On Black Monday, identity can either make or break you. In order to mask his homosexuality in Jammer Group’s aggressively heterosexual environment, Keith buys his colleagues prostitutes and refers to Dawn as “Rodney Dangertits.” On this week’s episode, Black Monday plays with the sexual identity of two of its main characters: Keith and Blair.
Blair’s sexuality appeared to be clearly heterosexual in this season’s first five episodes. But, at the end of episode “243” and much to his bemusement, Keith confronted Blair about accusing him of being gay and how interesting it is given it came from Blair. In this week’s episode, Blair uses his relationship with Tiffany to prove to Keith that he’s not gay and has another climactic kiss, further complicating his sexual identity. But, the handling of Keith’s own sexual confusion was handled a bit oddly by the show’s writers.
Episode “122” takes place 121 days after last week’s episode when the first intimation of Blair’s homosexuality was made, and even that was vaguely memorable. Yet, in the first five minutes of this week’s episode, Blair’s already willing to change his favorite color from pink to “gunmetal grey or camo” and gets flustered when Tiffany mispronunciation of Uruguay sounds like “you’re a gay.” Perhaps the Black Monday writers wanted to show how the seed of doubt Keith planted in Blair’s head grew into a full-fledged paranoia over the last four months. While that would be a rather clever use of the time jump between episodes, this felt a bit more contrived.
The best message on identity from this episode actually involves a toupée and vomit. In the episode, Keith is reluctant to go to a predominantly gay aftershow party with his boyfriend in fear of being seen by people that may know him. Keith is willing to make himself violently sick to the point of projectile vomiting in order for him to skip his family trip and see his boyfriend’s show; He can’t simply go to the party. When he finally arrives at the party near the end of the episode, he’s no longer donning his signature toupée and decides to pierce his ears to fit in. Doing this allowed him to not only be less recognizable but also freer; a very profound take on identity.
Unfortunately, it’s this newfound sexual freedom that could cost him his legal freedom as more people know his secrets.
The Language of Secrets
Whether it’s Dawn’s husband secretly poking holes in condoms after voicing his desire to have a child in previous episodes or Blair questioning his relationship with Tiffany after his kiss with Dawn in the past, Black Monday characters in this episode wear their secrets on their skin. The escort Mo brought as his date to Tiffany and Blair’s engagement party knows Tiffany’s father’s name even though they presumably just met.
Black Monday used the language of secrets in previous episodes.
In episode “364” Keith’s former colleague Ty told Blair that Keith quit because he sucked, which made Keith visibly uncomfortable. Later in the episode, Ty told Blair he was talking about Keith quitting due to Ty finding him performing oral sex on another man. Secrets being such a foundation of the Black Monday world means the writers can give seemingly unimportant characters with wild connections to the main cast of characters.
But, the fun in Black Monday starts and ends with its leading man, Mo.
The Stench of Mo
The 1987 Wall Street crash gives the show its purpose, but Mo is Black Monday. His vulgarities and amorality permeate almost every character on the show. This episode was a 29-minute example of the good and bad of having Mo’s stench on you. Dawn rationalizes not having sex with her husband without a condom by stating “I bought a bunch of Trojan stock, so I’d kind of be working against myself.” This mirrors Mo’s joke in episode “364” about keeping stocks in condoms even as former First Lady Nancy Regan downplayed the AIDS epidemic as he knew AIDS was going to be around for a while. These little Easter eggs are what keeps the Black Monday universe believable.
Mo’s stench can also linger in the funniest ways. The episode starts with Jammer Group traders Yassir X (Yassir Lester) and Wayne waking up in a hotel room to a dead body after a wild night of drug binging. At the end of the episode, the pair find out it was all a prank schemed by Mo. Yes, Mo waited nearly six months since Wayne’s LaGuardia Spread risk in episode “295” to execute a complex and dangerous revenge plan, which didn’t take into account factors he couldn’t control like Wayne pointing a gun to his head and pulling the trigger to avoid his arrest. But, for a guy like Mo who lives in a God complex, this makes more sense than it should any regular human being.
We’ll have to wait until next week’s episode to see if Mo’s stench wears off on Dawn or suffocate the last bits of their relationship’s life.