Friday, September 6, 2019

REVIEW: 'A Black Lady Sketch Show' - A Courtroom Bursts Into Joy During a Case in 'Born at Night, But Not Last Night'

HBO's A Black Lady Sketch Show - Episode 1.06 "Born at Night, But Not Last Night"

Two friends come to regret their decision to visit a new black-owned restaurant. A mother and daughter go toe-to-toe in the latest episode of "Get the Belt." Taskmaster, Turnt and Insecurity help Krystal through a surprise hot-air balloon ride. A judge, bailiff, court reporter and attorneys celebrate their first ever all-black lady courtroom. Tensions rise between Ashley, Gabrielle, Quinta and Robin as the reality of their situation sinks in.

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 season finale of HBO's A Black Lady Sketch Show.

"Born at Night, But Not Last Night" 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

It simply cannot be stated enough just how revolutionary this show has been. These six episodes have presented black women in a variety of ways. They have been featured in stories they have never had the opportunity to be in before. So much talk is made about how much progress the industry and the overall world has made when it comes to boosting diversity statistics. But a show like this helps put everything into context about how much work still needs to be done. This collection of black women were able to come up with so many exciting and refreshing storytelling ideas. That's just a small sampling as well. There is still more to come with HBO already ordering a second season. That's very exciting. But this community should celebrate each other when these accomplishments occur. The courtroom sketch is not unlike the overall premise of the show. It's a group of black women celebrating each other because of what they have accomplished in their professional careers. This is the first time any of them have been an all black lady courtroom. That must take priority over everything else. Sure, it doesn't get in the way of a verdict actually being delivered. But it also encourages all of them to feel seen and respected in a way that the rest of the world simply doesn't. Here, everyone is validated and seen as the best possible version of themselves. Sure, one lawyer is trying to present a case solely around a cropped Instagram picture. That's ridiculous. But it also allows the story to have a simple conclusion that doesn't take away from the sheer celebration of this moment. That same concept applies to the various interstitials as well. Those have been simple and joyous moments of just seeing these four women having fun while surviving the end of the world. This is the episode that really starts to dig deeper into the actual horror of their new circumstances. Up until this point, they have simply been playing games, making fun of each other and having wonderful conversations. And now, they start to realize all of the things that they will now miss because the world has ended. There is even the fear of death for a moment even though the fear of being muted on Twitter is enough to bring Robin back to life. Plus, it all ends on a great joke that may even call into question the premise of the sketch. A knock on the door shouldn't be possible based on what they believe to be true. And yet, that's exactly what occurs at the end of the season. That's a very exciting moment that should hopefully fuel anticipation for the second season to arrive as soon as possible. In fact, there have been a fair number of sketches this season that end on a joke or a reveal that prove that the central premise may not be as clear as it seems. That's present in the very first sketch of the finale. In that one, two friends are trying their best to support a new black-owned restaurant in their neighborhood. Instead, they keep seeing it as a poorly managed place. It still may have pretty decent food. But the service and lack of silverware may really dampen the mood. And yet, all of this is perceived as being purgatory for these two. They will repeat this cycle over and over again until they learn some profound lesson from all of this. The final joke helps amplify the overall story. The same is also true of the potential threesome. That one drags a little bit. Though it is nice to see how this was an idea that started in a different sketch in the previous episode and blossoms into something new here. It too ends on the disgusting joke of what people actually do in their beds. That's a very solid final punchline. Other sketches are simply great ideas that sustain themselves across the few minutes they run in. It's nice to see the adventures of Turnt, Insecurity and Taskmasker once again as they try to help Krystal through her life. In fact, things have gotten significantly better for Krystal as she believes that her boyfriend is about to propose. A hot-air balloon may be terrifying but this man presents as someone who truly understands her even if she may be jumping the gun a little bit. And finally, "Get the Belt" could only be a game show from a different era. It touches on how physical violence was used as discipline for so long - especially in the black community. Everything is a dance in order to avoid that outcome. Mother and daughter are simply pushing each other to see who will break first. Victory comes from making it back to one's bedroom. That's a simple mission. But life is much more complicated than that. Plus, it's just hilarious to see the sports announcers actually brought into the sketch for the final joke. This is a finale that serves all of the women well while also encouraging the strengths of the overall writing. This is an important show that tells so many stories well. Hopefully, it will run for a long time.