by Frankie Fanelli

Twenties is a new show from BET, airing every Wednesday at 10/9 central, that follows twenty-four-year-old Hattie (Jonica T. Gibbs), an aspiring TV comedy writer who’s fallen on hard times and has to learn to lean on her two best friends for help and support, even when she doesn’t want to accept it.

The series’ pilot episode starts out with Hattie and friend with benefits Lorraine (Sheria Irving) who have, as the show’s narrator puts it, “found a new and creative way to screw up” their lives. The show centers around Hattie as she struggles to get her foot in the door of the television industry she so badly wants to work in. Her chance finally presents itself when her best friend Marie (Christina Elmore) gets her an interview to be an assistant for a successful television executive, Ida B. (Sophina Brown), who has built her own TV empire. Though the pair get off to a rocky start, the pilot ends with their relationship beginning to look like a promising mentor-protege one.

The show does a stellar job of shining the spotlight fully on its representation of black and queer women. Hattie is a black gay woman and her two best friends and potential boss are all strong, independent black women. As important as this is, however, the show itself has been a long time coming. Show creator Lena Waithe, who is now 35, has been working on the show since her mid-20s, making Twenties a work in progress of about a decade. When she first tried getting it off the ground, the television industry was in no place to produce a show that featured a strong, black, queer lead character, let alone one that consciously throws all notion of gender-norms to the wind and pridefully refuses to stick to labels. But in today’s day and age, where diversity is celebrated and valued, the show was accepted with much more open arms. There’s an exchange in the pilot episode where Marie says, “We need to support black sh*t (in reference to media),” and Hattie quickly retorts, “No, we should support good sh*t that just happens to be black.” The show makes a pointed effort to highlight all of the hypocrisy, discrimination, superficiality, and predatory activity that is all too common in Hollywood and the entertainment industry today while also working, like much too little media is, to draw attention to the value of representation and supporting art and media put out by queer and POC artists.

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