Television

Our Kind of People Serves Up an All-Too-Familiar Class War Soap Opera

Fox drama doesn’t rise—or sink—to the right level for the genre.

|

Our Kind of People. Fox. Tuesday, September 21, 9 p.m.

Two ancient and thoroughly regrettable television themes recur tonight as broadcast TV's anemic fall roll-out of new shows continues. One is the inexplicable CBS affection on dullard police-procedural shows about the FBI. The addition of FBI: International makes three of them on the air at the moment. Advance screener episodes weren't provided to critics, so I can't say with absolute authority that it's a dog—but anytime a network turns down free publicity for one of its shows, it's a strong indicator of canine DNA.

The other elderly chestnut being reroasted tonight is that of costume dramas about the tragic problems of the one-percenters. From Dallas to Downton Abbey, from Succession to Billions, TV keeps trying to expand upon F. Scott Fitzgerald's oh-so-insightful remark, "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me." (Rather less effort has been expended on Ernest Hemingway's rejoinder, "Yes, they have more money.") This has mutated from a trend to an obsession: There've been five versions or spinoffs of Beverly Hills 90210, four of Dynasty, and various incarnations of Upstairs, Downstairs tyrannized the BBC for more than four decades.

Admittedly, some of these expeditions into gilt and glitter have been fun. I watched both The O.C. and the original Gossip Girl to their Jordache-ripping finales. Alas, Fox's new addition to the genre, Our Kind of People, doesn't quite rise (or is it sink?) to that level. Its main appeal is novelty—the show's cast is entirely black. That may win it some audience loyalty, but better plotting and more interesting characters would have been a better approach.

Fox's publicity for the show says it's based on Lawrence Otis' sociological study Our Kind of People: Inside America's Black Upper Class. Actually, a more direct influence was probably ABC's 2011-2015 drama Revenge, in which a trailer-trash teenager infiltrates the idle-rich beach resorts of the Hamptons to wreak bloody havoc on a family she thinks framed her father for a crime that sent him to prison.

The infiltrator in this case is Angela Vaughan (Yaya DaCosta, a veteran of all three of Fox's Chicago-brand cop and medical dramas), who plays an aggressive black hair-care entrepreneur who comes to the posh black beach resort of Oak Bluffs in Martha's Vineyard in hopes of joining an influential business sorority that will help her launch her new products. Vaughan claims her mother used to be a plutocratic summertime regular in the Bluffs, though the ladies know better: The mom was actually a maid with a rap sheet.

That runs Vaughan head-on into the new president of the sorority, corporate ball-buster Leah Franklin-Dupont (Nadine Ellis, BET's Let's Stay Together), who has just ruthlessly ousted her own father from the family business. Put off by Vaughan's naked ambition and correctly sensing that her own family is somehow a target, Franklin-Dupont accelerates into full bitch mode in record time.

There are plenty of annoying distractions in Our Kind of People, particularly the heavy and pointless use of 1970s cop-show camera gimmicks like wipes and split screens. It can also feel more than a little schoolmarmish. Is it really necessary for Vaughan to deliver a lecture on the ethnic importance of hair care ("A black woman's relationship with her hair starts well before she can even walk") directly into the face of Franklin-Dupont—who is herself black? And a lot of Vaughan aphorisms are just plain idiotic, like "A woman who can do her own hair is not dependent on anybody." Try telling that to somebody in the middle of a blood transfusion.

But mostly the problem with Our Kind of People is its silly parlor-game sensibility. A woman with a zillion-dollar new process for black hairdos would rushing it into the marketplace rather than trying to muscle her way into the Cool Girls Club. As Alexis Colby once said when an enemy called her a bitch, "If I am, take a lesson from me. You may need it in life."

NEXT: Vacant Homes Aren't Making Cities Expensive

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. >>Its main appeal is novelty

    have you watched a commercial in the last 14 years?

    1. 14 yrs.? Maybe I’m just of that middle age where I’m not old enough to be a forgetful Boomer and not young enough to be a historically-ignorant Millenial, but when I read the description:

      Alas, Fox’s new addition to the genre, Our Kind of People, doesn’t quite rise (or is it sink?) to that level. Its main appeal is novelty—the show’s cast is entirely black. That may win it some audience loyalty, but better plotting and more interesting characters would have been a better approach.

      The word that comes to my mind is ‘Blaxploitation’.

      1. Look, we’re in this phase now, where a moderately mixed race person shows up on your teevee screen, and everyone goes into paroxysms and fainting spells about how New Ground is Being Broken!

        It’s a fucking insult to every black (or other minority) entertainer that came before them.

        For fuck sakes, I GREW UP ON FLIP WILSON!

        1. Searching for a supplemental source of income? This is the easiest way I have found to earn $5000+ per week over the internet. Work for a few hours per week in your free time and get paid on a regular basis.ADf Only reliable internet connection and computer needed to get started…

          Start today………………… IncomeOpportunities

          1. Start making money this time… Spend more time with your family & relatives by doing jobs that only require you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. XYZ Start bringing up to $65,000 to $70,000 a month. I’ve started this job and earn a handsome income and now I am exchanging it with you, so you can do it too.

