The Carmichael Show – Low Expectations
By: Jessica Wolff
Bobby Carmichael (LilRel Howery) sits on a hospital bed with Nekeisha (Tiffany Haddish) at his bedside as Cynthia Carmichael (Loretta Devine) and Joe Carmichael (David Alan Grier) rush in. Joe asks how he electrocuted himself and Cynthia asks if he put a grill at the edge of the bathtub again. Bobby tells them that he was electrocuted at work while he was rewiring the lights of the lobby. Joe reminds him that he’s not an electrician and that his only jobs are to look for mold and evict prostitutes.
Jerrod Carmichael (Jerrod Carmichael) and Maxine (Amber Stevens West) come in and ask him to confirm if he tried to cook burgers in the bathtub again for his bet with Maxine. Bobby is annoyed that nobody is giving him any credit and Maxine tells him that her giving him credit won the bet. He expresses frustration with his job and doesn’t believe that he’s cut out to be fixing things. Nekeisha remarks that the accident showed how scared she was of the police, since she didn’t call them for the first seven minutes that Bobby was unconscious.
Cynthia tries to hug Bobby, but Joe insists that they need to make sure all of the electricity is out first. He touches Bobby and pretends to be shocked, making everyone except Bobby laugh. Bobby tells them that the experience made him realize that his life so far been worthless. Nekeisha reports that her Facebook post about Bobby’s accident was misinterpreted as a suicide attempt. Bobby grabs the phone from her and Jerrod remarks that a memorial fund was set up in his name. However, Bobby looks at the comments, which are mostly supportive with one saying that the signs were all there.
Dr. Hunt (Abraham Amkpa) comes in to check on Bobby and Cynthia asks if this is going to affect his ability to have kids, remarking that she wants grandkids. He tells Bobby that he’s going to be fine and Bobby recognizes him as someone from high school. Bobby asks him how he’s old enough to be a doctor and Dr. Hunt explains the rigorous schooling he went through to be practicing medicine for the last five years. On his way out, Joe remarks how great it is to see a young black doctor and hopes that he drives a Tesla. Bobby admits that seeing Dr. Hunt makes him feel like a loser and declares that he’s going to college. Joe laughs at him, assuming that Bobby is joking.
As they arrive home, Bobby is angry with them for laughing when he opened up to them. Joe asks how he was supposed to know that Bobby was serious and Bobby tells him that he is serious. Everyone except Maxine thinks it’s a bad idea and she declares that Bobby could be the first Carmichael to go to college and asks who wouldn’t support that. Cynthia tells him that he is not built for college and tells him that she’s known since the third grade. Maxine tells Cynthia that she can’t give up on a child in the third grade and Joe tells her that she didn’t read the paper he wrote then.
Nekeisha tells Bobby that she thinks college is a scam and recommends that he join the church of scientology. Jerrod tells him that he should focus on developing his personality, as charisma and charm can get him anything he wants. Maxine tells Jerrod that his personality is not as great as he thinks it is and tells Bobby that he can get experiences that he wouldn’t get elsewhere in college. When asked to elaborate, Maxine explains that Bobby can get an education and connections that can help him later in life. Nekeisha tells her that she can also get those things in prison. Joe comments that college and prison are not that different from each other.
Ignoring Cynthia, Maxine tells Bobby that he can grow as a person in college. Nekeisha remarks that he’ll learn more from YouTube than college and explains that she learned how to make origami and bread as well as how to be a midwife. Cynthia tells Bobby that normally when people go to college, they have a career path in mind and the focus to achieve it and tells him that he is not that guy. Bobby says that he doesn’t want to be a doctor, but he wants a more fulfilling job. Nekeisha announces that she has to go to her fulfilling job at the TSA before leaving the house.
Maxine tells him that college can help him find a fulfilling career and that she has a client that turned his life around when he went back to school and became an electrical engineer. Cynthia reminds her that Bobby was just electrocuted and Joe tells Bobby that he should have a child if he’s worried about being considered a failure. Cynthia tells him that he can adopt a Chinese baby tomorrow and Joe declares that they’re going to be Chinese grandparents. Jerrod tells Bobby not to adopt a Chinese baby, as he’ll feel bad when the child is smarter than him.
