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Blindspotting

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What it’s about:

A spin-off sequel of the acclaimed 2018 film of the same name, Blindspotting the series is set in the same gentrifying, culture-clashing world of Oakland — and with some of the same characters. In the movie, unpredictable Miles is determined to get his childhood best friend Collin in trouble days before his parole term ends. But Miles is white and Collin is black, and when Collin witnesses a black man getting shot in the back as he runs from the cops, it upends his life.

In the new Starz series, Collin has left town, and now it’s Miles who’s in trouble; he gets arrested for possession with intent to distribute. His incarceration — which threatens to be a long one — forces his girlfriend, Ashley, to navigate a chaotic and sometimes humorous existential crisis as she and their six-year-old son, Sean, move in with Miles’s hippy mother Rainey and not-so-friendly half-sister.

Names you might know:

Created by Daveed Diggs (Hamilton, Soul) and his lifelong pal Rafael Casal (Blindspotting the film, DEF Poetry Jam), the cast is helmed by Casal (as Miles) and Emmy winner Jasmine Cephas Jones (Hamilton, #freerayshawn) as Ashley. Helen Hunt (Mad About You, As Good As it Gets) surprises as Miles’ mother and Sean’s grandmother.

Why it’s worth your time:

Using elements of poetry, slamish-recitif, theatrical reality, music, and the amazing, innovative choreography of Lil Buck and Jon Boogz, Blindspotting is one of the most imaginative shows on television. It also packs all the action, storytelling and character development of an hour-long drama into mere 30 minute episodes.

While it leans more towards the comedy than the darker, more violent currents of the film, the series is ultimately about how the trauma of incarceration impacts everyone in a family — and in an extended family. Here a multi-racial household, friends and neighbors all pitch in to offer comfort and emotional support to Ashley and her young son. Their strong inner circle is a sharp contrast to the cold, cruel, bureaucratic world that keeps Miles in jail away from them.  And as Ashley explains, “He just tried to do the right thing at a really bad time.”

The takeaway:

At a time when our lives have become centered around our phones, with nameless people providing food and services, Blindspotting drops us into a community of neighbors who support each other — with empathy, childcare, and rallying for the ones who need it most. Old school? Maybe, but this could be what’s missing in many peoples’ lives.

Watch it with:

Hamilton aficionados and Daveed Diggs devotees will enjoy moments of slamish-recitif gently sprinkled throughout each episode.  Fans of the film Blindspotting will appreciate seeing the characters moving on with their lives.

Finally, fans of Helen Hunt get to see her jump from Manhattan to Oakland, worlds away from her TV life as Jamie Buchman, Paul Reiser’s wife on Mad About You.

Worth noting:

While the 2018 film Blindspotting received critical acclaim, it was an overlooked gem until it earned some attention when former president Barack Obama listed it among his favorite films of 2018 at year’s end. You might want to watch the film first to see why, and to get a sense of the characters and their origins.

Emerging star to watch:  Child actor Atticus Woodward (Sean) is one of the most adorable young boys to ever appear on television.

Hot talent to watch:  Jasmine Cephas Jones, best known for originating the roles of both Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds in Hamilton, could rival J-Lo for future movie roles.  She earned an Emmy for her role in Quibi’s short form series #FreeRayShawn. She’s also the daughter of This is Us guest star Ron Cephas Jones, who plays Randall’s biological dad, and she recently became engaged to In the Heights and In Treatment heartthrob Anthony Ramos.

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