Friday, August 16, 2019

REVIEW: 'A Black Lady Sketch Show' - The Stars of '227' Reunite for a New Story in '3rd & Bonaparte Is Always in the Shade'

HBO's A Black Lady Sketch Show - Episode 1.03 "3rd & Bonaparte Is Always in the Shade"

Asia is shocked by a public, unexpected marriage proposal from her new boyfriend. New recruits talk about their goals and expectations at a gang orientation. A church service devolves when congregants take to the mic with self-centered motivations. Dr. Haddassah Olayinka Ali-Youngman turns her sister's wedding into a teachable moment. Gabrielle, Ashley, Quinta and Robin bond while discussing their ideal men and their worst dates.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's A Black Lady Sketch Show.

"3rd & Bonaparte Is Always in the Shade" was written by Lauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Brittani Nichols, Amber Ruffin, Rae Sanni & Holly Walker and directed by Dime Davis

Gabrielle, Ashley, Quinta and Robin have survived an unknown Event. They are operating as the last survivors of the human race. And yet, it hasn't dramatically changed their lives at all. Instead, they are still just hanging out in this apartment having a good time with each other. Reality hasn't truly set in that their lives have changed completely moving forward. They aren't making plans for how to survive. Instead, they are just talking about the qualities they like in a man and the various bad dates they have been on. It's still such a fun energy though. Of course, Gabrielle gets drunk and that's when she starts to worry about never interacting with another guy again. Sure, her recent relationship may have been absolutely horrible. But she still yearns for that connection that may be lost for good because of the circumstances of the outside world. But again, the highlight of these sequences comes from the four friends just having playful conversations with one another. It's low-key in a way that should be absolutely inspirational for anyone looking for authentic stories about women of color. Of course, the show can go to some colorful and over-the-top places as well. That's the central hook of so many of the sketches. This episode stages a 227 reboot. Now, the effectiveness of that sketch may depend on one's own familiarity with that sitcom from the '80s. But it certainly has universal appeal as well by commenting on how ridiculous it is that all these old shows from the '80s and '90s are coming back and ruining the formula that worked so well for them for so long. It presents the idea of doing this show as an actual nightmare for former cast members Hal Williams, Jackée Harry and Marla Gibbs. Meanwhile, the stars of this show get to delight in putting on those outrageous and outsized performances. Elsewhere, Dr. Haddassah Olayinka Ali-Youngman returns in a sketch that is dramatically different from her first. When she was first introduced, it was just her talking directly to the camera with her brand of conspiracy theorist. But now, she is actually seen interacting with the world. She was an insane women with wild ideas that had absolutely no basis in reality. And now, her family is seen as the normal ones embarrassed by what she is trying to do during the toast at her sister's wedding. She rejects today's cultural normalities in a way that alienates so many people. And yet, she does have one admirer in the best man. That could ensure that she is allowed to keep spouting off these crazy conspiracies without having to change who she is at all. That will likely keep this sketch premise and character alive for a little while longer. Meanwhile, it remains so fascinating to see the hooks these writers come up with for certain sketches. They may be simplistic. And yet, it's just a lot of fun to see a church service get hijacked by people wanting prayers for their very self-interested concerns. Wanting prayers to help with one's job isn't what the pastor was hoping for when he opened the floor to his parish. But that's all that his congregation seems interested in doing especially if it could actually improve their lives. Meanwhile, it's fun to see a gang managed like an ordinary business. It's revolutionary just to see a gang populated by women of color. But it's also exciting to see how the leader threats people using actual business terms instead of teasing that their lives could come to a shocking end at any point. Once again though, the opening sketch may actually be the best of the episode. It delves into the idea that people aspire to have a viral video of themselves with them also being okay with whatever happens to be depicted in it. All of Asia's family and friends had concerns about her new boyfriend. They thought she could definitely do better. She has valid concerns about their future as well especially if they are heading towards marriage. And yet, everyone tosses those concerns aside simply because they can be a part of a flash mob filmed for a viral video. Asia is baffled but it's hilarious to see how everyone remains engaged with the premise even long after they should stop because Asia rejects the proposal.