(Spoiler Warning: Stop reading now if you don’t want to know about last season’s episodes of the Web series The Mis-adventures of Awkward Black Girl.)
I am usually fairly late to the game when it comes to YouTube viral comedy sensations.Chad Vader, Mr. Deity, Antione Dodson and even the whole “Sh#t People Say” series. Usually, they are always sent to me by friends and it takes months before I actually watch the clips.
Such was the case with The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl, a web series by Issa Rae that has taken the Blerd world (Black Nerds) by storm. There are a legion of followers and fans from Huffingtonpost to CNN. I watched the entire series over the holidays and episode 11 ended in a cliffhanger, as the main character J has to decide between two guys who both like her. The love triangle is between J (the Awkward Black Girl), her co-worker Fred (who is black and has loved her from near and far all season), and Jay, Fred’s white friend who has been after CeCe from the start, but has stumbled a couple of times along the way.
The season one finale airs on Thursday, January 12th but fans have been buzzing about who J should choose for months. Using the “Team” meme from Twilight, Twitter fans of Awkward Black Girl have splint into #TeamFred and #TeamWhiteJay and battled over who should win J’s heart in the long anticipated finale. The implications of this love triangle’s resolution are actually much larger than most of pop culture consumers realize, and as much as my politics drove me, my sense of comedy won’t let me be on Team White Jay.
Usually a woman’s final decision in a love triangle on television is important to fans but doesn’t have any larger cultural implications. Did the world stop moving until Rachel chose Ross over Joey? Did the Smithsonian prepare an exhibit on why Carrie chose Mr. Big over Aiden? Did the NAACP release a statement when Melanie chose Derwin over Dr. McHottie? Nope, but none of those shows had the potential sizzle and genre bending potential of The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl.
MABG is the first viral web series based on a fully fleshed out three dimensional African American female nerd character set in the real world. Think about that for a second. Black women on-line and on television are often fashionable, sexy, stereotypical and a whole host of other things – some good and some bad and seldom in the control of Black women themselves.
However, nerdy, socially awkward, passive aggressive and funny is a collection of personality traits you seldom see Black women have in popular culture, such quirkiness is primarily reserved for White Men (and a few Black guys) in the Curb Your Enthusiasm / The Office / Community crowd.
Even more challenging is the fact that MABG is the best and most realistic comedic depiction of modern interracial dating on any media format today. This of course makes the #TeamFred or #TeamWhiteJay decision even harder with just hours to go before the next episode.
In general the depiction of interracial relationships on television and movies, certainly over the last decade have been horrible, racist and poorly constructed. For almost the entire history of Hollywood films and network television interracial relationships with Black men and White women have been all but forbidden. When they do occur the relationship is either always fraught with racial tension, doomed to failure, desexualized, the White woman is considered trash or the relationship itself is a joke to emasculate a White male character. (The one counter example was Taye Diggs short lived UPN drama Kevin Hill, and that got cancelled when UPN decided to ‘reorganize’ and change its demographic appeal.)
No matter how you slice it Hollywood and networks just don’t want to depict healthy normal interracial relationships between Black men and White women.
Now thanks to Monster’s Ball and Halle Berry the hottest thing in the world is to throw Black women into bed with White men on the big and small screen, but these relationships aren’t much better.
Increasingly Black women are being partnered with White men in popular media, as long as any of that icky uncomfortable stuff about their actual ‘Blackness’ is steamed out of the storyline. Moreover most of these films and shows would never pass the racial smell test.
What’s the racial smell test?
It’s fairly simple: with any situation, movie, event etc. change the races of the people involved and imagine if it would play out the same way. Racist, ugly old White cop Billy Bob Thornton puts Halle Berry’s husband to death, then makes her his personal concubine while fetishizing her with talk of chocolate ice cream. If someone wrote a script where Forrest Whitaker played a racist cop who killed Scarlet Johansson’s husband but she still gave it up to him raw for 20 minutes on screen it would never see the light of day and she certainly wouldn’t get an Oscar.
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss why my choice isn’t all about going with the home team.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.