BLACK ON BOTH SIDES
Existing in a setting where blackness must come secondary to business. Our review of Black On Both Sides.
AFTER ACCEPTING A MANAGEMENT position at Legacy Wireless, Anansi Moor (Alonge Hawes) and his team at Legacy put in motion a plan to raise capital and start their own company. The plan may not be a legal one but for this tight-knit group, it the only way to beat a corporate structure designed to inhibit or outright exclude the black community. It's a system Anansi has worked hard to understand and infiltrate, cutting off pieces of himself and his heritage along the way in order to blend in. Black On Both Sides is the story of what it takes to rise up and succeed at any cost as the world attempts to kick you back down. This is my review of the complete eight-episode season.
I WAS A LITTLE SICKENED BY THIS SCENE, BUT UNDERSTOOD EXACTLY WHAT ALONGE WAS TRYING TO SAY
From Anansi being interviewed and securing his new position at Legacy to Maya (Kiara Patterson) dealing with the textbook example of a "Karen", we are quickly introduced to most of the main players of this series, and the world they inhabit. Nailing his job interview is a great way to start the series, the way he does it introduces us to reality. With company owner Cyrus (Scott Piehler) helming the interview himself, we immediately see how much Anansi is willing to sacrifice... including the change of his very name in order to secure the position and prove his whiteness. Right from the beginning I was a little sickened at this scene and understood exactly what Alonge Hawes was trying to say. It's when Anansi gets paid a visit by two "businessmen" it's understood there's a lot more going on here than at first thought.
As the expansion at Legacy is announced, along with Anansi's promotion, the group is angered because their store is leading in activations but getting their bonuses have been slashed, Anansi smooths things over reminding people of the end game. Anansi is also asked to cut his hair... which he does in order to look more white-washed. Meanwhile, Henry Gil Scott Heron (Julian Robinson) who was also promoted learns that promotion means everything is his fault. We also get some insight later on why Henry prefers to be addressed using all of his names. An interesting story in itself.
A RIVAL AT LEGACY WIRELESS BEGINS TARGETING ANANSI AND HIS FRIENDS
As the series continues, Henry Gil Scott Heron scouts for, and finds a great location to set up his own business venture, a podcast/talk show. He begins selling things in order to get things going and eventually, Anansi invests and becomes a partner. A rival at Legacy Wireless begins targeting Anansi and his friends forcing Maya to begin accepting instruction on how to be more white. Ugh, just writing the previous sentence gives me the creeps but perfectly demonstrates the world Black On Both Sides resides in - a world far too many people will no doubt recognize. Henry kicks off his newly formed company and show, "The Spoken Word" and Anansi, with some reluctant help attends a shin-dig hosted by Cyrus and gets asked to perform a big task for Legacy Wireless, a task he's been waiting for in order to pull off his master plan. All while he is again late on his loan shark payments and again, they come looking for him.
ALONGE HAWES DOESN'T DUMB THINGS DOWN AS THE SHOW PROGRESSES
I've summed up many of the key points of this show, but have kept things airy in order to not completely spoil the story arc. Black On Both Sides is a serialized production and of those shows that gets better and more complicated as it continues. There's a lot of backstories given that I haven't addressed here along with the conclusion itself. There's a lot of things this series recognizes and a lot of hard facts put on display that in truth, probably won't surprise a lot of people but is still a good viewing experience for those looking for a hardcore drama. The title of this series says it all and Alonge Hawes doesn't dumb things down as the show progresses. This is a series that further demonstrates the racist underpinning of society, but also holds a dramatic plot to beat the system. Or, at the very least, use itself against itself. Like all serialized shows, this one gets better as it progresses and is a great example of independent storytelling at its finest.
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