black monday showtime recap episode 3 season 1
Erin Simkin/SHOWTIME

'Black Monday' Recap: The Woman Is The Man

In episode "339," Dawn stands behind her career and Mo really tries to create a father/son bond with Blair.

Another week, another dive into Showtime’s Black Monday. On this week’s episode, “339,” Mo takes Blair out for a night on the town, Dawn gets a wake-up call about the effects her career has on her family, and Jammer Group trader Keith has the biggest character development in one episode than any character in the entire series.

The Woman Is The Man

On Black Monday, the only people who exhibit morally reprehensible behavior are men, except for Dawn. Regina Hall’s award-winning penchant for playing comedy and drama with the same temerity helps make Dawn’s mercurial personality, which can go from tearful to terrifying in an eyeblink, engrossing. In episode “339,” the show makes a conspicuous statement that the women of Black Monday are as important, if not more, as the men.

Dawn thinks her husband affectionately referring to his mother and father-in-law as mom and dad is a little “incesty” and doesn’t want him to be one of those guys who says “we’re pregnant.” During a family dinner with her husband and parents, Dawn happily announces she’s made partner at her firm, to the bemusement of her father and husband, who suggest she should give up her career to become a mother. Dawn’s mother (played by Coming To America icon Vanessa Bell Calloway), saying she’s “happy for” her daughter’s decision was a beautiful sign that Black Monday is invested in woman solidarity, but it was only the beginning.

Later in the episode, Dawn’s mother clarifies that while she is proud of Dawn, as a woman, for making her own life decisions, she’s not happy with her decision. Dawn’s mother implores her to “make something of yourself other than money,” Dawn replies that she’s happy being a “barren robber baron,”  the brilliant and nuanced the writing was for this episode made us yell at our screens. Instead of making women a monolith, Black Monday showed the women of the show not only can swear like the men, but they can also be as varied as them.
This sort of character development was due, in part, to how integral conventions of the 1980s figured into the plot of the episode.

The 1980s Is Everything

Up until episode “339,” the 1980s was an aesthetic for the show; the unseen force that dressed the characters and justified their actions. Within the first two minutes, Black Monday shows Mo sniffing cocaine off of a Nintendo Duck Hunt gun while playing the game and discussing Michael Jackson’s underage relationship with Brooke Shields and Muhammad Ali’s children. The only thing that could’ve made this a more authentic ‘80s moment is if Prince’s Purple Rain pulsated the walls as the team watched G.I. Joe and snacked on Jawbreakers.

The 1980s also catalyzed character development in the much-needed episode. As pointed out in a prior episode, Jammer Group trader Keith (Paul Scheer) was nothing more than a one-dimensional, glorified dirty joke excuse. Episode “364”  treated Keith's homosexuality as a joke punchline and narrative misdirection. In "339," we meet Keith’s secret male lover who helps reveal a softer side to the once cold-hearted Wall Street mongrel. In what can be considered the most ‘80s moment of the series, Keith explains why he can’t reveal his homosexuality by telling his lover, "In your world, they look at you like it's expected. In my world, they look at me like I'm infected."

Not only was this another prime example of how Black Monday’s script writing is the show’s biggest strength; it was also the viewer’s first, and most salient example on Black Monday of the disease that is Wall Street.

The Wall Street Disease

In episode “339,” Keith’s character is tender and thoughtful in the bed with his love, and outside the confines of Wall Street. It’s only when his male lover has something that’ll advance Keith in his Wall Street job that Keith changes from the caring soul that could recognize his lover’s legs anywhere to the crazed megalomaniac that will steal a Nintendo game system from his lover while decrying their entire relationship.
This episode did a fine job of elucidating the emotional stakes involved in the work these seemingly amoral individuals undertake. Mo has sniffed coke off more surfaces than I can count in the last three episodes. But, Dawn takes her first on-camera sniff near the end of the episode after using her husband’s blind love to entangle him in her illegal activity. It was the first time in Black Monday where inhaling cocaine seemed therapeutic; a way to manage the Wall Street disease.
So far, episode “339” is Black Monday’s best episode and a great example of the potential this show can reach if it stays committed to character development, mining the ‘80s aesthetic for storytelling and pushing the women of the show closer to the forefront.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Don Cheadle as Mo in 'Black Monday,' Episode 4 ("295")
Erin Simkin/SHOWTIME

