Last night’s very special episode of Black-ish, titled “Richard Youngsta,” featured domestic abuser and admitted stalker Chris Brown as its titular character, a young hip-hop artist who turns to Andre’s (Anthony Anderson) PR firm to help him produce an ad campaign for champagne.
Initially, Andre sees his collaboration as a huge money opportunity for his business, but when he shows an early cut of their commercial to his wife Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) and mother Ruby (Jenifer Lewis), they’re appalled to see the racially problematic themes the ad’s gone with. For example, as Brown’s character pours champagne on a black woman who’s not interested in his sexual advances, she’s magically transformed into a white woman who gladly dances with him.
Given the number of high profile run-ins with law enforcement Brown has had for allegedly assaulting and terrorizing previous girlfriends Rihanna and Karrueche Tran (who was recently forced to take out a restraining order against Brown), ABC’s decision to cast Brown was almost immediately met with confusion and anger from fans.
Despite the fact that the episode was ostensibly about the impact that role models like Rich Yungsta and Chris Brown can have on their fanbases, it’s tough to understand why Black-ish shied away from addressing the obvious, spouse-beating elephant in the room. Not only was Brown’s performance forgettable, but the plot line itself takes away from from Black-ish’s (short) history of using its highly visible profile on network television to speak truth to power regarding issues important to the black community.
If there’s anything to take away from “Richard Youngsta,” though, it’s this: Chris Brown has had more than enough chances to get his act together and yet he continues to act like an asshole. It’s time to leave him behind.