Other shows have referenced, to quote It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, “the orange one,” but no scripted series has addressed President Donald Trump as directly as last night’s extraordinary black-ish, “Lemon.” The Emmy-nominated ABC sitcom, created by Kenya Barris, has stealthily become one of the best comedies on network television, especially when it has something to say, like in season two’s “Hope.” That episode was set almost entirely in the Johnson’s living room, where they discussed police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement — “Lemon,” meanwhile, took place in Dre’s workplace; everyone involved voted for Hillary Clinton, except “resident white woman” Lucy.
When her co-workers demand an explanation for why she supported the “orange p*ssy-grabber,” Lucy explains, “I’m not some crazy right-wing nut you guys. I voted for Obama, twice. I even got my Republican parents to vote for him. He felt different. I believed he was gonna change stuff. But it’s eight years later. My dad’s still out of work. My hometown’s about to go under. And Hillary comes out saying she’s basically going to keep everything the same. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t work for me and my family.” It’s a perspective that you don’t get from Twitter egg avatars — a vote for Trump isn’t always a vote for racism. People have their reasons for backing Trump or Clinton and, “Lemon” argues, maybe if we listened to what those reasons are, instead of yelling at each other, there wouldn’t be such a toxic us vs. them mentality.
Through most of the discussion, the typically-outspoken Andre is unusually quiet, at least until Leslie asks him if he cares about this country. That’s when he launches into a monologue, set to Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit,” that’s as heartfelt and passionate as it is emotionally complicated. Here it is, in full.
“I love this country even though at times it doesn’t love me back. For my whole life my parents, my grandparents, me, for most black people, this system has never worked for us. But we still play ball, tried to do our best to live by the rules even though we knew they would never work out in our favor, had to live in neighborhoods that you wouldn’t drive through, send our kids to schools with books so beat up you couldn’t read them, work jobs that you wouldn’t consider in your nightmares.
Black people wake up everyday believing our lives are gonna change even though everything around us says it’s not. Truth be told, you ask most black people and they tell you no matter who won the election, they don’t expect the hood to get better. But they still voted because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
You think I’m not sad that Hillary didn’t win? That I’m not terrified about what Trump’s about to do? I’m used to things not going my way. I’m sorry that you’re not and it’s blowing your mind, so excuse me if I get a little offended because I didn’t see all of this outrage when everything was happening to all of my people since we were stuffed on boats in chains. I love this country as much — if not more — than you do. And don’t you ever forget that.”
Andre then walks out of the conference room (in real life, the cast and crew gave Anthony Anderson a round of applause after nailing the monologue). Later, after returning, he gives one final speech in voiceover.
“I’ve been lucky enough to raise four beautiful children in a world that showed them Jay Z and Beyoncé as king and queen, a black family in the White House, and a woman run and almost win the presidency of the United States. So if you ask me if I love America, the answer is yes. Warts and all. Can it be better? I hope so. And I hope that we as a people have it in us to come together and make lemonade out of our lemons.”
You can watch the scene here, and the entire episode on ABC.