Netflix’s ‘#blackAF’ is a no-holds-barred representation of almost every Black struggle
by Merecedes J. Williams, For New Pittsburgh Courier
Just when I thought I watched the entire Netflix catalog during this Stay-At-Home order, the streaming service releases the blackest fictional depiction since—actually, I’ve never seen anything this Black.
Roots, CB4, and Soul Plane are honorable mentions but nothing is as Black as #blackAF!
Kenya Barris, 45, the creator of “black-ish,” “grown-ish” and “mixed-ish,” makes his acting debut in “#blackAF,” an eight-episode series based on his actual family.
The series premiered on Netflix on Friday, April 17.
With the help of Rashida Jones, #blackAF is a no-holds-barred representation of almost every Black struggle, even through the lens of the rich and famous.
From the misconception of Black fathers to Black film reception, Barris’ whining, dry humor covers a wide variety of topics and is a joyful appreciation for Black people, Black culture, and Black influence. The subliminal jab at the Kardashians is just as enjoyable as the gut punch to America’s Dad, Bill Cosby.
Which leads me to my next point— #blackAF is a sweet balance between pushing the limits and saying what needs to be said. Barris admits Netflix provides him the platform to make more noise than network TV where he can be a “heightened version of myself.”
In a virtual roundtable discussion with the African American Film Critics Association on Thursday, April 16, Barris says #blackAF allows him to be “a little more edgier” and “more sarcastic.”
I thoroughly enjoyed the laughs that made absolutely no sense. For example, Barris’ former gang member cousin, Harold, calls Mrs. Doubtfire the White Juwanna Mann. That type of comedy is ridiculously genius. The only place in TV land where I can get those types of racially-charged laughs is HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Like Larry David, the co-creator of “Seinfeld” who created and stars in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Barris has made a remarkable transition from behind the camera. He is unapologetically raw and multi-dimensional, making serious topics like slavery, racial oppression, and stereotypes seem a little bit lighter.
There were more cameos in one episode of #blackAF than an entire season of Saturday Night Live. Special guests include Mike Epps, Nia Long, Tyler Perry, Bresha Webb, and Modern Family creator Steve Levitan. The Fab 5 of Black directors (Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, Ava DuVernay, Will Packer and Tim Story) have a classic scene with Barris where they discuss (and rip on) each other’s work.
No other show has that much talent in one setting.
#blackAF is Netflix’s newest gem, and in agreeance with Barris, I believe this show is “setting a base where we start celebrating ourselves more.”
While titles can easily get lost in a catalog that includes more than 5,800 TV shows and movies, this series rises to the top. Kenya Barris successfully adds another project to his repertoire that explodes with love for everything Black.
Barris is brave enough to tackle the “Coming to America” sequel, which is slated to be released later this year… Coronavirus fingers crossed.
FEATURED IMAGE KENYA BARRIS AND RASHIDA JONES star in the new Netflix series, “#blackAF.”