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In Season 2, A Black Lady Sketch Show finds more ways to comment on the nuances of Black life

  • "Sketch shows like Saturday Night Live and even Mad TV in its heyday have struggled to consistently and intentionally center Blackness in a way that doesn’t set up elements of Black life and Black people themselves to ultimately be punchlines," says Adesola Thomas. "Even the classic SNL sketch 'Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood,' a parody of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, features an exaggeratedly ghettoized young Eddie Murphy remarking on the rough and tumble consequences of living in his neighborhood. The joke is hinged upon the stark contrast Mr. Robinson highlights between Black and white neighborhoods, but also upon the notion that Black people live in decrepit, violent environments. Therefore specific elements of some Black lives—like the challenges of living in a dangerous neighborhood—are made monolithic and conflated with Blackness itself, Blackness is subtly, implicitly rendered the joke. A Black Lady Sketch Show again and again manages to find ways to comment on the nadirs, nuances and particularities of Black life in ways that do not make a mockery of Blackness itself. Season 2’s revolving door of guest stars—including Gabrielle Union, Omarion, Amber Riley, Yvette Nicole Brown, Wunmi Mosaki, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Miguel, Skai Brown, the show’s executive producer Issa Rae and more—play characters who may be rendered ridiculous but are never themselves the joke. It’s refreshing, it’s sharp and above all it’s actually funny. The show is undeniably rewarded cool points for offering new life to the legacy of actually funny sketch comedy shows helmed by Black creative teams (In Living Color, Key & Peele, etc.) but its relevance isn’t grounded in its release during a moment in popular culture where calls for increased representation are made. A Black Lady Sketch Show stands on its own two feet as a meritorious, well-crafted variety program."


    TOPICS: A Black Lady Sketch Show, HBO, Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis, Robin Thede