Bobby declares that he’s not adopting a child, he just wants a career. He criticizes them for not being supportive and storms off to the kitchen. Maxine tells them how hurtful their words towards Bobby are and tells them that they are hurting his self-esteem. Cynthia tells her that they raised Jerrod the same way and he has more self-esteem than he deserves. Maxine tells them to go and tell Bobby that he can do anything he sets his mind to, but Cynthia responds that he can’t and that the key to raising kids is to keep expectations low. Joe tells Maxine that she can’t fill up Bobby’s head with false hope. Jerrod tells Maxine that the idea that anyone can do anything they want is not realistic. Maxine responds that Bobby feels disempowered and that she will tell him that she believes in him if nobody else will.
In the kitchen, Maxine compliments Bobby and tells him that she believes he can do anything. He thanks Maxine for the support and the rest of the family comes in. Bobby turns away from them and Joe and Cynthia apologize to him, saying that they thought he didn’t believe in himself either. Joe explains that they were trying to have realistic expectations for him, since they didn’t want him to be hurt. Bobby announces that he wants to be a therapist like Maxine. Cynthia is supportive, remarking that he can definitely be a therapist and that she’s proud of him for not aiming too high. She calls him a great listener and that this is preferable to her suggestion that he become a hairdresser. Jerrod asks Maxine how he feels about Bobby doing her job and she unconvincingly says that it’s great.
Jerrod calls Maxine out for being mad about Bobby thinking that he can do her job. She denies it, but then rants that it takes a lot of schooling to do her job and that Bobby’s skills aren’t right to be a therapist. Cynthia and Joe burst in and complain that Bobby has asked them to cosign a student loan. Maxine is in shock and Cynthia tells her that the bank doesn’t seem to believe in Bobby as much as she does. Jerrod asks them what they said to him and Joe tells him that they snuck out of the house to avoid him.
Jerrod tells them that Maxine doesn’t believe that Bobby is smart enough to be a therapist either and Joe gets mad at her for encouraging him. Maxine declares that she didn’t say that and says that you can’t rank intelligence. Jerrod tells Maxine that in the room the ranking goes him, Maxine, Cynthia and then Joe. Joe and Cynthia respond with their own ranking, each putting Maxine at the bottom. Maxine says that she doesn’t like ranking, but that she shouldn’t be at the bottom.
Nekeisha comes in and tells Joe and Cynthia that Bobby quit his job and they will be moving in with them. Cynthia tells Joe that Bobby can’t move in with them. Joe tells Nekeisha that they need to move in with Jerrod and Maxine since Maxine started all of this. Jerrod yells at Maxine for destroying their family by believing in Bobby. After being yelled at some more, Maxine tells them that she will go crush Bobby’s dreams and everyone is relieved.
Maxine goes to the kitchen to find Bobby working on his applications. Bobby tells her that he put her as his biggest inspiration. Reluctantly, Maxine tells Bobby that they need to talk and tells him that she chose being a therapist over other careers that weren’t right for her. She explains that she doesn’t think he is able to be a therapist and that the work and stress that will go into becoming one. Bobby is crushed and comments that he never thought that she would be one to tell him that he can’t do something.
He tells her that he felt like it was them against the rest of the family since nobody took them seriously. Maxine admits that she’s never thought about it like that and Bobby tells her that he thought that he found someone just like him when he first met her. He explains that they are able to deal with their emotions and that people like Jerrod lean on them because they can’t deal with their own. Maxine comments how insightful his analysis is and compliments his emotional intelligence.
Maxine tells Bobby to forget what she just said and brings him to the living room. She declares to the rest of the family that she intends to support Bobby’s dream of being a therapist. She calls them out for thinking of her job as a joke and tells them that she puts her heart and soul into her job. She makes an impassioned speech about the things her clients go through and that helping them is worth the emotional struggle she goes through. Bobby remarks that her job sounds horrible and that he’d rather be electrocuted any day. He apologizes for wasting everyone’s time and Joe and Cynthia celebrate.
Bobby cuts an Older Man’s (Duane R. Shepard, Sr.) hair and comments that he only has a few more hours until he gets his license. The man tells Bobby that he’s found his calling and asks if he can confide in him. Bobby tells him that he can and the man confesses that he’s gay. Bobby tells him to love himself and to not apologize for who he really is. The man tells him that he’s good at his job and then tells Bobby not to tell his wife about it or he’ll kill him.