Connect with us


Netflix comedy #BlackAF pushes race right to the edge for laughs



#BlackAF spoilers follow.

When Netflix opens its wallet, things happen: dreams are fulfilled, new shows are created and gold dust falls from the sky, which is presumably how we ended up with the new black sitcom, #BlackAF.

The show was created by Kenya Barris: a one-man comedy dynamo whose back catalogue must surely qualify for its own TV channel by now. Aside from Black-ish (Michelle Obama’s favourite show) and spin-offs Mixed-ish and Grown-ish, Barris also co-created America’s Next Top Model and co-wrote the cinema smash Girls Trip. His credentials speak for themselves.

#BlackAF revolves around a filthy-rich, LA-based husband and wife and their six children. Captured mockumentary-style by their daughter Drea, who’s on a mission to get into film school, the family’s lives are laid bare. So far so normal, although things start to get a little meta when you realise that the dad is a comedy writer called Kenya Barris who has managed to upscale his life on the back of a multi-million dollar deal with Netflix.


Originally called BlackExcellence, Netflix bragged that the show would “pull the curtain back and reboot the ‘family sitcom’ in a way we’ve never seen before” (via Vulture) which certainly was fighting talk – reinventing the sitcom is a big boast and not one which #BlackAF entirely lives up to.

Within seconds, it’s pretty obvious that there are serious shades of everything from Modern Family and The Cosby Show to Fresh Prince and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Not to mention the elephant in the room.

#BlackAF is a lot like Black-ish, right down to the high-flying parents, multiple kids and constant internal wrangles about blackness in the 21st Century – it’s even kept the little, educational inserts about black history. The big difference, however, is that whatever Black-ish had to say about race, #BlackAF manages to take one step further.

Barris isn’t an actor but his new TV vehicle has turned him into one (albeit one playing himself, in his own life), which has clearly given him the freedom to say whatever the hell he wants.

The show’s opener, a montage of Malcolm, Martin, Barack and Nelson, sets the tone for episodes with titles such as: ‘because of slavery’. And over the course of the series, no topic about race seems too gnarly to tackle: from white privilege and the adultification of young black girls, to the anguish of not being black enough, it picks at the family-friendly cosiness of Black-ish, right down to the bones of harsh reality.

blackaf on netflix


Pulling no punches, #BlackAF particularly delights in exposing the well-meaning “wokeness” of the white middle classes. When Kenya and his character’s wife Joya (Rashida Jones) show their white friends a photo of their teenage daughter, Chloe, sporting purple hair, the friends see nothing wrong in shouting ‘lit’ and highlighting her potential as a video hip-hop honey. Naturally, the Barrises waste no time in calling them out on it.

In reality, #BlackAF is less of a sitcom than a forensic probe into the mind of a rich, funny black man. With his blackness and success setting him apart from both white and black people, every day is something of a struggle, a fact best encapsulated by episode five.

When Barris is asked to host a panel discussion about a new film by a black filmmaker, he is thrown into a panic when he realises that the film is rubbish. It’s a quandary that sends him into a Carrie Bradshaw-style quest for truth: Is it really okay to praise a black film, just because you’re black?

Unable to reach a conclusion, Barris contacts Ava DuVernay (When They See Us), Issa Rae and Tyler Perry – y’know, a couple of mates – to get their opinions, which doesn’t particularly help him but reassures us that he is one of the industry’s main players.

The episode is weird and funny, in parts, but more thought provoking than anything else, which seems to be #BlackAF all over.

#BlackAF is available on Netflix.

Digital Spy now has a newsletter – sign up to get it sent straight to your inbox.

Looking for more TV recommendations and discussion? Head over to our Facebook Group to see new picks every day, and chat with other readers about what they’re watching right now.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Debbie Johnson Lays Into Jess Caroline: You HURT Colt! He Didn’t Lie to You!



Last week’s 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After? showed Jess Caroline explode at Colt Johnson.

Now, Debbie wants to make sure that they can’t move past that, demanding that Jess apologize for her anger.

In a sneak peek of Sunday’s new Happily Ever After?, it seems that Jess is for some reason spending time with Colt again.

If you’re not happy to see her giving him a second chance, know that Debbie is much madder about it … and determined to break them up.

“OK,” Debbie announces during a deeply awkward car ride, “we need to talk about last night.”

Jess Caroline hears the criticism

Debbie admonishes Jess: “It was not OK. You hurt Colt.”

