Sunday, August 30, 2020

Emmy Episodes: A Black Lady Sketch Show

It’s always my policy to watch every Emmy-nominated episode each year, which leads me to sample a handful of shows that I don’t tune in to on a regular basis. For the fifth year in a row, I’m making a special effort to spotlight each of those installments to offer my perspective on shows that I don’t review each week.

A Black Lady Sketch Show: Season 1, Episode 1 “Angela Bassett Is the Baddest B***h” (B-)

I watched this episode, which is actually the pilot of this six-episode series that was renewed by HBO for a second round, after marathoning all of the “Saturday Night Live” episodes in contention for Emmy this year. It is refreshing in a way to see sketches that are visually higher-quality and more polished, but I still have the same issue with this kind of series, which is that I really prefer a more cohesive storyline. The continued check-ins a number of hours or minutes after “the event” did maintain a narrative, though it was more about not breaking phones or spilling secrets than the apparent end of the world that just casually came up. There was a mild violence warning when the episode started since this show seems to lean towards action-oriented sketches, with the CIA agent who’s invisible ultimately fighting herself and the opening bit with the woman running away from the monster. I was happy to recognize a few actresses who aren’t regular members of the cast in this episode, including Nicole Byer from “Nailed It,” Yvonne Orji from “Insecure,” Gina Torres from “Suits,” and Laverne Cox from “Orange is the New Black.” The reason that I watched this episode was because it’s Emmy-nominated for Angela Bassett’s brief appearance, which really didn’t astound me all that much. She did fine with the material and made the most of it, but I’m not sure I would have remembered she appeared in this episode if I hadn’t been looking for her. Overall, I think what impressed me the most was star Robin Thede’s monologue skills as the absurd teacher in the Hertep Masterclass.

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