While I was looking forward to a nice long weekend in the sun, New York gave us all the rain (and cold wind) it could muster. So I had no choice but to dig up my T-shirt and tune in for great television. (Oh, well!) Here are the shows that caught my attention all weekend …
I’ve been looking forward to this show for weeks – so much so that some friends and I had breakfast for soul food to celebrate its arrival. Based on the book of the same name, High On the Hog joins Stephen Satterfield with African diaspora food experts, including food author and author 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 noticeable segment for me, looking at the types of meals that the Beninis enjoyed and carried before they were abducted from their homes. In addition to the recipes themselves, this show explores the nuances of blacks dealing with the emotional impact of their vanished past and the new traditions and cuisine of enslaved Africans brought south.
The first season of Special surprised me. It was so cleverly written and important, I wondered why not everyone went crazy for it. When the second season came out, I was thrilled. Creator Ryan O’Connell plays himself in a semi-autobiographical role – a homosexual with cerebral palsy, who learns to juggle a writing career, entertainment and friendship, as well as creating a healthier / less dependent relationship with his mother. It’s complicated, beautiful and very funny. Season two continues Ryan’s journey of self-discovery and delves deeper into some isolation he experienced as a child with a disability. He is also looking for a support group for people with disabilities who call themselves ‘The Crips’. Ryan’s best friend Kim plays Punam Patel; her self-confidence cannot be faked, nor can her immediate humor. One moment of loud laughter is when she, Ryan and Ryan’s boyfriend recite “Why doesn’t anyone react ??” line from The Devil Wears Prada because it’s late for the trip. It’s perfect.
Master of None did what I want many shows to do – passed the microphone to Black women. This season titled “Moments in Love” follows the character of Lena Waitha, Denise, through struggles with marriage, ambition, wealth, deciding to have children or not, and finding someone who feels at home. The fearless portrayal of Naomi Aki Alicia, Denise’s wife, was my favorite part of the entire season. (I’ve taken so many screenshots of her flawless wardrobe!) I appreciated this season’s turnaround to Denise’s character and the departure of the show from the previous two seasons, even though they were great. The creator and usual main character, Aziz Ansari, appears only in the first two episodes and takes on a quieter role as director. I planned to watch the first episode and I finished the whole season in one night. I loved the voyeuristic feeling of peeking into someone’s private life, the quietest, most subtle moments. This is already my favorite season of the show; and I hope to see more black love stories told in such gentle, nuanced ways.
Something I should add to my list? What show have you been watching lately?
(Photos from LA Times Hulu and Netflix.)