The lovebirds move from the comfort of their own couch to playing Restless Leg Syndrome footsie under the table at the group’s weekly potluck -- then to walking along the very public East River. Things have escalated quickly, and I'm having a hard time believing Mercedes and Sam as a couple so suddenly. I have no idea how Sam goes from throwing coins into the river, to giving a fur lecture, to Mercedes throwing her coat in the river, to Sam reacting, "See, we’re perfect for each other!" What, WHAT, what is happening? I think it’s a tribute to Amber Riley and Chord Overstreet’s commitment that I look back on this scene and think it was kind of cute -- but it might just be sheer confusion.
Sam gives Mercedes his jacket, so naturally she tells him to take his thin shirt and leave so she can be on her own and sing "Natural Woman" in front of a carousel. Oh, yes ma’am, I will take Mercedes singing Aretha Franklin anyway you give it to me. I loved the Cheerio-esque backup dancers and the alternate universe that took over once the carousel started spinning. I will, however, need more than some cute jokey-jokes to be convinced that Sam makes Mercedes feel like a natural woman. A-
It turns out those backups dancers are, in fact, characters -- they’re Mercedes’ backup singers, there to serve up an unwanted dose of reality. Her worlds come crashing together when she meets them for dinner and Sam shows up unannounced asking why hip-hop artists are always named after cars (Tesla is named after the inventor Nikola Tesla, thank you very much, and Sharice is named...Sharice). He also asks if the ladies' hair is real hair or a weave. Oh boy. Things do not seem to be going well -- but when the girls recap the dinner later on their stoop (New York!), they say Sam was perfectly nice. He found a toe hold for his Tempestt Bledsoe impression to round out the Cosby kids, and we can all agree that's very impressive.
It’s just that…he’s white. And that’s not a good look for a black female recording artist, or so they tell me. Tesla and Sharice say that Mercedes publicly dating Sam will alienate black women and anger black men who would buy her record. And that’s about all they say. It’s a prejudice that would certainly be worth exploring, especially if Mercedes is really about to put out a popular album (and/or really date Sam), but it’s moved past in favor of Mercedes accepting this as fact. She breaks up with Sam and tells him that dating him would make a statement she’s not sure she’s willing to make right now.
NEXT: Interracial dating down, hate crimes and following your dreams to go...