By LaRey Wright
HBO’s new late night series “Random Acts of Flyness” is an eccentric variety show that plays out like a piece of contemporary art. Music, art, dance, live action and animation come together to shine light on the African-American experience.
Instead of leading the audience with a storyline, the pieces are put together like random thoughts passing through one’s mind, it evokes emotion and starts meaningful conversations.
The stream-of-consciousness directing style is the only random thing about this show. One continuing sketch throughout the series explores an open romantic relationship between three people. While sometimes being a bit obscure, each sketch has a personal, cultural or political meaning.
“Random Acts of Flyness” is predominantly a comedy, leaning heavily on satire and sarcasm to make powerful statements. In one sketch, a woman’s hair is imprisoned for being what her stylists considers bad.
In “Problem 437 of a Thousand Problems That a Black Man Shouldn’t Have to Worry About,” director/creator Terrence Nance playfully animates a moment when a silly mistake could have become deadly.
Hilarious cameos includes Emmy award winner Whoopi Goldberg, Lakeith Stanfield of the FX’s comedy-drama “Atlanta” and “Baby Driver” actor John Hamm , who appears in an infomercial for a product called White Be-Gone, used to cure people of their “white thoughts.”
The show often shifts from light and funny to serious and profound, when it abruptly cuts to real live footage of police brutality and civil rights protests. The second episode features several transgender women speaking candidly about how they view themselves and how they feel about society.
There is also a chilling segment called “Everybody Dies” where Ripa the Reaper cheerily ushers black children into the afterlife while singing a nursery rhyme and explaining to them ,“You might be running from the police. You might be running from a stranger who thinks he is the police. You might be playing with a toy gun. You might be NOT selling cigarettes. Everybody dies!”
This series is like nothing we have seen on television before. It breaks all the rules of traditional directing and storytelling. It is everything that you love about short films rolled into a collage.
It combines animation, documentary, confession, satire, music video and much more to get viewers thinking about white supremacy, sexual fluidity, rape culture and all other aspects of contemporary American life today. The end result is political poetry.