Amber Rose has been in the news recently for many reasons. She published an advice book called Bad Bitch. She decried a GQ interview that referred to her as Kanye West's "infamous ex" and Wiz Khalifa's baby mama. The list goes on, but the gist is that Rose has been taking control of her narrative and repeatedly making the point that she's an empowered woman who knows what she wants. She's also extremely vocal about what she doesn't want, which includes being labeled in any way, something she demonstrated with the dress she wore to the 2015 VMAs. Taking all of these factors into consideration, it was fairly surprising to see the guest-starring role Rose agreed to play on last night's episode of Black-ish. Rose played Dominique, a woman who used to date Charlie (Deon Cole). He describes her as the one woman he ever loved. Unfortunately, their torrid affair ended when she left to start her lifestyle brand, and he impregnated a Cinnabon coworker — a.k.a. his wife made him stop seeing Dominique when their son Eustace was born. Now, Dominique is coming to town, and Charlie wants to turn her from "the one that got away" to "the one that got away, got with a lot of other guys, then came back to me when she was broke." Charming. Charlie and Dominique have been texting again, but he's afraid to see her because he doesn't think his in-person game lives up to his texting skills. He also doesn't think she'll be impressed with his current life sitch. Dominique likes nice houses and men who comb their hair forward instead of back. Charlie possesses neither of those things. Enter fate in the form of Dre (Anthony Anderson) taking way too many anti-anxiety pills before a flight and accidentally calling Charlie to babysit instead of the family's usual babysitter, Charlotte. When Junior (Marcus Scribner), Jack (Miles Brown), and Diane (Marsai Martin) find out that Charlie's pining for Dominique, they devise a plan to get her to settle for him, just like the plot of a Nancy Meyers movie — right down to the farmhouse sink kitchen renovation, handmade lavender-honey ice cream ("like Meryl Streep [makes] when she has insomnia," Junior says knowingly), cheese plate, and Diane Keaton's white turtleneck with matching pants outfit. Everything goes according to plan, and Dominique is completely charmed by how much Charlie's life has turned around since she last saw him. She even shares his love of farmhouse sinks. Unfortunately, he can't stand lying to her. Charlie decides to come clean, thinking Dominique will appreciate the truth. Then, they'll sail off to Catalina together.
Charlie is, of course, known for making terrible decisions, and you can add this one to the list. Dominique can't believe Charlie lied to her again, and she storms out of the house. Just when you think that's the last of Dominique, she shows up at Charlie's door during the episode's closing tag. She tells Charlie that she cares about him, as if he hadn't just betrayed her trust again. Finally, Charlie cuts through the bullshit. "Care, or you're out of money?" he asks. "Does it matter?" Dominique shrugs. She agrees to go to Catalina with him, as if everything else that's happened between them is just water under the bridge. That's the moment that's disappointing and surprising. Yes, Amber Rose is playing a character. Still, given how much time she's devoted recently to telling women not to invalidate their feelings or listen to negative terms hurled at them (her VMA dress said "golddigger" among other things), the "does it matter?" line seems like an odd statement for Rose to be making. Perhaps Rose interpreted Dominique going back to Charlie as an act of empowerment. She'll use him for his money for as long as needed and then she’ll drop him like last year's iPhone model. They appear to be trapped in an endless cycle of using each other — he emotionally, and she financially. It's not exactly a healthy relationship, but it seems to be the one they've fallen into that sort of works for them. If Black-ish were commedia dell'Arte, Charlie would be the harlequin or the fool, so clearly all of his plotlines are meant to be lighthearted and amusing. That's exactly what last night's storyline was, especially with all the gender-swapped love of Nancy Meyers' rom-coms. Amber Rose has been presenting herself as something of a role model for independent, empowered women as of late, though. Even when she's playing a character on a sitcom, her fans are taking messages to heart. What they saw last night was a woman stringing a man along for money after he cheated on and lied to her repeatedly. It's the kind of cliché, stock female character we should be working to eliminate from TV and movies, and Amber Rose has the platform to help make it happen. Turning down such a role would be the first step.