'Black Monday' Recap: Mo Feels The Weight Of Playing God

Another week, another dive into Black Monday. In this week's episode, “295,” Mo tries to salvage his plan to get the Georgina company’s shares after Blair and Tiffany Georgina’s surprise breakup in the previous episode threw a wrench in that plan. By the end of this week’s episode, Mo gets what he wants but it doesn’t go as planned. Don Cheadle told VIBE that Black Monday was “insane...in a good way,” and this episode shows just that, starting with Mo’s God complex.

Stop Trying To Be God

You need a certain cocktail of self-aggrandization and delusions of grandeur to walk around with a God complex. Mo has that cocktail coursing through his veins. The entire episode revolves around Mo’s attempt to control the actions of humans by placing them in certain situations he is sure will yield his desired results. Only someone blinded by their obsession with being right wouldn’t see having to fix a “foolproof” plan makes him a fool.

The writing expertly showed that when you play God your creation is your reflection, especially in the tense scene at Mo’s dining room table with Blair and Dawn. He turned Blair into a cocaine-addicted party animal to show him how empty life is without having someone you love. Then, in one scene, Dawn exposed how all Mo did was build Blair in his image without realizing that part of his plan was to inadvertently show Blair just how miserable Mo really lives.

Even ostensibly innocuous details carry a huge emotional weight thanks to Black Monday’s writing and Cheadle’s consistently engaging performance. The writers literally had Mo on the outside looking in at forces out of his control at the end of the episode when he’s looking into the bar. It’s at this climactic moment of the show that Mo realizes his own mortality by getting what he wants but missing out on what he knows he needs.

It’s also at this moment that the show’s most boring lead character grew into someone worth watching.

Blair Is Here

For the first three episodes, Blair was as interesting as paint on the wall; always in front of your face but in the back of your mind. Before a single character utters a word in this episode, Blair is chain-smoking cigarettes, snorting coke and dressed like a Saturday Night Fever extra. He died “for a song and a half” and was electroshocked back to life, all in the first minute of the new episode. Blair has finally joined the Black Monday party and the show is better for it.

Mo molding Blair into his image allowed Blair to tap into a new level of confidence.  Blair’s exchange with Dawn about the implicit racism and sexism in 1980s films like Teen Wolf was rewind-worthy hilarious and ends with Blair remarking, “My favorite line from the movie is, ‘I’m not a f*g, I’m a werewolf. Oh, Michael J,” easily one of the funniest 1980s critiques on a show full of them.

The episode also entangled Blair in the show’s first love triangle, ensuring that Blair’s character growth is probably not done. With Blair now being compelling, following Dawn and Keith’s character-defining performances in the previous episode, Black Monday has set up its four most accomplished actors to be able to carry entire story arcs without relying on each other. But, the Black Monday world got bigger than those four in this week’s episode.

The Wall Street Mythology

There’s not enough time in a 30-minute episode to flesh out every character’s backstory and fully formed personality. The most surprisingly funny part of episode “295” was the story arc of Jammer Group traders Keith and Yassir (Yassir Lester) trying to stop Wayne (Horatio Sanz) from completing a “The LaGuardia Spread”. The arc showed that Black Monday has an ingenious way of speeding up character development: mythologize Wall Street.

On Black Monday, “The LaGuardia Spread” is when a trader takes a huge position on a stock, goes to LaGuardia Airport and waits to see if they made a huge profit or debilitating loss. If you guess right, you come home. If you guess wrong, “you don’t come home ever. You get on a plane and you f**king disappear,” according to a frantic Keith. Wayne was nothing more than a bumbling joke punchline of a trader before this episode. In only a few minutes of screentime we find out Wayne slept with his wife’s sister, has some weird dislike for The Howard Stern Show’s weekly guest Jackie Martling, and is so money hungry that he’d be giddy at the news of a mad cows disease epidemic and it’s positive effect on his “LaGuardia Spread” trade.

