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Cast of 'Boomerang' (L to R): Crystal (Brittany Inge), Tia (Lala Milan), Simone (Tetona Jackson)
Kareem Black/BET

Millennials Take Back Their Voice On BET’s 'Boomerang' Series: Premiere Recap

Simone Graham, daughter of Angela and Marcus Graham, and Bryson Boyer look to dominate the advertising world one trending campaign at a time.

What do you get when an Emmy-award winning actor and writer teams up with an Emmy-Award winning actress? A half-hour comedy we never knew we needed. Co-executive produced by Lena Waithe and Halle Berry, Boomerang is more of a spin-off than a reboot of the 1992 film of the same name. In that old cautionary tale of karma, the ever-so-promiscuous and narcissistic ad executive Marcus (Eddie Murphy) meets his match when his new boss Jaqueline (Robin Givens) is just as ruthless in playing those games. He eventually falls in love with Jaqueline’s assistant Angela (Ms. Berry), which brings us to the premise of this scripted-series.

Within the first few seconds of the series’ premiere, we are fake taken back in time to the ‘90s- coincidentally the era where Angela and Marcus — who happen to be the parents of our feisty, plays-no-games lead, Simone Graham (Tetona Jackson) — first met.

Off-rip, Simone is just what every company needs especially in 2019- that voice that points out problematic worldwide campaigns that would later lead to a Black Twitter drag session of one of your favorite ignorant corporate companies. Marcus may not have been as self-centered back in the day as some may recall, but poppa was a shark and it’s no secret that daddy’s dearest has inherited those razor-sharp teeth. When the male lead in their Kid-n-Playesque ‘commercial shoot leaves the dark-skinned model for a lighter one, our melanin queen, Simone, shuts down all of production like Chik-Fil-A on a Sunday, refusing to be “that” company that blatantly ignore social issues. (Oh hey, Gucci!) Simone may be a spirited chick but quickly learns that producer Victoria Johnson (Paula Newsome) is that “loyal bi**h” who has zero issue with humbling her in front of Bryson Boyer (Tequan Richmond).  The two clearly bump heads often and within seconds, Simone finds herself quitting and without a job.

Realizing that, “Damn, shorty effed up,” Bryson tries to convince his childhood friend to charm Victoria to get her job back, but with that touch-to-open whip and her bomb hairstyle, it’s obvious that it’s Simone’s way or the highway.

Like anyone who has had a rough day, indulging in reality TV is a must for young Simone and her poison is BET’s Hustle in Brooklyn. As Dani is arguing with Azia on the tube, Simone’s friend Crystal Garrett (Brittany Inge) walks in not too pleased to see that her bestie started the show without her — oh, and that she quit her job. No need to fret though because Simone has a plan to open an agency of her own. Crystal being the true friend that she is, reminds Simone that starting your own company isn’t possible overnight and that homelessness isn’t a good look. “Gimme a charge,” is the new “roll up,” and even through those kush clouds, Simone still sees her newest goal.

Meanwhile, at the Graham Agency, Bryson is the man in his little suit.  He even has a “this meeting is some BS” text buddy in our girl Crystal. As a room full of white/Asian execs clap at a greenlit ad filled with stereotypes, two of the three black people in the room stay behind to do what all employees in their situation would do under those circumstances — complain about how basic and lost their company is when it comes to understanding the culture. Many relatable questions pop up in this scene, one mainly being: Why are people who are not black millennials running content aimed at black millennials? “Buying momma a house,” is a common goal in the community and as Bryson pitches his version of execution in marketing the product to Crystal, he unknowingly gains some fans in the process. He gets his shot by the bosses to make his vision come into fruition. Victoria isn’t too pleased to have a youngin’ steal her shine but she still dishes out a measly $2K for Bryson to get his concept rolling.  It’s all about our young, gifted, and black brothers and sisters in 2019.

The moment Bryson, Ari, and David are in the gym on row machines, we are automatically hit with tons of nostalgia as that scene directly emulates the setting in which Marcus’ has an important conversation with Gerard (David Allen Grier) and Tyler (Martin Lawrence) in the original film. Back then, the topic was about Gerard's lack of play with the ladies but for young Bryson and friends, it’s about getting to that MONEY! (Cardi B voice).

Cut to the skrip (yes, skrip) club where “bosses” are counting singles; somewhere in the back Simone already has a plan brewing in her mind. All of the answers she’s looking for lie with Tia Read (LaLa Milan), a stripper who Simone wants to make major moves with. Simone explains to Tia that not everyone could be Bardi-rella but they damn sure could try and just like that, she has a new manager. Okurrrr.

