Black. White.

Season 1 Episode 2

Episode 2

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Mar 15, 2006 on FX

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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out of 10
17 votes
  • When white and black get together, some uncomfortable moments are produced.

    This show wasn\\\'t quite as interesting as the initial show. Mostly it consisted of the black family being extremely sensitive to anything the white parents said or did. On the one hand, it seems like the black family wants honesty from the white family, but then when they get even a hint of honesty they (or specifically the wife) begins chastising them. The chastise ratio of Sparks family to Wurgel family is about 10 to 1... make that 10 to zero - I haven\\\'t heard the white family chastise the black family yet.

    During one uncomfortable moment in the home, the black poets come over and meet the white daughter for the first time without her makeup. One poet gets out of hand and basically says he wants to do her. I don\\\'t care what color your skin is, you just don\\\'t say that to a 17 year old girl and you don\\\'t say that in front of a mother and father. If it was a white boy who said that, he would have had his ass kicked. The Wurgels, trying desperately to be politically correct, say nothing. In fact the mom stands up in the middle of the living room and babbles something about beutiful people and powerful black physiques - she was obviously rattled by what the black poet said to her (very young) daughter, but her confused reaction was because of the usual fear of not obeying the PC dictates. Overall it was a pretty sad episode.
  • Ignorant, clueless, close-minded people plus manipulated footage does not a good documentary series make.

    Ignorant, clueless, close-minded people plus manipulated footage does not a good documentary series make.

    The premise of this show is simple: Take two families, a white one from Santa Monica, Calif., and a black one from Atlanta, Georgia, and have them live together in a house.

    This six-part series Black.White, could provide an important step toward better understanding between the races. But in order to learn, the members of the white and black families need to be open-minded, ready to listen to thoughts they may not like, be patient, and be honest.

    However, I am increasingly convinced the white adults in the series don't have what it takes for this experiment to be more than a variation of MTV's The Real World, or other reality shows. While the white couple says they want to learn what it is like to be black, they instead appear more interested in talking than listening.

    FX has been billing this as "a documentary series", but R.J. Culter, a documentary filmmaker, and the man who developed the show, and rapper Ice Cube, who is an executive producer, have distanced themselves from that label, according to a Los Angeles Times article. The article also includes interviews with owners of businesses in Los Angeles visited during the making of the series. The interviewees say the show seems more interested in finding and exploiting conflict than on reporting what they actually found.

    That must have been the case when the black mother visited Leo's All-Star Sports Bar and Grill and talks to people who do not make racist statements. Those encounters are not included, while the one person with racist comments is.

    The series also shows the black father, Brian, interviewing for a job. Viewers are not told that a job for him had already been secured, prior to the interview. This selective editing, which leaves important contextual details out of the final product, reminds me of Michael Moore, who has been accused of the same tricky moves in his own documentaries in order to better make a point.

    The white mother, Carmen, says she is upset with how the footage was spliced, saying it is not accurately showing what happened. In her case, I wonder if she's just trying to save face.

    After the first episode, I had expressed concern that Bruno, the white father, was acting like a clueless know-it-all who seemed surprised that Brian was upset when Bruno used the n-word. In this episode, Carmen was doing stupid, ignorant things. When called on it, she pleaded ignorance. I think it was more a matter of her being clueless and insensitive. I have not decided which is worse - being ignorant or being clueless.

    A perfect example: the two mothers were working with a dialect coach who was telling them how to speak white or black so they can better pass as an alternate race. Then, seemingly out of left field, Carmen says, "Yo, bitch!"

    The black woman, Renee, looks at her, clearly offended.

    "I really thought that was an affectionate term among black women," Carmen said. Yes, that was really her defense. Renee responds that Carmen is not so stupid that she would think it was an acceptable comment to make.

    The exchange is referred to several more times during the hour-long show and gradually becomes known as "the bitch incident." At one point, Bruno suggests that Renee is "fixated" on the insult.

    The one bright spot for the white family — the one member who seems to be an active listener and learn from this experience — is the daughter, Rose. She is part of an all-black poetry class. She participated in at least one class while in blackface. She also made such a pitiful attempt at rapping that it made me miss Vanilla Ice, who seemed brilliant in comparison.

    Rose agonizes and cries over feeling awful that she is pretending to be black and decides to break the news to the group. They are understandably surprised and disturbed but more subdued in their reaction than I anticipated. Rose invites the group over to the house so they can see what she really looks like. Why they had to go to her house to see this remains unexplained. Either way, it's a big mistake because if they go to her house they'll meet Bruno and Carmen.

