Kenya Barris has created a TV empire by mining his real life for comedy. The frame for the new Netflix series “#blackAF” from Kenya Barris, the creator/showrunner of ABC’s “Black-ish” is to be black in America, gives one the ever-present feeling that you have to explain or excuse why you are occupying spaces. That meant or felt as though they are involved solely for white people, crouched in a posture of preventive vigilance, susceptible to the intended occupiers’ insults, condescension, or violence when our bodies occupy those spaces.
When those spaces are particularly wealthy, there’s the expectation that you’ll be additionally subjected to a host of snide insults or barbs aimed at your expressions of race, while asked to both stand-in for all members of it and be able to joke about how you aren’t like “those people.”
The concept of the show is this: the second-oldest daughter, Drea, is applying to New York University’s film’s school by making a documentary about her family. Her father, a successful television creative, exuberantly indulges said favorite daughter’s passion by hiring a film crew and kitting her out with the latest gear to film her family.
The Barris, though, are unicorns in more ways than one. In essence, they don’t exist in community with other black families with their level of financial prosperity, and they are one of a small number of black families in the white Hollywood circles in which they do exist.
Kenya acknowledges this in a thoroughly self-centered meta-moment when, amid a difficult period in his marriage and during a vacation to Fiji, he watches an episode of “Black-ish” and learns from his message, marveling at how good his show is. It occurs in the second part.
But if you don’t quite make it there, never mind. Barris is committing enough self-flagellation for the entire culture by way of an upscale reprise of past TV acts, and we are under no obligation because of anything to bear witness. Barris proves herself as a good actor. For more entertainment news click here.