A FaceTime call between Bryson and Simone makes it really apparent that Bry Bry has a thing for the kid. Knowing this, Simone uses her charm to convince Bryson to hire Tia for his commercial. You see, in her mind, it would be so dope if Victoria gets fired and Bryson becomes the new Marcus Graham.  And for a mere $1K booking fee, Simone is willing to help (so nice of her). All it takes is a smile and an “I’m proud of you” for Bryson to agree to pay for it. At this point, you have to feel some type of bad for Bryson who has no idea that, Simone’s ex Camden (Joey Bada$$) is still busting her yeeks. It’s not what any of us would think, though. Simone is just using him for the D. After all, if you can’t be used, you’re useless, right? All Pisces get blamed for Simone’s playa-playa ways and for a second, she actually looks sad to hurt poor Joey’s heart. Just for a second, though.

It’s now time for Tia’s close-up and right away it becomes Simone’s shoot- like, just Simone’s. Everyone is aggy. Presentation day arrives and as you “stay awake” for the next few moments to see it, the board is just as unimpressed in the new concept as Bryson seems to be in himself.  Now note, children: This is exactly why you don’t mix work with love. His little “I appreciate the opportunity” speech falls on Victoria’s deaf ears as she already knows why this love-struck puppy tanked. He needs to start focusing.

You’d think he would’ve been more tight at Simone after blowing an opportunity of a lifetime but two bottles of wine are all Bryson needs to forgive her.  (He swears he’s me.) We don’t know if it’s her smile or her Henny-straight complexion but Bryson not only compliments Simone’s eye in scouting the talent that essentially made his commercial fail, but he STILL pays her a grand. Must be nice. The lights are dim, music is low, and he shoots his shot with the leg rub, only to be curved by a question of preference to red or white wine.  That was hard to watch, brother. Hopefully, in the episodes to come, Bryson mans up so he can finally be the Marcus Graham (or Mr. Simone Graham) he aspires to be.

BET’s Boomerang airs Tuesdays at 10/9c!

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Pharrell's New Netflix Kids' Series Focuses On Importance Of STEAM Learning

Pharrell Williams is the executive producer of a new children’s show on Netflix that focuses on educating little ones on the importance of science, technology and current events.

“I got involved with ‘Brainchild’ because there is a desperate need to raise awareness about the importance of science with our youth, we must edu-tain,” Williams told Variety about his new series. The show is hosted by Indian-American actress and comedian Sahana Srinivasan.

Brainchild will use “interactive games, experiments and skits” to teach and highlight the “core concepts and principles of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).” It was co-created by Atomic Entertainment, and is billed as a spinoff of the Emmy-nominated show “Brain Games,” which aired on National Geographic Channel for seven seasons.

Williams and his i am OTHER production partner Mimi Valdes also discussed the idea of the show’s accessibility for teachers and students. Per Variety, “The curriculum is available without having to sign up or register for any account, and can be used at home or in the classroom to supplement existing tools.”

“It’s especially important to me to get STEAM-focused programming in front of minority communities,” Pharrell says of attempting to reach viewers. “That’s because at the core of the plight of children of color in this country is a lack of access to actionable education.”

 

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Prepare to have your minds blown 🧠⚡🌊💖💡🔬 I worked with the masterminds of Brain Games on a show that will empower kids by approaching STEM topics in a cool, new way and to provide anOTHER way into science. Thank you to our host @Sahana.j.shree, @AlieWard, Atomic Entertainment, @i_am_other and the @Netflix team. Brainchild OUT NOW on Netflix. #brainchild

A post shared by Pharrell Williams (@pharrell) on Nov 2, 2018 at 2:01pm PDT

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'Black Monday' Becomes A Dramedy As Its World Flips Upside Down: Episode 9 Recap

Blair was Mo’s mirror in episode “295.” In this week’s episode, he internalizes Mo’s qualities, and now the reflection wants to take over the original’s life, like a scene from Jordan Peele’s Us. Some of the most analytically rich parts of this episode revolve around all the allusions to Blair assuming Mo's role after agreeing to go along with the Georgina Play, two months after Mo informed him of the rouse.

Blair flirts with Dawn – the woman Mo still loves – while sitting in Mo's desk chair as Mo walks in and sees them. He gifts all of the Jammer Group inner circle with replicas of Mo's custom-made Rolex and calls them “Molexes” with "f**k em all" engraved on them. It’s the latter mantra that, in a surprising twist, leads to Blair potentially ending Mo as we know him.

