The newest Netflix obsession, Bridgerton, comes from TV’s peak pound-for-pound provocateur, Shonda Rhimes. And just like Shondaland productions Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder, Bridgerton’s propulsive dalliance with the messy underpinnings of society have all but endeared fans across the globe.

But just because it addresses and seemingly brushes past issues of class, status, and rape culture doesn’t mean we as an audience cannot take them on seriously.

In Daphne Bridgerton raped her husband and why it’s important to not romanticize it,” writer Yia Vue focuses on Daphne, who so desperately wants a child that she rapes her husband, Simon. …

Netflix’s newest bingeable heist series plays with race, but insists on doing so in a lily-white version of Paris.

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Photos: Emmanuel Guimier/Netflix

In Lupin, Netflix’s new French heist series, the first score takes place below the Louvre. Having joined the building’s janitorial crew weeks before, Assane Diop (Omar Sy) ascends into the opulent showrooms of the historic museum, transforming with the scenery from musty custodian to self-made tuxedoed playboy. The seamlessness of his metamorphosis nods at Assane’s Blackness — singular among the snowflake elite in the Louvre, nondescript among members of the working class in its bowels.

We’ve seen this fish-out-of-water juxtaposition before: Think Sammy Davis Jr. in Ocean’s 11. But in Lupin, as viewers get to know Assane Diop, it becomes clear that this is a key element of his shtick: he wields stereotypes, his presumed poverty and criminality, against his marks. In fact, race plays a central role throughout the show, which has lodged comfortably in Netflix’s “Trending” carousel since its January 8 release. But it too rarely bears fruit, desiccated by its own fantastical backdrop. The fictional world cherry-picks systematic racial dynamics from reality and simply erases Blackness elsewhere, begging the question: How could a vision of 21st century Paris — with its rich history of Black and Brown migration and creation — be so unseasoned? …

Fake News

How did this Black man end up on the floor of Congress in the midst of an insurrection?

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Photo: Kojo Ebro/Twitter

Not even a week into the new year, 2021 decided to show its ass. On January 6, Trump supporters raided the U.S. Capitol in a series of events that began as a “Stop the Steal” protest, then devolved into a full-blown insurrection — one that was incited and encouraged by the sitting president himself (and reportedly assisted by members of the GOP).

Anyone with even a baseline knowledge of American history could tell you how the hell we got here. But the same can’t be said for a man who is the subject of one of the more unusual photos capturing the chaos. First off, dude is Black, so there’s that. His attire — Nike Prestos, blue sweats, an orange hoodie beneath a bubble coat, a backpack, and a red cap turned to the back that may or may not be MAGA — is markedly different from the Walmart/Bass Pro/Rainbow Six chic sported by others who’d stormed the building. There he stood, seemingly lost and out of place amid vandals like Florida Podium Man and the guy rocking a skimpy Chewbacca getup. Needless to say, we had questions. …

18 years after its premiere, the reality show finally has a Black man at its center. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

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Photo: Craig Sjodin/Getty Images

This week, after resisting it for nearly 18 years, I finally watched The Bachelor. And the first four words out of my mouth were “Wait, that’s a dildo!”

On the screen, a White woman waved a lightsaber-style vibrator (censored, of course, given that this is an ABC production) towards a Black man, his face frozen in a nervous smile. And thus began my foray into the bizarro world of the Bachelorverse. Yes, I’m here on CP time — but it’s because they finally gave the CP time.

After approximately 7 million seasons, reality competition The Bachelor has finally cast a Black man, Matt James, as its lead. Which is why a rookie like me had to tune in to see how they would stick the landing in these here racial gymnastics. And no matter what I’d expected, I couldn’t have asked for a more surreal introduction to what is truly a wild-ass show. The first episode of the new season — aka The Bachelor: Noir, aka The B(l)ac(k)helor — was chock full of newish personalities from glammy to scammy, with queens, kings, princesses, CEOs, and a healthy amount of electric dick. …

The actor’s unforgettable soliloquy lays bare all the pain and struggle he hid so well in his fight against cancer

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“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” Photo: David Lee/NETFLIX

