The Carmichael Show – Morris
By: Jessica Wolff
At a Hibachi restaurant, Jerrod Carmichael (Jerrod Carmichael) remarks to Maxine (Amber Stevens West) that the atmosphere is a horrible place to have a conversation and questions why Bobby Carmichael (LilRel Howery) asked them to meet him there. Jerrod believes that this restaurant is where you bring your family when you run out of things to talk about and Maxine says that she feels pressure to clap for everything the chef does. Jerrod jokes that this is the one restaurant you can be rude at since they can’t spit in the food in front of you. The table starts clapping and Maxine tells Jerrod that if she had to pretend to be impressed every time someone did something, she’d have a child.
Bobby arrives and thanks them for meeting him. He tells them that he has news that will blow their minds. He begins to explain that he got a message on Facebook, but the table clapping for the chef interrupts his story. Bobby orders Maxine to clap, as she is embarrassing them. He continues his story that a man named Morris messaged him, claiming to be Joe Carmichael’s (David Alan Grier) son and his half-brother. Bobby wants to message him back to investigate his claim, but Jerrod tells him not to. When Bobby assures him that he’ll get to the bottom of it, Jerrod tells him that Morris is their half brother. Bobby is in disbelief by the revelation and orders the table to stop clapping.
Bobby has trouble processing the information and asks Jerrod how long he’s known about their half brother. Jerrod confesses that he’s known since he was ten. Maxine has so many questions for him and gets frustrated at how difficult it is to have a conversation here as the chef does another of his tricks. Maxine and Bobby ask Jerrod how he found out and Jerrod explains that he saw his father playing basketball with a kid that he didn’t recognize. When he confronted him, Joe told him the truth. Maxine comments that he was probably devastated, but Jerrod was more relieved that his dad wasn’t a pedophile. Maxine asks if Cynthia Carmichael (Loretta Devine) knows about Morris and Jerrod tells them that she doesn’t know. Maxine asks if Joe cheated on her and Jerrod explains that the kid was born a year before Joe married Cynthia and that he’s been keeping it a secret during their entire marriage.
Maxine can’t believe that Joe has been keeping such a big secret, but Jerrod argues that sometimes a secret should be kept a secret to maintain the illusion. Maxine can’t believe that Jerrod is defending his father, and Bobby reminds her that he’s been in cahoots with him for years. However, Maxine can’t believe that Jerrod’s defending lying, as his family is so brutally honest that she sometimes pretends to be sick to get out of going to visit. Jerrod can’t believe that she lied about having Crohn’s disease and Bobby declares that Joe’s secret won’t be a secret any longer. Jerrod chases after Bobby, and Maxine yells at the chef.
Jerrod informs Joe that Bobby knows about Morris as he enters the house with Maxine. Bobby comes in out of breath and calls him a lying bastard. Joe tells him that Cynthia is upstairs and Maxine can’t believe that he’s kept such a big secret from her. Joe can’t believe that they’re talking so loud and asks if they’re trying to get Cynthia to come downstairs. Bobby declares that he is and that he wants Cynthia to know the truth. Joe says that she can’t know and asks Jerrod why he told Bobby. Jerrod tells him about the Facebook message and Joe curses Facebook for ruining lives. Joe tells them to leave, but Bobby tells him that he’s not going anywhere and calls him a lying bastard again. Jerrod tells him not to call their father a lying bastard and tells them to wait a couple of days as time heals all moral impulses.
Maxine counters that Cynthia needs to know the truth and Joe tries to negotiate payment to keep them quiet. Bobby tells he can’t lie to his mother for money and Joe raises the price. Though Bobby considers, he refuses to take the bribe. Maxine asks Joe how he lives with himself and Bobby says that lies are like Chlamydia and that they eventually turn into cancer. The statement confuses Jerrod and Maxine corrects him that HPV turns into cancer. Joe explains that he was a teenager when his one-night-stand got pregnant and she kept it. He offered to help raise the kid, but she rejected the offer. Maxine reminds him that he’s had three decades to tell Cynthia the truth and Jerrod argues that keeping a secret is more painful than finding out the truth. He declares that the lie is affecting Joe’s health but that it’s helped him be a better husband and father because guilt causes someone to treat someone right as opposed to love.
