Binge Theory 101: 2019 Must-Watch With Black Lightning, The Last OG, Black Summer, HANNA, SHRILL

I may be new to the fold here so bear with me if any information you may come in contact with here is lodging itself within the redundant spaces of your own intellect. Fortunately for me, I’ve been given the gift to retain useless information while anything of importance may fall wayside into forgetfulness. This is probably why I’m a good candidate, giving everyone my insight about what you should be watching when you’re allotted the time to do so. Now, while everyone waits patiently for the next episode of The Mandalorian, and is done with the latest season of Stranger Things (which was pretty badass), Ozark, Unbelievable, Atypical, and all those Christmas films you’re innundated with, there are a number of different shows that were released this year I’m sure are all but forgotten, but worth revisiting.

THE LAST OG (TBS)

Like most people, I’m certain I wasn’t the only one wondering if Tracy Morgan would actually bounce back after his tepid 2017 stand-up performance special on Netflix, Tracy Morgan: Staying Alive. I expected more and seemed to get much less but I gave him the benefit of the doubt because come on, he survived a Walmart truck and didn’t have to even attempt to do anything. His brief stint with Jerry Seinfeld in an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee was much funnier though. But this is about Tracy Morgan’s The Last OG, the show on TBS but available on Netflix.

There isn’t anything here that one isn’t familiar with, that is if you’re familiar with urban culture. Man sells drugs in his neighborhood, man gets busted for hustling, man goes to jail and does a 15-year stint. That’s obviously Tracy Morgan’s character Tray who is released from prison only to find his Brooklyn neighborhood is so far removed from what he once knew. Playing alongside Morgan is Tiffany Haddish as his ex Shay who was left to fend for herself, pregnant with twins. Also part of the cast is Cedric The Entertainer, playing the pathetic Mullins, who runs a halfway house for ex-cons. The star power is obviously there on The Last OG which includes rising star Allen Maldonado who plays his not-so-clever cousin Bobby.

Every episode pretty much stands alone, the constant being Tray and Shay’s children growing up more affluent than they ever did. The hilarity ensues from episode to episode always holding firmly to capitalize on any social issues P.O.C. may face. The show’s co-creator/producer is also Jordan Peele which simply adds fuel to the show’s reach. You can find the first season on Netflix without any of the annoying censorship on language and with the current season, watch it later on in the evenings to avoid the same. It’s worth the watch.

BLACK LIGHTNING (CW)

I was excited when I saw there was a show about Black Lightning. Did my friends share my excitement? No, question marks appeared across faces, complete ignorance on who the character is. DC Comics created the character back in 1977 and the character used his superpowers controlling lightning from his body to clean up the urban streets, or “slums”, of Metropolis. Places Superman wouldn’t be found. In comic form, he wore an afro and a mask and spoke a “jive” vernacular to conceal his identity as schoolteacher Jefferson Pierce. He’s the one hero that turned down the opportunity to join the Justice League when he was offered it.

Fast-forward to 2018 and a new show was developed for the character. Cress Williams takes on the role of Jefferson Pierce, and the storyline begins sometime in the future, long after Pierce has given up his crusading alter ego in lieu of a much more “normal life” as a father to his children and a principal of a local high school. The show begins with his character being pulled over by police, for obvious urban reasoning, and we get a glimpse of the lightning in his eyes, being profiled as he stands in the rain, unable to unleash his savage power. Eventually, he’s drawn back into the fray, battling against low-level thugs and drug dealers, finding his archnemesis in Tobias Whale, played by Marvin “Krondon” Jones III, the man who murdered his father when he was a child.

The show is a whirlwind of power utilized on both sides of the spectrum here, and incorporated into the show are Pierce’s daughters, Thunder and Lightning played by Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain respectively, adding much more to an already colorful storyline. James Remar (The Warriors) portrays Peter Gambi, the man responsible for all the cool gadgets as well as being Pierce’s mentor.

Now while the show is originally on the CW, Netflix also picked it up for syndication which allows us the opportunity to ignore our families and responsibilities for a brief respite of Fantasy. It’s just great to see a childhood fictional hero come to life with a show done well.

BLACK SUMMER (Netflix)

This one hit just as Spring rolled in and the series association with another show was widely misleading. Rumor circling Black Summer had viewers believing it was a prequel to SyFy’s now canceled zombie show Z Nation. Both shows are completely unrelated and that’s good news as Z Nation trailed off occasionally into comedic slapstick.   

Black Summer takes a different route altogether. The show revolves around a handful of characters who are thrown in together through a new apocalyptic zombie virus. The difference here as opposed to other zombie flicks, as soon as one dies, the virus takes effect and the hunger is all-encompassing. The undead travels at quick speeds and the characters need to move even quicker to avoid death. The character development has much thought put in for each actor’s role allowing viewers to become part of the show itself.

The series takes a bit of a new twist on the decades-old horror genre in the way it handles its undead, as well as showcasing the disparity with the living, seeing how they handle these new apocalyptic times. If you’re sitting in front of your television watching this one, you’ll definitely end up on the edge of your seat.

HANNA (Amazon)

Initially, I was hesitant about the Hanna series. Yes it’s related to the 2011 film of the same name but the series itself gets a little more in-depth, a little more personal with the characters. On the television show itself, Hanna is a brunette instead of a blond. There’s a wealth of naivete in her character, portrayed by the young Esme Creed-Miles, who goes through a rush of learning without ever dealing with teenage angst.

Joel Kinnaman plays the role of Erik Heller, her father, who goes through desperate lengths to keep her safe and alive, all the while being chased by Mireille Enos and Khalid Abdalla, the actors portraying the government antagonists here. I’m not always left on the edge of my seat but when things go down, it’s effectively abrupt and in one’s face.

SHRILL (HULU)

This is a series that I enjoyed from the very beginning. With a cast that’s led by Aidy Bryant, although her face was recognizable, I had no idea who she was. Going into this blind was perfect. Bryant is an SNL cast member and she’s quite funny. She portrays Annie Easton, a struggling journalist in the great Northwest and if her career isn’t enough to deal with, body issues throughout the show are often prevalent. Bryant doesn’t come wrapped in a petite frame but she’s neither willing to conform to societal standards or to what those around her feel she should look like. It’s commendable that this message comes across in the show.

Bryant humanizes her Annie character well as she deals and struggles with a demanding employer, sick parents, and idiotic boyfriends. 2020 will add a second season, which has been confirmed. SNL creator Lorne Michaels is at the helm of the Shrill production as an added bonus for those that enjoy Saturday Night Live’s sketch comedy.

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