A couple of weeks ago, “Reed Between the Lines” premiered on BET, and I watched it and wrote this review of my initial reaction. I was rooting for it for real. I know I’m a professional hater at times but I REALLY wanted this show to be good. I’m a fan of Tracee Ellis Ross and I think
Theo Malcolm Jamal Warner is FAHNER than 1,000-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. I wanted the show to be great. But it isn’t. Not even remotely.
After the first 2 episodes I saw, I figured it was just AIGHT and it’d get into a groove and improve. I was wrong. I’ve watched all 8 episodes they’ve shown so far and I can now confidently say that “Reed” is not a good show. I’ve given it many chances and it has failed me. After last night’s episode went off, I was in GChat talmto Mychal Denzel Smith (he writes #nshit) and he shared my sentiments. We basically went on a 30-minute long rant session. Here are our thoughts:
Mychal: I hate this show. A lot.
Me: I’m typically on hater mode. I’m all roast everything, but THIS hate is fully justified.
Mychal: And I think I hate it because I really wanted to give BET a chance. They seemed to be really trying to change their programming after about 15 years of relying on ass-shaking videos and finally investing in some original shows. A scripted sitcom with a primarily black cast is unheard of right now. But they dropped the ball on this.
Me: Man, I was actually giving BET the benefit of the doubt on this. I was excited for this show. And then…WOMP.
Mychal: The writing is abysmal. Like, it’s almost as if the writers have never seen television before. They read some “So You’re Gonna Be A Parent?” pamphlets at their local free clinic and decided “hey, let’s make a TV show about this.”
Me: LMAO!!! They were all “ok let’s do Cosby show 2011 but without all the funnies and interesting stories but with a laugh track” (-__-). The writing feels stunted. Nothing said on that show has made me laugh so far. And the dialogue seems tired. Not sharp. Or witty.
Mychal: It’s dry as hell. It’s straight out of a textbook. They’re not trying to tell stories about a family, they’re trying to teach black America about how to raise kids. If I wanted that, I’d take a parenting class. But I don’t have any kids. I wanna laugh.
Me: Well even if they didn’t make me laugh, that’s fine. But take out that tacky laugh track. Telling me when to laugh when your lines are bout as funny as homelessness is just not it. I’ve never expected them to make me laugh. I just wanted them to make me give a damb bout those characters. I checked my pockets and couldn’t find not ONE damb to give. This was me:
Mychal: I did though. I expected it to be a sitcom. I thought they’d at least TRY to be funny. But they seem content with “cute.” Which, if that’s what the focus of the show is, fine, but then this is more of an after school special than it is a primetime sitcom. On a cable channel, no less.
Me: Right. It’s cable so they can push the envelope. Instead, they stop short of GOOD writing. They have these sappy storylines with weak content.
Mychal: They don’t want to. I get this feeling they’re stuck on “positive” black characters and not realizing you can be “positive” and funny at the same time. They’ve had soooooo many opportunities to get some good jokes in. They’ve had opportunities to create conflict and mine it for humor. They’re too scared.
Me: Well the writing isn’t up to par but neither are some of those characters. Those twins? NO.
Mychal: I think the girl twin has potential. She could be more quirky and weird and it could come off well. The boy has ZERO charisma. And they have him dressed like a mix between Lil’ Wayne and Mr. T on his off haircut week, and that’s just not cutting it.
Me: LMAO!!! That NOHAWK gotta go! They dress him like the caricature of a teenager. Like some urban culture cartoon
Mychal: Right. They just have a lot of explaining to do. I don’t think they quite know who these characters are, and they don’t seem to be trying to find out.
Me: AND AND…they still won’t let us know how they became Theo’s kids. They have a biological dad they never speak about. It’s episode 8. Can we get SOME background?
Mychal: PLEASE! They’re calling him “dad” with ease, like his sperm is running through their veins, and I’m like “but HOW did they get to this point??”
Me: HA!!!! And when Theo got mad at the boy, the boy didnt even act like some folks would do. “YOU’RE NOT EVEN MY REAL DAD” coulda opened the door to more background. But NOOOOOO. They played it super safe.
Mychal: A perfect opportunity for some subtext, and they squandered it. Which is a running theme on this show. The twins seem like they’re supposed to be at odds with each other. But not really.
Me: Right. The twins have no chemistry that makes sense. They don’t really feel like siblings to me on any level. And where is some of the friction?
Mychal: They know the little girl is spoiled. But they don’t care. And the friction is where the comedy could come from. But nope, nothing.
Me: I’m annoyed by the squandered chance for greatness. They got great leading folks in Malcolm and Tracee. But they play them safe too. Plus, add the fact that he is essentially a house husband… that’s something else they haven’t even remotely explored.
Mychal: Nope. I have no reason why he’s homeschooling the girl. Just ’cause.
Me: 8 episodes in, there isn’t ONE storyline I’ve really cared about. I still barely know who that family is supposed to be. And I wanna get clippers myself and chop off the boy’s hair. All they’ve done is have a revolving door of guest stars. and even some of that has been a fail. Ron Artest playing Ron Artest poorly…
Mychal: This is something I really don’t understand. Why are you calling in all these celebrities and forgotten actors? It’d help if you dealt with the characters you have first, the ones with their names in the opening credits, before trying to go off on all these tangents. Like they had this unnecessarily long scene with the woman from “Amen” talking to her son over in Afghanistan or Iraq, I forget which one. WHAT DID THAT SERVE TO THE STORY???
Me: Right. Focus on the ones in the cast. None of these guest stars have made the show even slightly better.
Mychal: A parade of good looking black people is not going to save this show. And that’s the best thing I can say about this show so far. They all look nice.
Me: LOL YESSS THEO AND HIS TIGHT SHIRTS!!! I mean… you know. if you like that sorta thing. (-__-)
Me: And Tracee Ellis Ross’ alphets have been dope. So there IS a silver lining to all this
Mychal: Tracee and Malcolm have good chemistry. They just don’t have good writing to play off that chemistry.
Me: True story. Alls I know is that I’ve given it plenty chances. I’m pretty much done. It’s simply not good. It doesn’t make me care. And it won’t let itself be great.
Mychal: I’m undecided if I’m going to watch next week. I’m a glutton for punishment. Plus, what else am I gonna watch at 10 pm on Tuesdays? The news?
Me: LOL. I’m also a glutton for punishment but watching the show makes me wanna throw my laptop sometimes sooooo I think I’ma just stop my punishment. I tried. Maybe on tuesday nights, I’ll take up knitting. Or go watch paint dry. Same difference.
Mychal: I’m gonna go read some pamphlets in the Planned Parenthood lobby.
Me: *nods* I support.
So yeah, those are my thoughts on that show. It’s full of unrealized potential, a great leading duo, writers who are afraid to write honestly, and a bunch of guest stars. And kid actors who don’t relate well to each other on screen. It’s just not good, In spite of Tracee Ellis Ross’ luxurious coiffure and Malcolm’s bulging biceps. And I’m honestly disappointed. *shakes the shoulders of REED* WE WERE ROOTING FOR YOU!!!
I watched it to support
bourgeois Black programming but nawl. I did my best. It’s “positive” but bland. Like visual rice cake. I shall bow out. I won’t e’em blame BET too much. Although they do tend to have the opposite of the Midas touch on stuff. Midas turned everything to gold, and BET turns most things to crap so… yeah.
Anywho, have y’all seen it? Do you agree or am I being too hard on it? Either way… NAWL.