While I was looking forward to a nice long weekend in the sun, New York City gave us all the rain (and cold wind) that could gather. So, I had no choice but to hunt down my sweatshirt and settle for premium TV, instead. (Oh, well!) Here are the shows that caught my eye all weekend…
I had been looking forward to this show for weeks – so much so that some friends had a spiritual brunch 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 author and food writer Jessica B Harris and culinary historian Michael W. Tweety. The series begins in West Africa in Benin, a port of the transatlantic slave trade. This was probably the most appealing part to me, given the kinds of meals the Benignans enjoyed and moved to before they were uprooted from their homes. Besides the recipes themselves, this show explores the nuances of black individuals grappling with the emotional impact of their fading pasts, new traditions, and cuisines brought by enslaved Africans to the South.
The first season of Special surprised me. It was so cleverly written and significant, I wondered why everyone wasn’t so crazy about it. When the second season came out, I was thrilled. Creator Ryan O’Connell plays a semi-autobiographical – a gay man with cerebral palsy who learns to juggle a writing career with dating and friendship, as well as forming a healthy/less dependent relationship with his mother. It is complex, beautiful and very funny. Season 2 continues Ryan’s path of self-discovery, delving deeper into some of the isolation he experienced as a disabled child. He is also looking for a support group of disabled individuals who call themselves “The Crips”. Poonam Patel played Ryan’s best friend, Kim. Her self-confidence cannot be falsified, nor can she be falsified in straightforward humor. One of the tumultuous moments is when she, Ryan, and Ryan’s friend recite “Why is no one real?” A line from The Devil Wears Prada, because they’re late for the flight. she’s perfect.
The Master of None did what I wish a lot of programs would do – pass the microphone on to black women. This season titled Moments in Love follows Lena Waithe’s character, Denise, through her struggles with marriage, ambition, wealth, the decision to have or not to have, and finding someone who feels at home. Naomi Aki’s bold and hopeful portrayal of Alicia, Denise’s wife, was my favorite part of the entire season. (She’s taken several screenshots of her flawless wardrobe!) I appreciated this season’s focus on Dennis’ character, and the show’s departure from the previous two seasons, even though they were great. The usual author and main character, Aziz Ansari, only appears in the first two episodes and takes on a quieter role as director. I had planned to watch the first episode and ended up watching the entire season in one night. I loved the voyeuristic feeling of looking into someone’s private life, the quietest, most subtle of moments. It’s my favorite chapter of the show so far; I hope to see more stories of black love told in such delicate and tender ways.
Anything I should add to my list? What show have you seen recently?
(Photos from Los Angeles Times Hulu and Netflix.)