I write about culture from a pro-Black perspective

BET’s 2012-2013 Television Lineup Has Some Promise

If you read this blog, you know that I’m quite hard on BET’s shows, The Game and Reed Between The Lines, for not being as good as they should be. But it’s worth stating that it’s terrific to finally be in a position to even critique original programming on the channel. It took forever for BET to start developing projects, so even if their first few shots out the gate aren’t perfect it’s still important that the network is even trying.

Which brings me to BET’s announcement of next year’s television lineup. A new Wayans family production doesn’t excite me, but this does:

Also being fast tracked is “Gun Hill,” which would be BET’s first scripted drama. The series, which stars Larenz Tate and is being developed by Reggie Bythewood (“New York Undercover,” “Get on the Bus”), gives what producers call “a twisted spin to the biblical Cain and Abel story”: The lives of identical twins on opposite sides of the law — one is a cop and the other is a con — become intertwined one night when the cop is killed and the con assumes his identity.

I think the challenge for Bythewood, Tate and BET is to resist the urge to make the show simple. We are in an era where audiences are really responding to nuance and antihero protagonists. It would be great to have a show like that that is about black people.

And with an actor like Tate, who can go from sociopathic O-Dog to charming Darius to the dynamic Frankie Lymon with impressive ease, there is no reason they can’t actually create a multifaceted character to rival Tony Soprano or Don Draper. Because if done right, Gun Hill could have the potential to do for BET what Mad Men did for AMC and The Shield did for FX. To do that, the producers have to eschew the simplistic positive/negative binary and go for broke.

Here’s hoping.

Posted on February 8th, 2012 - Filed under Television
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Five Things That Will Fix ‘Reed Between The Lines’


I wanted to like Reed Between The Lines more than I did. It stars the great Tracee Ellis Ross and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. It was BET’s first real attempt at curbing its ain’t shitness.  And the first two episodes had real promise.

But, ultimately, the show was too in love with it’s desire to be a “Positive Black Family Show” and too indifferent to the fact that, outside of Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s Dr. Alex Reed, no one makes an impression. Man, the show is just dry.

After the jump I make five suggestions for things that BET and the producers can do to fix this show.


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Posted on January 2nd, 2012 - Filed under Television
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Why Malcolm-Jamal Warner and His Dr. Alex Reed Are the Best Things about ‘Reed Between the Lines’

Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Reed Between The Lines is 18 episodes in and so I now feel pretty comfortable saying that the only thing that totally works on the show is the character of Dr. Alex Reed and Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s work bringing him to life.

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Posted on December 6th, 2011 - Filed under Television
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I Spent the Week at Alyssa Rosenberg’s Crib on ThinkProgress