Get ready to interweave your social commentary into those mandatory hip hop dance moves because we are covering #BlackAF this week.
Released: April 2020
Creator: Kenya Barris
Cast:Rashida Jones, Kenya Barris, Iman Benson, Bumper Robinson, Nia Long, Angela Kinsey
Breakdown and Analysis
- Is it possible to be honest on how you feel about something and support the creator at the same time? Whatever you put out into the world, just know there are two layers to it. Oti further explains, viewers have their biases (black tax).
- Recently, shows in general are very self aware. This can sometimes result in the delivery feeling super woke preachy. By not trying to offend anyone, you’re not necessarily saying anything or contributing anything that is new. In regards to these shows, we have a conscious type of penmanship. Sometimes it can be grating in it’s heavy handed messaging. KT does not believe this was the case for #BlackAF. Oti didn’t take this show as trying to portray the black experience. Once you remove that veneer, you can see what Kenya is doing and appreciate it for what it is. Kenya was basing this on his own life, which is not only about being black but also being successful and rich. They will squander or thrive in their wealth as they see fit. It’s not about Oti from the block.
- Kenya is very transparent and forthcoming. He is clear in the themes he wanted to address and discuss. We felt this was woven perfectly in the show.
- It’s fun seeing a character on TV say how annoying their kids are.
- We appreciated the way the show was set up, through mockumentary. The messaging is either through Kenya’s exasperated soliloquies or Drea’s voiceover. It is definitely important to choose the correct vehicle of messaging especially if the show is tackling themes as heavy as slavery and the over sexualisation of young black girls. We really appreciated the structure.
- Social Media is an integral component to your personality. Especially as a youth. There’s a lot of complexity surrounding the sexualising of young girls. In this moment, we see more of a connection between Izzy and Joya.
- There’s a lot of praise for mothers but not necessarily for present fathers.
- Kenya as the coach was no Hard Ball or other awe inspiring movie.
- After watching a particular black film, Kenya seeks out honest feedback when he didn’t like it. It is not lost on KT that Kenya, who is having the qualms, also has similar things said about his work. It was interesting but there is a lot of conversation on whether we support it because it is created by black people or are we supporting it to the point where we are offering feedback so we can rise together. It’s either, I am accepting you as you are or let’s get better together. Oti believes both. We accept and acknowledge it but now we start a process (outside of peering eyes) on where we can improve.
- Non straight white hetero stories are new to the industry. So if we want to nurture these stories, does that mean we give it a black tax? A woman tax? A person of colour tax? Because being able to create is an achievement in itself. Do we praise it for the fact that it’s been created and when we get to a point where we are seeing more diversity. Where do we lie in the pendulum?
- If you are watching a random movie and call it trash, there is no consequence. But if Black Cinema is trying to get to the point where, it’s not enough to just have one nomination. Do we embrace or only let quality in?
- You can only improve and grow from your failures. You need to put yourself out there.
- For a young person being inspired by stories being told, regardless of it’s critical reception. Growing up Oti, enjoyed a lot of black created films and he gravitated toward the culture and environment. It felt as if he was supporting the cause and enjoyed it being made and acted by people that looked like him. It is a bias within Oti that wants to see people succeed. There is a way to criticise without hurting people.
- There are different levels of viewership. We have this with Joya, just enjoying watching something. Kenya and Drea thought the movie was not good. And later with his extended family, he pondered if people he loves enjoyed the movie, who is he to say it is garbage? This is explored in the dialogue around Green Book and Juwanna Mann.
- We have been privy to the Tyler Perry joke but watching this show has brought a new found respect for him. He is not asking for handouts. He knows what his audience wants. He is minding his own business, literally. He is not striving for an Oscar.
- It’s not just, is it good? Is it bad? And does the standard white hetero story get the same scrutiny?
- KT used to be dismissive about less than exemplary. But given the recent pandemic, sometimes it is nice to have something that is watchable and light. Give me a tear if you like and fluids, if you’re nasty.
- If you’re worried about what people are gonna think about others based on a show, why isn’t the onus on the viewer? In 2020, we are at a point where we want to consume and understand stories that are not from our own frame of reference. Exposition is welcome. There are stereotypes that viewers may lean on but why is the onus on the creator? It is a balancing act.
- Kenya talks about a lot of famous people that keep their childhood friends around them. Oti laments it is about keeping people around you that you can trust.
- Joya was the breadwinner for a long time as Kenya was working on his writing career. There is a shift where Kenya is bringing an overwhelming amount of money. We also hear about Joya’s pregnancy complications. In your life, you forget that your relationship is ever growing. You can’t put your relationship on auto-pilot and think everything will be the same. We have conflicts within our selves so this further extends to the disharmony we might feel in our relationships. We constantly need to recalibrate. Kenya seemed very sharp and not wanting to understand what Joya went through emotionally. He thought she was just happy to be at home.
- Tonally, introducing marriage separation felt so jarring. It seemed important for Kenya to include it but it didn’t feel as seamless as the other themes.
Unrelated but vital points
- Bold & the Beautiful had more character development than Modern Family.
- We still need to explore the concept of people doing the same shit and when it is and isn’t ok.
- Merch idea: Sex Dungeons and Yachts.
- There is a meta sphere in Twenties with Hattie hating on Coco’s butter. All the chef kisses to Lena Waithe!
- Ryan Reynolds needs to stop taking comedy away from ugly people.
- We talk love languages, you are most welcome.Oti is the Kenya to KT’s Barris.
- Master of None and #BlackAF are what KT refers to as Thematic Sketches. They have a purpose, they have a theme and they get explored beautifully.