Boomerang 1x01 "Pilot" & 1x02 "Game Night" Review
If you’re Black and Millennial-ish, then you’ve at least heard of Boomerang, the 1992 Eddie Murphy-led romcom that propelled Halle Berry into the public eye. The movie featured Murphy as a high-powered ad executive determined to avoid commitment, Marcus Graham, who winds up falling for Halle Berry’s sweet, unassuming Angela Lewis. I’m always a bit wary of reboots, revivals, reimaginings — whatever you prefer to call them — because it’s almost impossible to live up to the expectations set by the source material, but I’ll admit to being unreasonably excited when I read that both Lena Waithe (The Chi) and Halle Berry were attached to the project.
Like a lot of young Black people I tuned in to the show’s double episode premiere on Tuesday, February 12th, and I was not disappointed. Of the many, many things that were done right, the first is the casting of Tetona Jackson (All Night) as Simone Graham, daughter of Marcus and Angela. It’s not often that the Black female protagonist of a show or movie is brown or dark in complexion and Tetona is! It was a delight to see her leading the show and her talent is undeniable, especially when paired with Tequan Richmond’s (Everybody Hates Chris) Bryson. The two have chemistry, something the show is evidently going to explore at some point, but the first two episodes were all about setting the stage.
As the episode begins, we’re immediately given access to the creation of a drink commercial led by an aging ad executive (Victoria), whose marketing plan (featuring 90’s era clothes and haircuts) isn’t meshing well with the Millennials in the room. We don’t know just how long Simone and Bryson have been working for Graham Advertising, but it’s been just long enough for Simone to be fed up with their practices and eager to find success on her own. After her advice is ignored, Simone quits, ignoring a call from her father and driving off to go think up a plan to start her own ad agency. It’s not long before Bryson proves himself as innovative enough to garner attention from clients, but unfortunately highly susceptible to a certain someone’s charm-allowing his vision to be overridden by hers.
That leads me to the second thing that I felt was done well, the swapping of “traditional” gender roles evidenced in the first two episodes. While Bryson is a bit of a romantic, clearly harboring a heavy crush on Simone since childhood, Simone is driven, almost hard-nosed and clearly inherited some of dear old dad’s playa genes, using her charm to snag everything from a late-night booty call to a paycheck for herself and her first client and friend, Tia (Lala Milan of Instagram fame). The interaction between all of our central characters is fun to watch as we enter Episode 2 (“Game Night”) and get a better idea of who’s forming the “Living Single” type friend group.
We learn more about the aforementioned Tia trying to make her way as an exotic dancer who also brings attention to the plight of the people, performing with popular movements (think #MeToo) painted across her body; Crystal (Brittany Inge, Maid to Order), who works at the Graham Agency with Bryson and had a previous romantic relationship with new pastor David (RJ Walker, Atlanta), who is also one of Bryson’s good friends and Ari (Leland Martin, A Cinderella Christmas), a web series director who isn’t a fan of his work being described as, well, a web series. It was a brilliant idea to pursue a bottle episode of sorts for the introduction to the core group of the show and I’m more than excited to see how the group continue to play off each other as we watch each week.
Another thing I loved? The super casual reveal of Ari’s sexuality. If there’s one thing I really love about Lena Waithe (and if you know me — you know there are many), it’s her dedication to showcasing Black people in all of our realities, whatever those realities may be. Ari’s reality is that he’s bisexual (or at least sexually fluid) and it’s simply a quick mention during “Game Night” with texts between he and Simone. Simone is into Ari’s friend Dallas and when she asks what’s up, Ari is quick to claim Dallas, stating that his previous girlfriend was “last week” and using several flame emojis (I think I saw an eggplant in there, too!). The casualness of the situation goes miles towards helping to normalize what LGBTQA relationships look like and, more importantly, it helps to provide validation and visibility to a generation of Black queer people looking for themselves in the media they consume. I also have my fingers crossed that Tia joins Ari soon enough based on a certain scene.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of Boomerang thus far has been that — despite its status as a sequel of sorts — it doesn’t rely on its predecessor. Obviously, the name of the show and the ad agency are directly related to the film, as are the heavy 90s influences in the commercial we see in the pilot episode and some great 90s hits interspersed throughout, but at its core this imagining of the show is about the common experiences of Black millennials everywhere: trying to find our footing in a world not created for us, but one that heavily draws on us. I’m excited to see more from this show so I’ll be tuning in every Tuesday at 10/9c on BET, I hope to see you there!
Some of my favorite quotes of the night:
“Being young, gifted and black is cool, but it’s exhausting.”
“You know I hate that word. My therapist says it’s a trigger.”
“Y’all, dick ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
Boomerang airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on BET.