            Here is I started.…………… JOBS BOX1

        2. “Don’t you fret about it none, Honey! Da Devil Made Them Do It!”

          1. These are 2 pay checks $78367 and $87367. that i received in last 2 months. I am very happy that i can make thousands in my part time and now i am enjoying my life.NJt Everybody can do this and earn lots of dollars from home in very short time period. Your Success is one step away Click Below Webpage…..

            Just visit this website now………… VISIT HERE

      2. >>Blaxploitation

        of course, but nobody on the short side of GenX will admit The Jeffersons was a show, let alone a top-tenner for years … that shit didn’t happen … neither did Dr. King.

        1. What’s Good Times, chopped liver?

          1. Good Times is … dy-no-mite!

          2. Pam Grier’s probably rolling in her grave.

            1. Pam Grier was the reason I used to pretend I was “sick” so I could stay home from school and watch all the Blaxploitation movies on the Z-list cable channels.

              “Time to go to school!”

              “I just said, ‘up yours, baby'”

            2. Jackie Brown was a fun movie.

      3. I’ll give Glenn the benefit of the doubt and assume he was saying that an all-black cast is all new for the lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous-and-dysfunctional genre.

        1. I’ll give Glenn the benefit of the doubt and assume he was hit in the head with a brick rather than being voluntarily stupid.

          Luke Cage
          Godfather of Harlem
          Claws
          Empire

          Cleopatra Jones
          Truck Turner

    2. Seriously paycheck of $19632 and all i was doing is to copy and paste work online. this home work makes me able to generate more cash daily easily. simple to do work and regular income from this are just superb. Here what i am doing.

      Try now……………… Visit Here

  2. In the most difficult, complicated moments, it is good to receive the warmth of those who love you because it ends up being a spectacular incentive to move forward.
    https://bit.ly/3iLO6bD

  3. Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class.

    If the black upper class looks like the woman in the picture, I’ll watch with knobs on.

    1. I’ll watch with knobs on.

      So, are we seriously not doing phrasing anymore?

    2. To reiterate my point a bit, if hot black women with inferiority complexes and shitty plotlines is your thing, there are better places for that.

  4. Most television shows keep getting worse, as do the advertisements.

    The only difference I’ve noticed during the past year is that blacks (who account for 13% of the US population) now comprise nearly half of all actors on television shows, and more than half of actors on advertisements.

    So how long will this white guilt continue among wealthy woke left wing white elites who still run Hollywood?

    1. Half? I rarely watch tv but when I am around it (well, actually youtube adverts count) I’d estimate 90%. It seems to have backed off a bit lately, but I found it damned funny right after George Floyd. I went over to my sister’s house– they’re all normies that watch network tv, and I noticed that literally every commercial had black people in it. And my first thought was, “So this is the bone the media throws black people. Doesn’t seem insulting at all. here, take this tide commercial, now go away.”

  5. I was hoping for FBI: Space Force but sadly no.

    1. Space Victims Unit

      CSI Milky Way

  6. I have earned $ 18394 last month by W0rking Online from home. I am a full time college student and just doing this Job in my part time for maximum 2 hrs a day using my laptop. This Job is just awesome and regular earning from this easy home Job is much times better than other regular 9 to 5 office Jobs. I suggest you all to join this right now and start earning easily by just follow details on the given WebSite……..
    here ⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢ easy40.com

  7. I have earned $ 18394 last month by W0rking Online from home. I am a full time college student and just doing this Job in my part time for maximum 2 hrs a day using my laptop. This Job is just awesome and regular earning from this easy home Job is much times better than other regular 9 to 5 office Jobs. I suggest you all to join this right now and start earning easily by just follow details on the given Website..
    here ⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢
    easy40.com

  8. One is the inexplicable CBS affection on dullard police-procedural shows about the FBI.

    They’ve got to do something to try and make the FBI look like a competent law enforcement agency as opposed to the Keystone Cops.

    1. My favorite comment:

      “How do you do, fellow Patriots?”

      1. I think mine’s this one:

        “Here, take these guns, rope, zip ties and duct tape and put them in that unmarked crown Victoria over there. Then, touch every part of the car including the steering wheel.”

      2. Here the latest News and information of American TV Serieshttps://celebsbiodate.com

  9. In the not too distant future
    Next Sunday, AD
    There was a guy named Glenn
    Not too different from you and me

    He worked at the Reason Institute
    -Not libertarian, but a weak substitute-
    Their experiment needed a good test case
    So they conked him on the noggin and they shot him into space

    “We’ll force-feed him bad TV shows
    The worst we can find
    We’ll pile them on sadistically
    As we try to break his mind”

    An attitude of irony
    Is his sole form of defense
    And at least he doesn’t have to read
    The trash talk in the comments

    1. Hell have to keep his sanity with the help of his sock friends…
      Sockpupoet roll call
      Sqrlsy…
      Sarc…
      Kill all…
      Whiiiiite miiiike

  10. Here the latest News and information of American TV Series https://celebsbiodate.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.