Tag Archives: Awkward Black Girl

The Racialicious TV Roundup

By Managing Editor Arturo R. García and Guest Contributor Kendra James

“Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” creator Issa Rae. Via ABC News.

Issa Rae: Well, this is how web television supporters say it’s supposed to work. Now, can Rae and Shonda Rhimes deliver?

Earlier this week, Rhimes, the showrunner behind Scandal and Grey’s Academy, sold a sitcom to ABC reportedly titled I Hate LA Dudes. On the surface, it doesn’t sound that different in tone from Rae’s acclaimed (if occasionally problematic) Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.

But in going from the wilds of YouTube to Pharrell Wiliams’ i am OTHER channel and now to serving as co-executive producer and writer on a broadcast television show, Rae becomes the first notable web creator to complete the circuit. This brings pressure on multiple fronts: not only does she become, for better or worse, a test run for creators and executives looking to see how her style and fanbase translate to a “mainstream” stage, but you have to figure no small percentage of ABG fans will seek reassurance that the comedy that drew them to that show survives the migration.

On the other hand, with Rae making the airwaves not long after Mindy Kaling’s own ascension, we also have to ask ourselves: how much does progress need to be progressive? —AG

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Awkward Interracial Dating: High Hopes for Season 2 of Awkward Black Girl

By Guest Contributor Tracey Ross

(Note: Spoilers if you did not watch episode 7.)

I’m the kind of girl who walks down the street and doesn’t realize I’ve been singing out loud. Or offers a pregnant lady a seat on the metro only to find out she’s not pregnant. I’m awkward. And black. This is why I love the web series Awkward Black Girl and, like many ABG fans, am counting down to the premiere of season two.

Towards the end of the first season, the audience was left with a cliffhanger episode where the star “J” (played by show creator Issa Rae) finds her two love interests “Fred” and “White Jay” at her doorstep. If it’s not obvious, White Jay is white. And Fred is black. Given the choice before J, the show created an unlikely platform for conversations about interracial dating, and spurred much debate over whether it is OK to date outside one’s race. We can expect season two to highlight J’s new relationship with White Jay, but it would be a mistake to allow the characters to fall into the familiar tropes used to depict interracial dating.

Typically, there are two ways television and movies handle interracial dating. The first is the traditional approach where the family has a problem with the relationship. From the 1967 classic “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” to the 2005 role reversal of “Guess Who.” The second is the imaginary, post-racial approach where no one seems to notice that the happy pair is an interracial couple. Not even the couple themselves, as seen on many new sitcoms. Continue reading

Girls That Television Will Never Know

I tried to watch HBO’s much-lauded Girls.

I received absolutely nothing for my trouble, except 30 minutes with full-on screw face. Kendra and Jenna Worthham have already handled the diversity questions that arise with the pilot, but I have to admit that I really don’t care about diversity on this show. If they didn’t get the message by now, it’s not going to happen. And, on the real, is this what we really want? Diversifying that show is the pop culture version of integrating into a burning house.

My personal rule (being an urbanite) is that if someone can’t diversify their social circle in areas like Brooklyn or DC, they are not people I want to know. So whatever, the show isn’t for me. A lot of them aren’t–I don’t watch Two and a Half Men, nor do I watch Rules of Engagement, and that’s just fine. I’m not the core audience, and that was made abundantly clear.

After I turned off Girls, I tried to make sense of why I was so deeply pissed off. And for me, what stood out the most wasn’t anything to do with the monochrome cast. Nor was it the wink-wink nudge-nudge entitlement of the privileged class, though that’s fully there as well. (Pro Tip: Being aware of racism, classism, or ignorance is not the same as actually doing something about it.)

But more than anything, I was annoyed because the usual accolades, denials, misrepresentations that follow after a show like this airs. There’s the usual conversation from gender-focused outlets that these shows are for ALL women and we all need to go support or else we won’t ever get another shiny new toy. Then comes the idea that, even though this show is totally for ALL women, that we shouldn’t be attacking them for things like a total lack of diversity because it’s not fair to expect one show to be all things to all people. Then we start hearing the usual idiotic arguments about television being a meritocracy where, if you create good programming, you will automatically be served with a deal, or that it’s so unfair that this one show is getting so much negative attention when whatever new show of the year is one of dozens that fits the same basic theme of exclusion.

So for the purposes of this piece, I want to talk about why there is such a diversity gap in television, and in most pop culture, more broadly.

Let’s start with what is considered watchable. Continue reading

Webseries To Watch: The Misadventures Of AWKWARD Black Girl [Culturelicious]

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