Friday, August 9, 2019

REVIEW: 'A Black Lady Sketch Show' - A Missing Mug Teases More Danger in 'Your Boss Knows You Don't Have Eyebrows'

HBO's A Black Lady Sketch Show - Episode 1.02 "Your Boss Knows You Don't Have Eyebrows"

A perpetually-late-to-work Shayla forgoes her morning makeup routine, to her coworker Toni's dismay. Trinity the Invisible Spy hunts down The Recluse, an elusive villain with a surprising identity. An array of average, awkward contestants perform before a panel of judges at the Basic Ball. Security guard Fatimah helps an office worker investigate who stole her missing mug. Robin, Quinta and Gabrielle uncover a shocking truth about Ashley's nighttime ritual.

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.

"Your Boss Knows You Don't Have Eyebrows" 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

Robin, Quinta, Gabrielle and Ashley all have distinct personalities. They show that there isn't only one way to be a black women in this world. They are all stunning and funny. And yet, there are cultural expectations for how they should act. Women are expected to wear makeup whenever they present in a professional context. Black women are expected to wrap their hair at night and lotion their skin. A number of the sketches here attempt to break down these conventions while also showing just how deeply imbedded they are within the community. The very first sketch presents a women who comes to work with makeup on and is treated a certain way. When she returns the following day without any, she saved time but even her closest friend is worried about how she comes across. It should be empowering to walk around with no makeup. And yet, this sketch articulates that it can often look like you are on your death bed saying goodbye to all your closest friends and family. That's sick and twisted. It's also untrue. Toni may see it all as a revolving nightmare that happens every time she sees Shayla now that she has witnessed what she looks like without makeup. But it really shouldn't be a big deal. It's made into a whole affair. One that runs the risk of traumatizing people but it never prevents Shayla from doing her job well. It's more an issue of personal bias which needs to be exposed. Meanwhile, the four women may be surviving the apocalypse together but they packed very differently for the occasion. Some prioritized the essentials for survival while others chose what would keep them satisfied. Even though the world is ending, they are still very attached to the standards set forth by this reality. They may celebrate all the things that are now gone and they no longer have to deal with - like mediocre men being appreciated more than them. But they also aren't freaking out too much about the new world that consumes them. Instead, they are having a fun time mocking each other for the ways in which they stand out from black culture. Quinta doesn't like chicken. Ashley doesn't wear a head wrap to sleep. Gabrielle doesn't use lotion. Each of these revelations brings about big reactions from their friends. But it's also trivial because it highlights their individuality and the need to embrace one another despite how different one's own approach to culture can be. Elsewhere, it continues to be so much fun to watch this cast do character work as they create new scenarios for both new and old creations. Trinity the regular looking secret agent returns with a new adventure. She believes she's hunting down the beautiful Recluse only for her to be revealed as the woman she let go free during her last mission. In fact, both of them continue to be under-appreciated throughout the world which will allow this drama to keep going on for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, it's clear that the show enjoys jumping around with tones. The wedding sketch is all about the humor that comes from the groom and bride being unable to agree with the basic terms of a traditional vow ceremony. It still ends well for them. It's just a labor for the officiant who has to pull it out of both of them. Meanwhile, the ball sketch does an excellent job in showcasing how the mundane and normal aspects of life can be seen as high fashion and entertaining too. The mixing of those two qualities actually creates a relatable concept where so many people understand the categories being performed while also laughing at how ridiculous it is in this particular setting. And finally, it's just twisted to see sketches that end in murders. At first, an office worker is just concerned about security recording her in her private office. But then, it transitions to her being a killer whose mug explicitly says that outright. People should be concerned about those who have mugs with messages that tease death or other really uncomfortable sayings. That's too commonplace for everyone to just be okay with it no matter what.