We got a two-episode premiere of Lena Waithe’s latest show Twenties, and it set itself apart from the crowd right out of the gate. Which other network has content featuring a black lesbian woman trying to make it big in Hollywood?
For those keeping up with the current project, Waithe has been trying for years to get her semi-autobiographical dramedy picked up. BET finally gave it a home, and I hope Twenties sticks around for a while, at least. I’m already thinking of a Twenties and Boomerang crossover!
As the title suggests, it’s about a group of friends trying to make sense of life in their twenties. We have Jonica “Jojo” T. Gibbs as Hattie (who is basically playing a fictional version of Waithe). Hattie’s friends include Marie (Christina Elmore) and Nia (Gabrielle Graham).
From what I can tell, after watching the pilot and ‘I’ve Got the World on A String,’ while Hattie is a bit too laid back, Marie likes to be in control, and Nia’s waiting for Mr. Perfect to enter her life.
The story deals with Hattie getting a job as a writer’s PA. Her boss’s name is Ida B. and there seems to be a weird dynamic between her and Hattie. I don’t trust Ida B. one bit, and I hope Hattie is able to come out of the experience intact. The show made it clear it has influences from All About Eve. Now, I’m not sure if the iconic Eve and Margo dynamic will be used for Ida and Hattie, or Ida and one of her other employees. But there’s something suspicious going on.
One of the things I liked about this show is that it doesn’t shy away from the queerness. The pilot opened with Hattie being sexually intimate with her partner. And if you didn’t like that, well, that’s your problem.
The pilot and ‘I’ve Got the World on A String’ served as strong episodes (30 minutes each) to help viewers get to know the main cast and what narrative arcs they’ll be going through. Marie needs to breathe and handle her mother better. I’m not really sure what to think of Nia and her goal to find the perfect man yet.
Also, I love it when comedic content is self-aware, and Twenties is that kind of show. The script is full of moments that talk about the issues Hollywood has (including misogyny and racial prejudices and blindspots). An interaction between the three friends brought up the topic of how people tend to support certain content just for the sake of it.
Nia and Marie are fans of a fictional black-centric show because it’s important representation-wise. However, Hattie would like quality content that just happens to be about the black experience to be supported. In my opinion, both points are valid.
Heck! A decade back I used to accept anything that was queer-centric regardless of how poorly written. Such content was needed to pave the way. But now that times have changed, I’m okay with calling out poorly written or problematic queer shows because, hopefully, voicing an opinion can help move the needle toward progress and take the narrative from tokenism and being full of tropes to actual quality representation.
We did an entire “Quality vs Quantity in Queer Representation in Media” webcast a while back.
Now, don’t think Twenties is all about hammering certain messages. Both episodes featured tons of laugh-out-loud comedic moments without there being any intention to push a certain opinion. I couldn’t help but smile during the scenes where Hattie’s idea of what working in Hollywood was going to be like clashed with reality.
There are some The Devil Wears Prada vibes going around, and I’m here for it. Also, the music choices are amazing!
If you are looking for a dramedy with a black cast and queer woman lead, then Twenties is for you. I’m ready to accompany Hattie on her journey to try and make it big in Hollywood!
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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