“Canvas” has multiple meanings in this episode. It can mean going around your community to see whether or not they would be interested in voting in the upcoming election. Canvas also refers to starting with a fresh, blank canvas for a specific part of your life. In the case of Will and Carlton, both men want to start fresh and make each other’s lives more pleasant. Hillary wants a blank canvas to be successful as an influencer and a chef. Vivian wants to be the painter she used to be. The beauty in an episode like this is how all those different desires are navigated within the story.
I was really impressed with the idea behind this story because everyone is trying to rework their lives to what they want them to be. Who could honestly blame them, given the drama of the previous week’s events? I’m really enjoying the dynamic between Carlton and Will. I was especially impressed with them this week because the writers handled the idea of both men being from different worlds canvassing for the same cause. Carlton got little response from the neighborhood because he comes across as entitled, but Will, who comes from more grounded surroundings, could charm people into considering his Uncle Phil for District Attorney. In that moment, Will gained Carlton’s respect. He was no longer seen as a fluke.
Hillary’s issue is her mom has denied her the ability to become the top influencer she wants to be. This has nothing to do with race but more to do with what Vivian would like her daughter to be achieving. College students and graduates can identify with the idea that their parent’s wishes sometimes supersede their own, especially when it becomes a conversation about your career. I’m happy that the show chose to spotlight this sort of experience.
The challenge Bel-Air always faces is discussing the ever-growing dichotomy between race and privilege. The show walks this fine line well. I also liked that we got a peek into the challenges of growing when the family doesn’t want you to leave the nest in your own way. Many people can relate.
The biggest surprise of the episode was Ashley. There is a potential for her character to be of a different sexual orientation. I like this idea for Ashley because it gives her a way to grow into her own, but I want to stress that when you’re writing something like that, it can create an issue of being the first thing people talk about when they look at the character. I hope the writers find a way to get around this. “Canvas” is a fascinating look into privilege and learning who you want to be. I hope to see more of that explored in future episodes.