceptance letter). Dre is initially against any kind of nepotism to help Zoey, but changes his tune when he talks with Leslie, Connie, Josh, and Charlie at the office.

Dre realizes that nepotism has allowed a wildly unqualified Connie to become a key fixture of the company. Josh has also used nepotism, although he may have that word confused for incest. Meanwhile, nepotism-free Charlie will never pay off his rented television. He begs Dre not to let them bury him in a potter’s field (forgetting that Dre has already thrown him a lovely funeral) and Dre is disturbed enough by the interaction to snag Zoey a fellowship with Teen Vogue. He expects them to treat her like dirt, just like he was treated during his first job. To Dre, suffering builds character and he doesn’t want his children to miss such an important experience.

The show tells us that Dre is wrong and his outburst when he finds out the truth about Zoey’s fellowship is completely over the line. He marches down to Teen Vogue and demands that they refuse her a promotion she earned. It is horrible and obviously completely embarrassing to Zoey, but the problem with the episode is that the show never shows us why he’s wrong. Zoey’s boss sings her praises, but we don’t actually see her working hard at her job. Maybe the plot would work well on its own, but when it’s compared to Junior’s fight with Pizza Possum or Bow’s horrible day as a hospital intern, it’s difficult to care about Zoey’s struggles when, as she says, everything at the magazine comes easy to her.

Or maybe the true problem with this storyline was just that it wasn’t interesting compared to the other half of the episode. Zoey may be using nepotism to land a cushy magazine positon, but Junior is going to the depths of hell to blow the whistle on his bosses at Pizza Possum.

Even though Junior had the perfect transition into talking about his new job at the animatronic rodent restaurant and playland, Dre and Bow don’t really care. Only Jack and Diane are impressed with Junior’s new power over the center’s rides and games, but they sure are impressed. Both beg him to help them get enough tickets for the lava lamps or something classy like the hamburger phone or brass knuckles. Johan, on the other hand, calls Junior a corporate drone and teams up with Bow to think of the many insulting nicknames “other people” are sure to give him.

Johan is proven right when Junior comes back from his first day of work with a look of horror on his face. Pizza Possum is disgusting.

As Junior tells his uncle, “there are no knives in the kitchen. It’s all hands and teeth.”

First Junior can live with the job because he sees how much joy the restaurant brings Jack and Diane (and Pops in a one-second cameo), but he can’t keep them away from the “spicy and gamey” possum pizza forever and he teams up with Johan to take Pizza Possum down.

Everything about Junior’s and Johan’s ill-advised whistleblowing makes for good television. It is also abundantly clear that while Junior cares about the cause, Johan is in on the caper because he’s bored and knitting parking meter cozies isn’t very intellectually stimulating. When Junior thinks he’s getting stalked by the Pizza Possum Possum-Mascot, Johan agrees to tell his story to the world “only because you’ll be dead and you won’t hold me to it.”

In the end, Junior actually gets through to Pizza Possum HQ and affects real change, but earns Jack’s and Diane’s ire in the process. Diane tells him that the twins knew the whole time. No one thinks a pizza place is actually going to be clean. It’s just a lie society agrees to tell itself to get lava lamps and brass knuckles. Bow also throws a cup at him and calls him pizza nerd, probably relieving stress from having to take over Zoey’s internship.

So, in the end the episode gave viewers one great storyline, and one not-so-great one. I hope that Zoey can get some actual character development in the future, and that Pizza Possum reopens soon.

What were your thoughts on the episode? What do you think about Zoey's character? Let me know in the comments!