Maxine points out that it’s even worse that Joe’s forced his son to lie for him as well. Joe believes that keeping the lie turned Jerrod into the complicated man that he is and that people with no daddy issues are boring. Maxine tells Joe that things will be worse if Cynthia finds out the truth from someone else and paints a scenario where Cynthia meets Morris at Joe’s funeral for the first time. Cynthia comes downstairs singing and Joe tells everyone to shut up. She is surprised to see them there and Joe sings along with her to avoid the discussion. She asks what they are doing here and Joe tells them that they’re here for pie. Cynthia goes into the kitchen to get them pie and Joe tells them to either get out or shut up.
Maxine says that she can’t do this and Joe tells Jerrod to deal with her. Jerrod says that it doesn’t work like that and Joe tells them to act normal as Cynthia comes back into the room. Cynthia hands Maxine a slice of gluten free pie for her Crohn’s disease and tells her that she tried hard to make it taste good. Maxine thanks her and tries to hug her, but she insists that it’s just gluten. Cynthia pulls an eyelash out of Bobby’s eye and tells him to make a wish. Bobby starts to say that he wishes that she had the foresight to see the snakes in their family, but Joe yells at him. Cynthia goes back to get the rest of the pie slices and Joe yells at them for not acting normal. Jerrod admits that it feels wrong to be conspiring against Cynthia and Bobby says that their mother is an angel. Cynthia comes back with a slice of chocolate cake she made especially for Jerrod and he tries to apologize. Joe stops him and asks Cynthia for whipped cream for his pie. He tells them to get out before joining Cynthia in the kitchen. Joe and Cynthia sing together, as Jerrod, Maxine and Bobby leave the house.
The next morning, Jerrod admits to Maxine that he couldn’t sleep because he was haunted by the idea of Cynthia shooting him after meeting Morris at Joe’s funeral. Maxine confesses that she had the same dream with Cynthia shooting her instead. Maxine answers the door and Joe walks in. She tells him that she can’t talk to him because her Crohn’s disease is flaring up. Jerrod calls after her and tells her to stop lying about the Crohn’s disease. Joe admits that he’s had a rough night, and tells Jerrod that he realized that forcing him to keep his secret messed him up. Jerrod argues that it’s given him his cynicism that has protected him throughout his life, and that it’s probably helped raise him more than any good parenting. Joe says that he can’t keep forcing the family to lie, and that he can’t ruin Bobby and Maxine like he ruined Jerrod. He announces that he’s going to tell Cynthia everything, and admits he should have done it a long time ago. Jerrod tells him that he won’t spend a Christmas in his studio apartment if he gets divorced.
When Joe returns home, Cynthia tells him that she bought him the seedless tangerines that he likes. Joe tells her that they need to talk and that she needs to sit down. Cynthia tells Joe that he’s scaring her, but sits down at the table. Joe starts by saying that he’s nervous that what he’s about to say is going to change everything and Cynthia tells him to only tell her if she needs to know because things are nice right now. Joe tells her that she needs to know and that he’s been scared to tell her the truth. He tells her that he was young and stupid, but realizes that he needs to stop making excuses for himself. Cynthia is scared and tries to avoid the conversation. However, Joe pulls her back down and tells her the truth. He apologizes to her and offers to answer any questions. Cynthia doesn’t have questions and doesn’t want to know anything.
Cynthia gets up and asks Joe what he wants for lunch. He tries to hug her, but she tells him not to come near her and that he isn’t the one that comfort her after what he’s done. She asks him what he wants for lunch, but Joe continues to try and make amends for his actions. She ignores his pleas and asks him if he wants mustard on his sandwich. She keeps asking him and he tells her that he does want mustard. She finishes making his sandwich and Joe asks what she wants from him. She breaks down and tells him that she’s pretending like everything is normal when it isn’t. She tells him that she doesn’t know who he is and that he’s not the man she thought she was. Joe tries to comfort her, but she tells him to leave.
Joe sits in the living room and Bobby bursts in. He demands that Joe tells Cynthia and he tells her that he just did. He tells her that she is crying in the kitchen and Bobby leaves the house. In the middle of the night, Cynthia stands over Joe as he sleeps on the couch. He is startled when he wakes up and she tells him that she’s ready to talk. He remarks that he thought she was going to kill him and she says that’s good. She tells Joe that he’s made her that woman that everyone whispers about and she’s used to being the woman doing the whispering. Joe apologizes and asks what she needs. Cynthia asks what his son’s name is and he tells her that it’s Morris. She comments that it’s a terrible name.