A tale of two black guys

This is a story about two men. Two black men. They are both tall. They are both straight. One lives in TV LA, the other lives in TV Chicago.

This is Brad.

This is Winston.

Brad, played by Damon Wayans Jr on ABC’s Happy Endings, an improv-heavy ensemble comedy about six friends in Chicago with lots of that quick, pop culture riffing that has become the tone de jour since 30 Rock and Community, is a metrosexual  with a pair of great, pearly white teeth and a hot, ultra type-A white wife Jane (Eliza Coupe).

Winston, played by Larmone Morris on Fox’s New Girl, an improv-lite ensemble comedy about three men and one girl living in a loft in LA with the will they/won’t they non-tension of imminent copulation always, perpetually on the horizon, is a black man who played basketball in Latvia for some time. He likes the musical Wicked. That’s about it for Winston. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Everybody Hates Chris:’ Underrated treasure

BET these days is only good for one thing (not that it has ever really been good at anything): its reruns of Everybody Hates Chris, one of the most underrated shows once on television and a kind of mini-revolutionary take on the black sitcom.

It sounded like a horrible idea at first, Chris Rock, edgy stand-up comic, making a sitcom about growing up in 1980s Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

But the dude knew what he was doing. The single camera sitcom, starring Tyler Williams, as the 13-year-old Chris incarnation and Terry Crews, the fantastic Tichnia Arnold, Tequan Richmond and Imani Hakim as father, mother, younger brother and younger sister respectively, debuted to strong reviews and ratings. Read the rest of this entry »


White Noise

Be young, be white, an obvious member of the creative underclass, make a movie, get some buzz, make another movie, cast your famous artist mom, your sister, a fetching Brit, a cruel hipster–and  boom! A New Yorker profile, a Marie Claire  shoutout, mucho love at Vulture, an HBO pilot with Judd Apatow, a film collaboration with Scott Rudin! That’s what happens when good fortune shines on you, or rather when older white women and younger white women and a few men watch a mumblecore movie that takes them back to those postcollegiate years, when  life was hard and purposeless, and you let a strange, unfunny man sleep in your mother’s Tribeca loft and you continually straddle the line between bad acting and mumblecore acting.  Read the rest of this entry »


‘Not too careful with the calories, Mindy?’

That’s the takeaway sentence from this ridiculously condescending article from Vanity Fair’s December issue. In this iteration of John Heilpern’s recurring short feature, ‘Out to Lunch,’ Heilpern does that thing old white people are really good at: doling out compliments in the most unflattering way possible.

He wants us to know, right off the bat, that Mindy Kaling is “immensely gifted, and slightly nuts.”

Then, adhering to the tired trope of every celebrity profile, Heilperin describes her meal order in irritating detail. (Why he and other journalists in general do this is beyond me. I’ve never been even remotely curious as to what celebrities eat. Most of this has to do with the fact that they eat at restaurants that are so prohibitively expensive, I’m never familiar with any of the dishes the reporters are describing.)

Heilpern concludes the regurgitation of the menu with: ” She devoured the second course happily and requested jam to go with the toast.”

‘Devoured’? Really? And then, just in case I was willing to give his choice of verb the benefit of the doubt, Heilpern adds:

‘Not too careful with the calories, Mindy?’ I ventured.” Read the rest of this entry »


On ‘The Glory of Oprah’

This post isn’t about Oprah. It’s actually about Caitlin Flanagan, a contributing editor for The Atlantic who routinely sparks the ire of lefty sites. Slate explains why in this 2006 review of her book To Hell with All That:

 Flanagan enjoys condescending to her audience of entitled, educated mothers… The attitude is Olympian: “What few will admit—because it is painful, because it reveals the unpleasant truth that life presents a series of choices, each of which precludes a host of other attractive possibilities—is that whichever decision a woman makes, she will lose something of incalculable value.” Unless, that is, the woman is Caitlin Flanagan, in which case she can have things every which way and pay no price (in fact, earn top rates). Thanks in part to a husband with a big paycheck, she works cozily from home, on hand for her now preteen twin boys, and in command of a panoply of household help—from a full-time nanny at one point to a “personal organizer” and a gardener now. From her perch, privileged by the standards even of her professional-class readers, she scrutinizes the selfish pretensions and self-defeating contradictions that sprout like marigolds in affluent American mothers’ hearts and hearths. Read the rest of this entry »


Halloween Haters

I am a Halloween hater.

Not by choice. My parents made sure every October 31st served as a solemn reminder of America’s godlessness.

We are African. And Africans don’t celebrate Halloween. The idea is actually ludicrous. Witchcraft is alive and well all over the continent and the theory goes, you should never flatter witches with imitation. Any attempts to tell my parents that we wouldn’t dress up as evil spirits fell on deaf ears.

I remember my first Halloween.

My sister and I used to take swimming lessons at the Y. Halloween fell on a Friday that year and all the other kids got to leave swimming class early to get ready. My sister and I were literally the only ones in the pool. We got home and I had swimmer’s ear, per usual, and my eyes were red from the chlorine and we had to take our cornrows out. And there was no candy.

Miserable. Read the rest of this entry »


Modern Family: the show I keep watching and I’m not sure why

Another Thursday evening, another half hour lost watching Modern Family on Hulu

So if you don’t like it, don’t watch it

anonymous, hypothetical Internet reader.

I know, I should just stop watching.

But I can’t help it. Thursday nights are when I have to turn in my ‘Chemistry in the Atmosphere’ problem sets and I hate math so much, I’ll watch anything, anything. And after Ty Burrell gave that acceptance speech at the Emmys, I had to reconsider my initial verdict.

Unfortunately, it’s still the same. Read the rest of this entry »