When word spread that Boseman’s body had succumbed to cancer, a torrent of questions followed almost immediately. How long had he fought? How long had he known? How had we, the public, never seen his struggle? Never a moment did he falter under the heat of the stage lights. But in his final living performance, as Levee in George Wolfe’s Netflix adaptation of the August Wilson play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Boseman gives us a slice of his melancholy: the anger, the existential questioning, and spiritual conflict of his blues. Where he takes Wilson’s text, where he takes himself, is an act of total immersion. A sinking. A drowning. …

LEVEL Best Man 2020

Instead of holding each other accountable, Black men rushed to support celebrities who displayed the worst of us

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Illustration: Franco Égalité

Hip-hop’s brooding edgelord antagonism toward Black women didn’t appear out of nowhere — blame Western patriarchy for that — but it’s thrived because of power-hungry Black men. And in 2020, no instance made this clearer than what went down between Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez, and an internet full of hip-hop fans.

The story’s been told, but it bears repeating. In July, after a post-party dispute, Tory Lanez shot Meg in both her feet. She posted pictures of them, and after some diplomatic restraint explained the whole story on her Instagram, calling out Tory’s team for seeding lies to hip-hop blogs. Rather than show solidarity in the midst of a clearly traumatic situation, hip-hop icons from Cam’ron to 50 Cent took the opportunity to get jokes off instead. …

The antebellum series serves as a case study for properly retelling Black liberation by avoiding White messiahs

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Photo: William Gray/SHOWTIME

In Hollywood, White people love casting themselves as heroes, historical accuracy be damned. You’ve seen the trope before: the White saviors in film and television who, in one way or another, always manage to swoop in and save the day, uplifting (or outright liberating) Black folks left and right. How rewarding it must feel to watch characters who are so… redeemable. …

Your paintings are monstrosities — and they’re just what I need in these ridiculous times

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Image: @atomly/Twitter

Dear Thug Heaven Artists,

I just have to thank you for your contribution to my Zoom background game. It’s been a very long nine months, and I’m completely sick of video meetings — but if there’s one thing that’s gotten me by, it’s the sheer ridiculousness of y’all’s craft.

Listen, I’ll be the last one screaming on the hilltops about the disservice 21st-century skinfolk have done to General Harriet thee Tubman. Everyone from Nicki Minaj — who compared herself to Tubman a couple of years back — to OneUnited Bank dropping its Harriet Tubman debit card with a Skeletor-lookin’ Tubman throwing up the “Wakanda forever” salute just before Covid struck. Needless to say, we’ve done that woman no favors recently. …

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Who Americans must become to stop the coming upheaval

The Postponed is a daily dispatch during the post-electoral purgatory between the results and the inauguration

Day 8

Okay so yesterday, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo basically confirmed that the Republican Party is preparing for a “smooth transition into Trump’s second term,” delegitimize the election and stage an upheaval of the “democratic process.” Democrats have largely remained mum on the topic outside of laughter and silly high school hijinks. For instance, while talking to CNN yesterday, Senator Chris Coons bragged about how members of the GOP “Bluntly … they call me to say, ‘Congratulations, please convey my well wishes to the president-elect — but I can’t say that publicly yet,’” Coons said. Some are skeptical this is really happening — giggling at the profound loserishness of it all — and others are very damn sure it’s happening. Of all people, Democrats should be the least surprised by this and not just because Trump has been signaling it for the last few months. Pompeo said it himself, “It took us 37 plus days in an election in 2000, conducted a successful transition then.” So, yeah, nah, this has been happening, staggeringly consistently, for almost thirty years. …

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Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats kneeling, draped with Kente Stoles

It’s time to cool it with the platitudes and develop an ideology.

The Postponed is a daily dispatch during the post-electoral purgatory between the result and the inauguration

Day 7:

We’re a week in. Congrats everyone, it’s great to be here. Let me know if I can top you up on champagne or perhaps you’d like tonight’s cocktail special: a Georgia peach margarita with a dash of white tears? From what I hear the waterworks do wonders for the skin especially in the winter months. It seems as if we’ve got an infinite supply of them but we try to filter them out by their emotional base. Tears of joy are on the sweeter side while their heartbroken flavor give more of a sour head kick. So can I put you down for a double? No? Ah I see, still got some work to do? …


Tirhakah Love

Hot-blooded Southern Futurist • Staff Writer at LEVEL

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