Ever watched a show and gone, “hmm, this would be so much better if the characters spontaneously broke the fourth wall and rapped straight down the lens, or I don’t know…burst into interpretive dance?” If so, then this show is for you.
The TV series follows on from the 2018 film of the same name, which was written by and stars Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. Whilst it wasn’t one of those big movies that had everyone talking, those who watched it really loved it, and it became a bit of a sleeper hit over the year. It followed Diggs’s character Collin and his short-tempered and unpredictable best mate Miles (Casal), through the last few days of Collin’s probation. The film covered topics like black incarceration, gentrification and mental health issues, set in the close-knit community of Oakland, California. The series continues where the film left off, this time focusing on Miles’s girlfriend Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones), and her son Sean.
We catch up with her on New Year’s Eve when Ashely comes home excited to celebrate, only to find Miles being dragged into the back of a police car on charges of drug possession. Her partner then in prison, Ashley gets evicted and is forced to move in with Miles’s mum Rainey (Helen Hunt), a white progressive hippy with a fiery daughter, Jaylen, who wants to set up a cooperative strip club. So obviously there ends up being drama, lots of it.
But this lot don’t express their frustration by screaming at each other or storming out – they look straight at the camera and deliver a spoken-word-cum-rap poetry performance, or experience dance fantasies that it seems only them and us can see. Like the film, the series plays around with realism, and refuses to be confined to just one tone, being at once funny, unnerving and arty. And it does this pretty well, using the mixed moods to discuss many of the same topics covered in the film, focusing largely on race, class and the impact of gentrification.
For some viewers and for drama puritans we imagine this show might be a bit too many things at once, but for people who are open to an artistic, fun, and politically poignant series with a great cast and a compelling storyline, then Blindspotting is absolutely worth a go. And we reckon, like the film, this series could become a real sleeper hit. Especially now it’s been included in one of Must’s world-class Lists…
The Independent’s Annabel Nugent says “It’s not easy to create a film-to-TV adaptation that doesn’t feel like a derivative cash-grab, but Blindspotting manages it… the series affords the screen time necessary for more characters, more songs, more dance, more nuance, more drama. When the material is good – as Blindspotting’s consistently is – more time can only ever be a good thing.” Variety’s Caroline Framke agrees, saying “In clumsier hands, the surreal interstitials, constant fourth-wall breaking and spontaneous dancing could have overwhelmed the narrative itself. But with characters sharpened to a fine point, Director of Photography Tarin Anderson’s vivid camerawork, and organic choreography from Jon Boogz and Lil Buck, “Blindspotting” sets the stage for its experimentation to transcend gimmickry into a vital part of the storytelling at hand.” However in The Guardian, Chitra Ramaswamy says “sometimes, the writing can edge too close to trivialising, even glamorising, the issues,” though she admits, “when it works it sizzles.”
First shown June 2021. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.