The Carmichael Show isn’t the first television series to involve a plot about Plan B. (The Walking Dead and The L.A. Complex immediately come to mind, though those episodes were, uh, iffy at best.) However, it is the only show I can think of that dedicated an entire episode to having a thorough, informative discussion about the pill — while also clearing up some common misconceptions about it.
The cold open of “Perfect Storm” begins after Jerrod and Maxine have just had sex. They broke the condom, and he amusingly brags about how he wants to celebrate because, as he says, “I feel very strong right now!” Joking aside, Jerrod does all the right things in the situation, both by keeping it light and also telling Maxine that it’s her body and her choice, and reminding her that he will support her no matter what she decides. When Maxine replies that she’s immediately heading to CVS to buy Plan B, Jerrod breathes a heavy sigh of relief and tells her, “You don’t know how happy that makes me.”
It’s great to see a young couple on television who are both on the same page about this stuff. They know that neither of them wants (or can have) a child right now. It’s also great to see them deal with the broken condom by making each other laugh. Most important, their discussion and decision to get the pill are portrayed as casual actions, thus normalizing the idea of not wanting to have a child and rightfully depicting the purchase of the “morning-after pill” as something that people do without shame. There’s no stigma here.
However, things don’t go exactly as planned because of the fierce storm that’s been brewing outside. (Gale force winds!) CVS is closed because of the weather and the roads are too dangerous for the couple to return to their apartment, so instead they make a pit stop at — where else? — Jerrod’s parents’ house. Cynthia, Joe, and Bobby are already holed up in the basement with disaster supplies and all of them — especially Bobby — become suspicious of Jerrod and Maxine’s late-night CVS trip and why they can’t wait to go. Bobby grills the couple, trying to guess what they needed based on what other people run to CVS for (a Cam Newton spotting, or cinnamon-flavored Trident gum). Bobby quickly concludes that they need a pregnancy test.
He’s close, but not entirely accurate. In one of the most laugh-out-loud funny lines of the episode, Maxine eloquently explains, “Jerrod and I had a sexual accident,” and Cynthia immediately goes full-speed ahead into preparing-to-be-a-grandmother mode. As often is the case with The Carmichael Show, “Perfect Storm” gets a lot of mileage out of exploring the generational differences between Jerrod/Maxine and Cynthia/Joe. The second Cynthia thinks Maxine is pregnant, her mind goes straight to wedding planning because there’s no way that her child is going to have a child without being married. She even offers up her “off-white” wedding dress to Maxine, who replies by launching into a rant about how archaic the institution of marriage is, emphasizing the fact that women shouldn’t be seen as property. (Joe’s great response: “If marriage isn’t so great, then what have all these gay people been fighting for?”)
Throughout this debate, The Carmichael Show makes sure to correct Cynthia when she says that Maxine is having an abortion — one of the most frustrating and ongoing misconceptions about Plan B is that it’s a so-called “abortion pill” — and at one point, Jerrod explicitly says that Plan B isn’t killing a baby. It’s “killing the idea of a baby.” Additionally, through Joe’s adorable ignorance, the show educates viewers about the basics of Plan B — when to take it, how much it costs, etc. — and Joe quickly gets onboard with the pill’s purpose, even hailing it as a “scientific achievement” and stating “something that amazing should cost like, $7,000!” Cynthia remains staunchly against the pill, and when Nekeisha shows up with Plan B for Maxine, she eventually grabs the pills and flush them down the toilet. To make matters worse, Maxine and Jerrod then get into an argument when Jerrod lets it slip that he may never want children. Maxine, on the other hand, knows that she wants children in the future; she’s just not prepared to have a kid now.
This argument continues back at the couple’s apartment. Maxine doesn’t want to wait around and just hope that maybe, one day, Jerrod will change his mind. Jerrod isn’t entirely sure what his stance will be when the time for having kids rolls around, but he does know that he’ll always want to be with Maxine, and that’s enough to keep them going. It’s a great, honest scene that plays out as sincere without being cheesy. It’s also realistic; too many shows would have this be the ultimate dealbreaker, but The Carmichael Show knows that young couples can work through big arguments, and that people may eventually change their minds or find some sort of compromise. Right now, however, those possible futures aren’t enough to worry Jerrod and Maxine. Instead — after Cynthia comes over to apologize for trying to tell Jerrod how he should live his life — Maxine has a nice Plan B-and-mimosa breakfast, effectively setting the conversation aside for now.