A similar result happened before on Black Monday. In the series premiere, the Lehman twins (Ken Marino) laid out the Georgina Play, the foundation of Mo’s plans to get all the shares from the Georgina company from Blair after he marries Tiffany. That Wall Street myth led to their grandfather setting himself on fire. That myth also showed that at any moment any person you see on screen become valuable because of what they about know how this fictionalized world works. As long as Black Monday continues to use the inherent absurdity of Wall Street as a machine for character development, this show could begin entering the conversation for one of the best ensemble casts on television.

Continue Reading
Actor Kel Mitchell and actor Kenan Thompson attend the 50th Annual Writers Guild of America Awards on February 21, 1998 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd/WireImage)

Kenan Thompson Says Kel Mitchell Will Appear In Revamped 'All That' Series

Pretty much everyone who was a fan of 90s Nickelodeon staple All That was thrilled to hear Kenan Thompson's role of executive producer in the revamped series. Now more great news has arrived as the comedian shared that Kel Michell will also return to the sketch comedy show.

Speaking with Page Six at the Writers Guild Awards Sunday (Feb. 16), Thompson shared his hopes to bridge the gap between the original cast and new members.

“Whoever’s down to [come to] do it, we would love to have them in my opinion,” Thompson said. “I know Kel [Mitchell’s] coming back, and I remember working close [sic] with Josh Server as well. I think all the old cast members should come support the new cast members. That’s just how it should go.”

Before their spinoff Kenan and Kel, the two were golden on All That with skits joint skits like Good Burger and solo characters Pierre Escargot and Repairman.

So far, things seemed to be going Thompson's way. Former All That alum  Danny Tamberelli also told Page Six he was thrilled to hear about the revival.

“I think it’s awesome!” Tamberelli said."All That was a show that reached out to so many kids from all different backgrounds and brought them all together through laughter.”

Tamberelli was apart of seasons four through six and was also one of the main character's on Nick's other enjoyable series, Pete and Pete.

Check out some memorable skits from All That below.

Continue Reading
Alberto E. Rodriguez

Jussie Smollett's Attorneys Deny Actor Paid $3,500 To Orchestrate Attack

Sources close to the Jussie Smollett investigation have spoken with several media outlets and allege new evidence shows the Empire actor may have orchestrated the attack, and even paid men $3,500 to go through with it.

The two men who are brothers were arrested Wednesday and released Friday (Feb. 15) without charges. Both men are cooperating fully with Chicago police, and authorities found records they purchased a rope at a local hardware store, which was used during the attack.

Smollett's attorneys, Todd S. Pugh, and Victor P. Henderson, quickly denied the claim made by authorities.

"As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," the statement read. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."

On Jan. 29, Smollett was leaving a Subway fast-food restaurant when the actor alleges to have been attacked by two men who beat him, poured bleach on him and tried to hang a rope around his neck. The 35-year-old entertainer, who identifies as gay, said one of the men shouted "This is MAGA country" as well as other racial and homophobic slurs.

Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said one of the men appeared on Empire and have past affiliation with Smollett.

During his interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America Thursday (Feb. 14), Smollett expressed frustration about not being believed. Sunday morning (Feb. 17) the hashtag 'JussieSmollettHoax' trended on Twitter. The Internet was split with many offering a digital "I told you so" due to the reports, while others, particularly members of the black LGBTQ community, questioning why many were quick to believe the word of law enforcement.

Us straight men waiting on the LGBT community to apologize after Jussie lied pic.twitter.com/0PDmNX4ykZ

— Flickens McCray (@Mickens__) February 17, 2019

https://twitter.com/angryblkhoemo/status/1096967004517515266

No idea what actually happened w/ Jussie Smollett. But do know that 4 years ago, Chicago PD spent 13 months justifying Laquan McDonald’s murder before releasing dashcam video showing he was walking away before being shot at 16x by an officer. Why are we just accepting their word?

— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) February 17, 2019

Continue Reading

Top Stories