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