“Buppies” Review: Drama With a Light Touch

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual

I’ve written and spoken a lot about Buppies for this blog and elsewhere, but that’s only because I think it’s a significant development within the history of original web shows.

Buppies is upon us; the BET-distributed, CoverGirl-sponsored scripted web series premieres this Tuesday, Nov. 24th (Hopefully. BET has already pushed back the premiere once to expand its marketing).

The show is a “mad-cap romp” through a day in the life of Quinci, played by Fresh Prince’s Tatyana Ali, a socialite and publicist enduring lots of drama amidst L.A.’s black upper crust. During this very bad day, she and her friends face issues of sexuality, pregnancy, dating, race, and careers and, most importantly, handle them in fabulous clothes!

Among the many web series by and about people of color released in the past couple of years, Buppies is the highest profile and most heavily marketed. It’s slick and humorous, light and heavy. The production values are great, the acting  and writing where they need to be. In other words, it’s a well-told story and perfectly pitched for this moment when representing race is vital but necessarily contingent.

Buppies,  created by filmmaker Julian Breece and produced by Ali’s HarzaH Entertainment and Aaliyah Williams, will engender comparisons to Sex and the City and has been compared to 1980s primetime soap operas, as I learned in my interview with star Ali. The comparisons make sense, but, being made for the web, the show really has an identity all its own.

Buppies knows that online most people want either a) comedy with a light touch, b) an instantly engrossing story, or c) well-developed and relatable characters. It mostly gets these right, particularly a) and c). Opening with glitzy montage about Quinci and her friends, inviting the viewer into the rarefied world of the black bourgeois, it promises drama and hijinks.

It more or less delivers. As the show progresses, the lives of its characters devolve into chaos. Secrets are revealed, betrayals are laid bare, and tears are shed. I don’t want to spoil things — why bother, episodes are short — but I will say there should be plenty of surprises to satisfy viewers.

Quinci will face the man who left her. Her uptight, snobbish friend Priscilla (Robin Thede) will lose her aura of perfection. Priscilla’s boyfriend Eliot (Preston Davis) must confront his betrayal, a scandal of a particularly saucy, if familiar, nature. Shaka (Ernest Waddell) tries to shake off his day job, pursue his dream of becoming a rapper and learn to embrace his new lover, whom his friends must also strive to accept. All the while Kourtney (Chante Frierson) is snappy and making quips.

Buppies will be airing weekly for, I believe, ten episodes. I’m not sure if I agree with this strategy, even though it’s the standard for original web series. I think I’m starting to prefer a daily release schedule. If people see the narrative quickly, they’ll be more likely to pass it on to friends. And as we all know, successful web content needs to be spreadable.

Either way, I hope Buppies will succeed, because it’s a good story that can encourage advertisers and sponsors to invest in web shows created by and starring people of color.

Enjoy!