Tuesday, September 21, 2021

REVIEW: 'Our Kind of People' - Angela Returns to Oak Bluffs in Pursuit of Creating a Legacy for Her Family in 'Reparations'

FOX's Our Kind of People - Episode 1.01 "Reparations"

Single mother Angela Vaughn arrives in the Martha's Vineyard enclave, Oak Bluffs, with her teenage daughter and aunt and immediately is thrown into a world of wealth and glamour, as well as the crosshairs of the powerful Franklin and Dupont families.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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 FOX's Our Kind of People.

"Reparations" was written by Karin Gist and directed by Tasha Smith

Angela arrives in Oak Bluffs full of opportunity. She grew up in this community. However, she has had to struggle elsewhere just to make it back to this place. Her mother has left her a building to potentially build a legacy for their family. That's what motivates all of these characters. They want to stand up proudly as displays of Black excellence. This community is populated by the Black elite. They each recognize the power of being influential with their authority. However, it also offers a fascinating examination of privilege. This community is very close-knit. They aren't always kind and welcoming to outsiders. Angela wants to make her mark in this place. She has the business skills and a product to do exactly that. She has a strong showcase moment by coming in to save the day during the mother-daughter fashion show. She appears to be the only person capable of styling the hair. In doing so, that becomes the center of attention on the runway. Her talent and abilities aren't enough to overcome the condemnation some have towards her for her past. The people in charge of determining if she is worthy look down on her because her mother was a maid who worked in this community. She wasn't just someone who summered here. Angela is trying to present her best self. She is trying to create generational wealth for her family. In the end, she will have to lie and scheme in order to get to the top. Fortunately, she has a way to do just that with the grand reveal at the end of the premiere. She has never known her father. Her mother always kept his identity secret from her. He was from this community and chose not to be a part of her life. And now, Angela learns that Teddy Franklin is her father. She still needs to run a test to officially prove it. That will provide her some legitimacy in this community. And yet, that love wasn't enough to keep her as part of this world. Something more happened between Teddy and Angela's mother. It cast her out of this community. That scandal should rub off on Angela too. That's what Olivia orders once she hands the reins of the social club over to her daughter-in-law, Leah. In fact, Leah seems to serve the generation before her who dictate the terms of this society. Of course, their actions are likely to result in scandalous secrets that have kept this society in its own form of oppression. It's now being passed along and taught to the people expected to carry the baton forward. Leah can publicly shame Angela. She can also force her father into retirement. She has her ideals. She wants to give back to the community. She is horrified by the methods her family are willing to take in order to thrive. But she is caught up in that power structure as well. She contributes to it. Angela is aware that Leah is probably her sister. This family is deeply connected despite their initial clashes. Angela wants to protect her family. She cares for her daughter and wants the best for her despite a troubled year in Boston. Angela has support. In trying to expand her business and build personal success, she will have to contend with these long-buried secrets that carry so much significance for those in this community who so often go unchallenged in their desires. It's all complicated as it pertains to its depiction of race, gender and class. But it's also a primetime soap opera. Some characters are more defined than others. Nothing happening with the kids is engaging in the slightest. Raymond appears to have no personality whatsoever. He hints at some marital trouble with Leah. If that's the case though, it's yet to be seen in a significant way. And yet, Angela at the center is enough of an engaging start. She has enough layers of development to keep the intrigue alive as the rest of the show figures itself out. She is grieving her mother while also discovering new details about the women she loved so dearly. Her time in Oak Bluffs could dramatically change everything. That will force her to reckon with the fallibility of her mother. She was trying her best. Her dream became Angela's. That resonates even when everything else seems much less clear.