An early criticism of Black Monday was Andrew Rannells’ inconsequential portrayal of Blair in the first few episodes. After carrying a large number of scenes in last week’s episode, this week’s showcases his shining moment. One of the funniest scenes s when Blair stops himself from saying "it's all good in the hood," after glancing at Mo, before replacing "hood" with "municipalities." That’s a very artful way to say if he wants to be Mo, he’ll have to do more than speak like him. Consequently, Blair does just that in order to get Tiffany Georgina to go along with the Georgina Play.

The Agency Of Tiffany Georgina

Casey Wilson, who plays Tiffany, needs to star in a spin-off show if for nothing else than to see her do another interpretive dance routine to a remixed version of the national anthem like she did at Tiffany’s wedding reception. We predicted in our review of episode “243” that Tiffany would have a bigger hand in the Black Monday collapse than we originally assumed, and this episode brings our prophecy to life.

Tiffany admits to Blair in the final scene of the episode that she’s a lot to handle but poignantly justifies it by stating everyone isn’t as sure of themselves as she is. It’s in that moment we realized out of all of the characters with considerable screen time, Tiffany may be the only one who never lied about herself. The comments about smart “orientals” are vacuous and her obsession with social status is asinine, but they’re also genuinely Tiffany; Everyone else adjusts their morals and personality to fit whatever gets them money.

Tiffany also reveals that when she was in sixth grade, her parents prevented her from legally emancipating herself from them by giving her a cartilage piercing and a new credit card. In episode “243,” when Blair innocuously says he’s staying late at work to do “compliance,” Tiffany instinctively knew that meant illegally shredding documents because her family is wealthy. Tiffany’s parents had their own daughter kidnapped in last week’s episode to boost the company’s value and now their daughter plans to steal that very company from them. The Black Monday writers used the Georgina family this season as a commentary on how money can make anything transactional, even love and loyalty.

Just like with Mo, the Georgina family may be undone by a monster they created.

The Dramedy

In today’s age of television, shows rarely fit perfectly in one genre. Orange Is The New Black’s second season was nominated in the drama category at the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards, a year after its first season was nominated in the comedy category. This blurring of the artistic lines has created a new type of show that is equal parts drama and comedy: a dramedy. After the last two episodes, Black Monday has become more dramedy than comedy.

In the first half of the season, Black Monday was roughly 90% hilarious debauchery with the 10% of deep introspection reserved for the final minutes of the episode. Over time, that ratio began to even out until last week’s episode, which delivered the highest concentration of drama acting of the season. In this week’s episode, the double and triple crossings in Blair and Mo’s heated rivalry are more central to the episode than Keith’s hysterical attempts at tricking the SEC and Tiffany’s ridiculous wedding. Aside from Dawn and Mo forming a secret alliance, the episode concludes with Blair’s most intimidating piece of dialogue as he breaks down the illusionary world Mo has constructed for himself.

While episode “7042” is the most compelling episode of the entire season, so far, the move into dramedy has its drawbacks. There are still gems like Mo’s double entendre of “I’ve unearthed secrets, got winded and fired,” a play on the name of legendary funk band Earth, Wind & Fire, who released their 1987 Billboard hit “System of Survival” a month before the events in this week’s episode. But, the hijinks and absurdist humor that Black Monday is predicated on are more separated than in any other episode.

As a result of this shift into dramedy, certain jokes not only fall flat but feel out of place and tonally different than the rest of the episode. Keith referring to the ability to know who is gay as “Navi-gay-tion” would be amusing in almost any other Black Monday episode. Him delivering it at the end of this week’s episode, after a dramatic exchange between Dawn and Mo, felt cringeworthy.

Hopefully, there’ll be plenty to laugh about when everything comes crashing down in the season finale next week.

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Jordan Peele attends the 'US' premiere at Museum of Modern Art on March 19, 2019 in New York City.
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'Us' Nabs Title Of Biggest Opening Weekend For An Original Horror Film

Jordan Peele’s second major film Us dropped over the weekend (Mar. 22), and much like its predecessor Get Out, it’s a monster of a hit.

According to reports, Us’ debut was the best opening for an original horror film in history, bringing in $70.25 million during its opening weekend. Its massively successful weekend also secures its spot as the third-best horror movie debut in history, behind the remakes of It and Halloween.

“Internationally, “Us” earned $16.7 million, bringing its total worldwide tally to $86.9 million,” reports CNBC.

Us tells the story of Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o), a woman who is traumatized by an experience she had as a child. When unexpected visitors who look exactly like her and her family pay a visit to their beach house several years later, she, her husband (Winston Duke) and children have to help her combat her fears and demons.

CNBC reveals that early projections for her film were close to $50 million. However, strong ticket sales prompted analysts to change their estimates.

"The film took in $29 million between Thursday previews and Friday night showings, a strong start for a horror film that doesn’t have the benefit of a major franchise fueling ticket sales," the report continues.

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