I give the Wurgels
and the Sparks
major credit for taking part in a social experiment for all the world to see, but talk about showing your true colors! The real star of the show, of course, is the makeup crew. Wow! To their credit is the fact that lily-white Rose was able to pass for a black teenager in front of a def poetry group — even after telling them her favorite band is The Cranberries
!? Ouch. But Rose’s minor faux pas is nothing compared to Bruno’s misguided notion of what it means to be black. At first I thought he only looked
a bit like Steve Carell
(sans hair), but then he started channeling Michael Scott, Carell’s character from The Office
, and I nearly couldn’t watch. When black Bruno spoke up at the diversity seminar and related his fictional account of how he responded to being called the N word, my jaw hit the floor along with Brian and Renee, who were watching from behind the one-way mirror. He obviously doesn’t think certain racial epithets should hold any more power than the word "potato" — and that’s fine, he’s entitled to his own opinion — but I don’t think he’s doing himself any favors with his new housemates by continuing to use that word so casually.
Now maybe it's the mustache, but white Brian brings to mind a classic SNL sketch starring Eddie Murphy. He didn't party down on a bus when the last black man got off, but he was obviously pleased with the extra attention he received at the shoe store because he was white. Of all the "performances," Brian's is the most convincing. But as he points out, it's easier for him to pass as white because he's had to assimilate his whole life. His son, Nick, is a different story altogether. He doesn't say much and comes across as a typical ambivalent teenager regardless of which skin color he's sporting that day. Carmen looks great as a black woman, and she'll do all right if she can avoid putting her foot in her mouth. (Spoiler hint: Just wait till the next episode.) Rose seems the most grounded of the group. She doesn't have any baggage or a chip on her shoulder, and for the most part she looks as comfortable in her black skin as her white — too bad we can't say the same about her parents. "My mom and Bruno don’t really spend a lot of time with black people, so I think I’m a little nervous that they might say the wrong thing." Hah! Just wait. — Dan Roberts