    The poets share some of their material and it was wonderful. There are some talented writers among the bunch. Then Carmen ruins the moment. She starts by thanking them for sharing their poetry and telling them they are amazing artists. She says it in a way that suggests the poets were hoping for her approval and should now be pleased that the white woman has said they are good folks.

    Carmen then babbles a bit before making a comment where it sounds like she is objectifying the members, referring to a "powerful black male physique." She also mentions that she has not determined yet whether one young man is gay or straight, as if it is any of her business, let alone appropriate to say in front of the group. When she is done, the poets split. Can you blame them?

    Renee later sums up her reaction to Carmen's speech at the poetry incident: "I was so embarrassed and angry at the same time. There she goes again." And Renee is right.

    Instead of listening, Carmen keeps talking. Instead of learning, she continues to display her ignorance. Carmen seems aware of the problem but acts powerless to change it.

    "They already knew that whites were insensitive and ignorant," Carmen says to Bruno, Renee and the rest of the two families, "and you are coming here to prove that we say stupid things... Sure, I have fulfilled that for you."

    Rose sums up the situation well, pointing out how the two families interpreted events and remarks in such different ways.

    "This is a very, very accurate microcosm of what can happen," Rose said.

    Bruno amends the remark: "What does happen, every day, all over the world."


    So let's change it; let's break the pattern.

    If the Brunos and Carmens of the world can listen and stop making bad assumptions - be it use of the n-word or the b-word or whatever - maybe they can start learning. At this point, the family does not seem to be learning anything except that they are good at showing they know how to make jackasses of themselves on television. And, I have no sympathy for them. They have a chance to learn some valuable lessons and, so far, are blowing it.

    Hopefully, next week's episode will show them being more thoughtful and considerate. Somehow, I doubt it.
  • We learned to crawl before we begin to walk. Change will come with time. This is a step in the right directions, but we must be honest with ourselves.

    Only one member (Rose), seems to get it at this point. I feel she may be the one to walk away with a different view as she is young and open-minded. Racism has existed for generations and will continue. Not only against Blacks but all races, including Whites. This is a step to help open eyes of people to realize, the color of skin is what we allow to make us different.
  • It's a very special episode that I have ever watched in my life.

    I like this episode very much because I believe racism exists in our world and that is what we are dealing with everyday. However, I think the filmmaker chose these two families on purpose. I mean you know those two families, they have different points of view. For instance, the white family used to swear a lot. Swearing seems to be normal for them. On the other hand, the black family were not used to swear that much. As they had different points of view, many arguments started. Let\'s say the b word, if the black woman got used to be playful as the white woman, she wouldn\'t have been mad at the white woman. I guess the filmmaker wanted to make these arugments to attract more and more people to watch this. That\'s what I think.
  • I think the black mom (read to deep into) the white mom saying bit**. When they were in the room with the vocal coach. I didn't have a problem with the white family getting HYPE at Church.

    I really enjoy watching the white girl in the black poety class. She is brave and strong to tell the class she was a white girl in black make up. The white mother is a little off, but the black mother is taking things to literal.I do believe the white father is a little close minded. The white mother was totally wrong about what she throught, the black mother said about the african clothing. The black mother said it was nice but she wouldn't wear it. The white mother throught she said it was nice to wear to church. When both families went to church the black family got upset that the white family with black makeup was enjoying theirself clapping and dancing in church. If they felt the spirit and felt happy. Who cares? I think the black family was acting a little up tight(high class) in church.The white family was acting like every black family I know in church.
  • Tension in the house heats up. Rose admits to her class she is in make up.

    Is it just me or should more than just contstant bickering occur on this show? It seems to me that the series so far is only focusing on the tensions inside the house, instead of what is going on outside the house, which is a lot more interesting. (even the promo for next week!) Its obvious tension would occur in the house. If you put any two families who don't know each other together and force them to live together, I don't think its going to be happy go lucky all the time!

    I really want the show to dig deeper. It has such potential, and is definately ground breaking. When Rose revealed herself it was real. Probably the most real thing so far that has occured because of the make up. But for her to do that in Episode 2? I would think that this sort of thing would be saved for the end of the series.

    I also think that perhaps the adults are too set in their ways and experiences to really benefit from this. It seems the kids are getting so much more from it.