She is trying to argue that Jess emotionally wounded Colt by expressing her anger over Colt’s lies.

Jess retorts: “Colt hurt me first.”

Jess Caroline corrects Debbie

This whole time, Colt remains silent while the women in his life banter. It’s deeply weird of him. It was the same way with Larissa.

Jess patiently explains to Debbie that Colt hurt her “because he lied.”

Debbie mistakenly defends her son, trying to split hairs: “I don’t think he lied … he just didn’t tell you.”

Jess Caroline: Vanessa sent me a message

Not only is that less than reassuring when it comes to a couple in conflict, it’s also not the truth.

“No,” Jess corrects Debbie. “He lied.”

She explains that Colt explicitly told her that he and Vanessa were no longer friends, but that in fact they talk every day.

Jess Caroline: yeah, I said a bad word

Debbie seems worried that Colt is simply going to continue in his relationship with Jess, which Debbie will not allow.

So she then tries to neg Jess about Jess’ use of language.

Yes, Jess acknowledges, she used a bad word, but she was calling Vanessa a “bitch,” not Debbie.

Debbie Johnson - you have male friends

Determined to defend her son, Debbie tries to make this about Jess being insecure, which is not what is happening.

Debbie points out that Jess has male friends, and that by the same logic, Colt can have female friends.

But Jess’ concerns aren’t about all women on Earth … she is specifically suspicious of Vanessa and of her “friendship” with Colt.

Colt Johnson tries to sound reasonable in the car

“I think that everyone just misunderstands each other and assumes the worst because they don’t know each other,” Colt says when he finally speaks.

“And when you come to Vegas,” Colt offers, “you can meet Vanessa. We can all have a drink.”

“No,” Jess replies firmly. “No.”

Colt Johnson fake texts to Vanessa via Jess Caroline

That is the end of the sneak peek, but here, you can see Colt’s lie for yourself.

He and Vanessa spoke and then he sent her this fake “breakup” text so that he could screenshot it and send it to Jess.

It was, of course, a deception — and yes, Debbie, it was a straight-up lie, not a lie of omission. A lie.

Jess Caroline throws her first shoe at Colt

As for Vanessa, it turns out that Jess’ worries were deeply grounded in reality.

90 Day Fiance blogger John Yates revealed earlier this summer that Colt had cheated on his new girlfriend … with Vanessa.

Colt had cheated on Larissa and Jess had worried that it would happen to her, so this wasn’t really a surprise.

Jess Caroline - just me crazy?

Someone who won’t let their significant other have any friends, or any male or female friends, is controlling and toxic.

But there are times when someone has to tell their significant other that, if they’re going to move forward, that person has to be out of their life.

Colt could have broken up with Jess when she told him to ditch Vanessa. That would have been fine. Instead, he chose to lie to her and waste her time.

Continue Reading


Electoral College Explained In An Animated Video From They Might Be Giants



Are you struggling to understand the needlessly complicated American electoral system? Have no fear! CNN and They Might Be Giants have got you covered. Tomorrow, the network is airing Count On Controversy: Inside The Electoral College, a special report explaining the byzantine inner workings of the electoral college. And to assist, they got TMBG to write a song about it with a Schoolhouse Rock-style animated video.

“Going into it, we knew that the idea of the electoral college may not be the sexiest concept for TV. So we were trying to figure out how to jazz it up a little bit,” CNN’s John Berman told Seth Meyers in an interview last night. To which Meyers responded: “I say this as a huge They Might Be Giants fan: I don’t think anyone has ever come to the conclusion that ‘We need to sexy this up, let’s get They Might Be Giants.’”

Watch the full song and Berman’s appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers below.

Continue Reading


Aussie Hottie Tammy Hembrow Flaunts Tight Tummy While Telling Fans To ‘Bite Me’



As we previously mentioned, droves of Hembrow’s followers wanted to take the influencer up on her offer and they sounded off in the comments section of her post.

“You got it girl💛💛💛,” one enthusiastic fan replied to Tammy’s “bite me” caption.

“YASSS MOM😍💖💖,” an impressed follower wrote while another said, “Please can I? 🥺”

Several fans noted that her phone case was too cute. “In love with that case🥺🧸,” one wrote. Hembrow has a thing for the Care Bears and cute, fuzzy bears in general. Keep scrolling to see her bear bottoms.

Continue Reading