I am always rooting for black creatives and try my best to support them, but in this case, I would be doing a disservice if I did not give my honest review of #BlackAF. Famous producer/writer Kenya Barris delivered a series that lacks the lure and realism of his other successful projects. Don’t get me wrong, I like Black-ish and a few other of Barris’s projects but this series fits into the category of “Nah, I’ll pass.”
“The very definition of ‘blackness’ is as broad as that of ‘whiteness,’ yet we’re seemingly always trying to find a specific, limited definition.” – Issa Rae
Acting Be Like…
I understand the series is loosely based on the life of Kenya Barris, but I find it hard to believe that Black wealthy people act like this… Maybe my opinion is influenced by the fact that I only personally know a handful of wealthy Black people. Out of those Black people, none of them act like the family in #BlackAF. If there is a family that exists as the one portrayed, I am pretty sure they would not be as extreme.
I do like the moments where the family supports each other whenever an outsider tries to attack, like with the white couple in the first episode. Besides a few moments within the first few episodes, there are not many moments I find relatable or compelling to finish the first season.
As I have become introduced to the screenwriting world, the most daunting task as a screenwriter is writing dialogue. All the top screenwriters have agreed that mastering dialogue is very difficult, so I can imagine writing the dialogue of Black people can pose as an obstacle.
Still, I don’t know any Black people that talk the way the characters talk. I assume the approach is to be as authentic as possible but there needs to be a bit of adjustment. The way in which Kenya talks to his assistant is definitely not believable. If that is the case, that person is a terrible human being.
“ Contemporarily, we struggle with people worried about representation sometimes. It’s a burden, as artists, that we take on that limits the work. It limits the characters people play. It limits the roles they want to do.” – Dee Rees
The Barris Act or Lack There Of…
From the very beginning of episode one, I became annoyed with Barris’s acting and just found his performance to be too whiny. I understand the character is frustrated with stereotypes and wants to be seen for who he is, but there is a better way to portray this. Take Al Bundy for example, Ed O’Neil portrays him as whiny at times but not to the point where he becomes annoying.
I think Barris could’ve easily picked someone else to play the character better and with a more compelling delivery. Similar to the way he chose Anthony Anderson to play the father on Black-ish. In all honesty, I think that is what makes Black-ish a more watchable show. The actors that portray the characters in Black-ish, combined with the writing, make Black-ish great.
In the end, #BlackAF is a rated R version of Barris’s hit show Black-ish, just not as engaging. I wish I could speak differently considering the amount of backlash #BlackAF got last year during one of its first showings. There’s wishful thinking that the series will improve and become the next big hit for the Black culture. I hope that the Black community continues to get opportunities to show diversity within the culture and share stories many people can relate to, vanishing the stereotypes place upon the Black community. Watch for yourself on Netflix.