As I looked forward to a nice long weekend in the sun, New York City gave us all the rain (and cold wind) it could muster. So, I had no choice but to dig out my sweatshirt and settle in for excellent television, instead. (Oh, well!) Here are the shows that held my attention all weekend…
I’d been looking forward to this show for weeks — so much that some friends and I had a soul-food brunch to celebrate its arrival. Based on the book by the same name, High On the Hog joins Stephen Satterfield with food experts of the African diaspora, including author and food writer Jessica B. Harris and culinary historian Michael W. Twitty. The series begins in West Africa in the country of Benin, one of the ports for the Transatlantic slave trade. This was perhaps the most gripping segment to me, looking at the types of meals Beninians enjoyed and passed down before they were ripped from their homes. Besides the recipes themselves, this show explores the nuances of Black individuals addressing the emotional impact of their vanished pasts and the new traditions and cuisine enslaved Africans brought to the South.
The first season of Special surprised me. It was so smartly written and important, I wondered why everyone wasn’t going crazy for it. When season two came out, I was thrilled. Creator Ryan O’Connell plays himself in a semi-autobiographical role — a gay man with cerebral palsy, learning to juggle a writing career, dating and friendship, as well as creating a more healthy/less dependent relationship to his mom. It’s complicated, beautiful and very funny. Season two continues Ryan’s path of self-discovery, and dives more deeply into some of the isolation he experienced as a child with a disability. He also seeks out a support group of disabled individuals who call themselves ‘The Crips.’ Ryan’s best friend, Kim, is played by Punam Patel; her confidence can’t be faked, nor can her straight-forward humor. One laugh-out-loud moment is when she, Ryan, and Ryan’s boyfriend recite the ‘Why is no one reaaaddyy??’ line from The Devil Wears Prada, because they’re running late for a trip. It’s perfect.
Master of None did what I wish a lot of shows would do — pass the mic to Black women. This season entitled ‘Moments In Love’ follows Lena Waithe’s character, Denise, through struggles with marriage, ambition, wealth, the decision to have kids or to not, and finding someone who feels like home. Naomi Ackie’s fearless, hopeful portrayal of Alicia, Denise’s wife, was my favorite part of the entire season. (I took so many screenshots of her flawless wardrobe!) I appreciated this season’s pivot toward Denise’s character, and the show’s departure from the previous two seasons, although they were great. Creator and usual main character, Aziz Ansari, only appears in the first two episodes and takes a quieter role as director. I‘d planned to watch the first episode and ended up watching the entire season in one night. I loved the voyeuristic feeling of peeking into someone’s private life, the quietest, most subtle moments. It’s my favorite season of the show yet; and I hope to see more Black love stories told in such tender, nuanced ways.
Anything I should add to my list? What’s a show you’ve watched lately?
(Photos from LA Times Hulu, and Netflix.)