By Arturo R. García
(Video slightly NSFW – one F-bomb near the beginning)
Issa Rae’s The Misadventures Of AWKWARD Black Girl has been picking up critical acclaim as of late, and as the series has progressed, it’s becoming easier to understand why. Slight spoilers under the cut.
The video above shows the jump-off for our protagonist, J, played by series creator Issa Rae. J cuts off all her hair in the wake of a break-up, not anticipating some second-guessing on the part of her now ex-boyfriend. And that’s when things start getting awkward, indeed.
Most of the series, though, takes place around J’s office – ironic, since the language is at times NSFW – where she deals with a parade of cringe-inducing co-workers: the boss trying to be “down,” a somewhat regrettable hook-up, and a one-man “Rainbow Coalition of racism,” among others. “I’m passive-aggressive, and I hate confrontation,” J says via internal monologue. “So I just hold my feelings inside …” The Office Space vibe these scenes conjure up have been among the best in the series so far.
J does have a way to cope, though – she writes some hilariously goofy “gangsta” rhymes and spits them, mostly to herself, though as of the fourth episode, there’s signs of an upswing in her social life. Maybe.
Colorlines’ Akiba Solomon has called J “one of the most textured black woman characters I’ve ever seen,” and our own Andrea says she’s “representative of quite a few of us nerds of all colors.” I know I’m waiting to see where things with her go from here. As a bonus, here’s the first episode:
Editor’s Note: Readers who watch the whole may notice that MABG has a lot of problematic jokes and language, particularly around queer identity and colorism. Feel free to bring these up in the comments section here. It’s an ongoing tension where we want to highlight works by creators of color, but all creators don’t share our anti-oppression values. (A good reference point would be almost all of our conversations around the depiction of women in the Harold and Kumar series.) We are still working out, internally, how we want to engage with this type of work. – LDP