Wednesday, September 4, 2019

REVIEW: 'Wu-Tang: An American Saga' - Bobby Feels Torn Between Making Music and Selling Drugs in 'Can It All Be So Simple'

Hulu's Wu-Tang: An American Saga - Episode 1.01 "Can It All Be So Simple"

Staten Island, NY. The birth of Wu-Tang starts with a bang - literally.

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 series premiere of Hulu's Wu-Tang: An American Saga.

"Can It All Be So Simple" was written by The RZA & Alex Tse and directed by Chris Robinson

Bobby is a protagonist torn between two worlds. He dreams of creating unique music with his friends but reality forces him into a life of crime. His older brother, Divine, believes that selling drugs is the only way to provide for their family in this world. Sure, others perceive Divine as a businessman who doesn't truly understand the hustle of this lifestyle. Power Grant and Sha Rader operate with the understanding that it truly is a race against the clock. They will keep with the grind until they are eventually killed by some deal gone wrong. That is the full expectation of what their lives should be. That's depressing and demoralizing. Sha is literally sleeping on a rooftop. He is homeless. But he still opens fire at Dennis while he is at home taking care of his two younger brothers. That certainly paints him in a very off-putting and horrifying light. Sha doesn't care who he potentially hurts. He is just following orders. He has the skills and the rhythm to actually make it alongside Bobby. They both just have to commit to that path. The world doesn't want them to though. It only sees them as two foot soldiers in these criminal enterprises. They may have some sense of love and family. But that isn't enough to build a way out of this world. Even selling drugs on the street may not be enough to ensure that everyone they care about is protected. It carries significant risks to it. It could easily get them killed at any moment in time. Or they could be arrest and face an uncertain future inside prison. That too may be the only ambition the world requires them to have. This premiere is building to Divine getting arrested by trying to expand his criminal empire. He sees this one shipment as the family's ticket to something better. He needed his crew to step up and help everything go according to plan. It doesn't. The police are there and pick him up. That is destructive to this core family unit. But it also means that Bobby may be robbed of the choice of what his future will be. Of course, the audience has the understanding that music will work out for him and many of the people of this world. As such, it does suck the tension out of the proceedings a little bit. But it also aspires to illuminate just how precarious and painful these choices were back in the day. This is still an ongoing struggle. Bobby made something of his life thanks to music. Right now though, he believes he has to steal this impressive beat machine because he thinks he'll never make it without it. That's the choice in his mind. It doesn't have to be. He is fairly skilled on the equipment he currently has. He has the freedom to record beats with his friends as they truly speak their minds. The other associates in the crew don't even believe they need fancy machinery in order to lay down a sweet beat. Bobby knows just how important all of that can be though. That's why he isn't there when his brother needs him for this deal. Of course, Bobby and Dennis being present may not have created a different outcome. Sure, Divine may not have been the one picked up by the police. But that still could have been the fate for anyone who was there at that particular moment. The pressure of this lifestyle doesn't immediately present as all-consuming though. Bobby is trying to balance loyalty to both Sha and Dennis. He has strong bonds with both of them. Sha also can't kill Dennis when given another opportunity because he actually gets to see the collateral damage his actions may cause. He knows that he can't do that in a way that could hurt Bobby. All of these actions do inherently mean something. The pressure is just on the show to pick up the pace a little bit. This premiere presents an expansive world. But it's also very much an origin story plagued by the need to explain every single motivation and action. That's not inherently a bad thing. It's just odd when flashbacks occur to Bobby's upbringing in North Carolina. That shows that he too has endured pain. It's just different from his peers in the city. But it's not immediately clear why he was sent to this place when he has such close connections to the rest of his family in the present day.