"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."
Just as in its first season, A Black Lady Sketch Show pushes the boundaries of its sketch premises: "As reliable as the show’s humor is, there’s also a powerful sense of anticipation as you wait to see just how far (Robin) Thede and co. will take an idea," says Danette Chavez. "A motivational seminar can venture into the horrific, while some flirty twerking becomes a heroic last stand. A surprise ending can reframe the decidedly funny story that preceded it, or just add a new layer of meaning to it. These rug pulls, which vary from unexpected punchlines to poignant reveals to biting last-minute commentary, often evoke a common Twilight Zone theme: Be careful what you wish you for."
A Black Lady Sketch Show stars says that the show allows to tap into talents and sensibilities they couldn't tackle elsewhere: “One of my favorite hands-down things to do is physical comedy, and I haven’t gotten a chance to do that in the past. Usually that’s reserved for men,” says Gabrielle Dennis. “As artists, we train,” adds Ashley Nicole Black. “When you’re coming up, you learn how to sing, how to dance, how to do Shakespeare. I did Thai classical dance in college. You learn how to do all these things, and then you get into the industry and it’s like, ‘Stand here and say the setup so the man can say the punch line.’ You don’t get to do all those things. What I love about this show is we do get to incorporate all those different styles.”
Creator Robin Thede spent 18 months working on Season 2, mostly amid the pandemic: After the core cast was ready to go, Thede tells Variety she had to recast about 99% of the guest star lineup, making personal phone calls asking, “Hey, can y’all come do the show please?” “I don’t think anybody knew we were in production again, but (many of the previously booked guest stars) were either working on other things by the time we got back, or they were just scared to shoot during COVID, which we understood,” says Thede. “So, all the guest stars that we had booked right before we started shooting in March of 2020 were gone. It was a lot of change and a lot of things we had to pivot, but it’s worth it.”