The HBO sketch show created by Robin Thede, starring Thede, Quinta Brunson, Ashley Nicole Black and Gabrielle Dennis is interested in presenting as many different depictions of black womanhood as possible, says Ali Barthwell. "In a world where series like Saturday Night Live have struggled to find and showcase one Black woman, having four Black women share a television show feels like overabundance," says Barthwell. "The show delights in joyful moments of recognition between Black women, like realizing you got play cousins in common or that the other Black ladies at work got your back. ABLSS puts these moments of recognition in high-stakes situations, creating sketch premises that feel both familiar and outlandish." Barthwell adds: "It would be easy to sum up the appeal and impact of A Black Lady Sketch Show with a whole mess of clichés. There will inevitably be headlines that play off 'Black Girl Magic' and 'Black (INSERT NOUN HERE) Matters' but A Black Lady Sketch Show’s political impact is allowing for a unique and compelling set of Black women to center their voices and create a fun and sprawling universe to hang out in."
A Black Lady Sketch Show never settles for just okay: "Every sketch starts on one level, then keeps building on it until you have no idea how hilariously far from Earth it’s going to go," says Jen Chaney, adding: "Its sketches are consistently clever and surprising, often concluding with twist endings that add a whole other layer to the jokes that had us rolling a couple of minutes ago."
A Black Lady Sketch Show is an undeniable game-changer for comedy: "A Black Lady Sketch Show is universal—until it isn’t," says KC Ifeanyi. "It’s a show that fully leans into the storytelling and world building but that doesn’t have to cater to a wide audience. It’s an amalgamation of experiences that feel personal and real and, most importantly, are genuinely hilarious. Not to mention inclusive beyond what you think. A Black Lady Sketch Show does well in subtly showcasing various intersections within the strata of black women."
It's a much-needed jolt to TV comedy: "Almost every wisecrack in A Black Lady Sketch Show spouts and spreads like magma," says Jason Parham, "its wit and social clarity inescapable. All you can really do is give in."
Robin Thede on assembling her writers' room: "I literally called up 24 black women comedy writers and met with them over the course of three days. I could have hired any one of them, but unfortunately I could only afford to hire six. I was able to narrow it down, but it was an incredibly hard decision because they could have all written amazingly on the show. Shame on the industry if they say that there aren’t enough funny black women writers out there, because it’s a lie. It was very easy. I did not rely on agencies to find writers. I hire writers by word-of-mouth. I go to comedy clubs. Agencies always send the same half-dozen white dudes. Those guys will always find work."