Dear networks, why isn’t TWENTIES on TV?

Writer/producer Lena Waithe is trying to change the game. After working for Nickelodeon and producing hilarious web series like Hello Cupid and Sh*t Black Girls Say, Waithe is aiming to create a space for more black women to tell their stories.

While the Chicago native is busy producing the upcoming feature film, Dear White People, she’s kept up a breakneck pace turning out scripts, web shows, and pilot presentations to get our voices on the air.

Waithe’s latest project, TWENTIES, is a show “about three black girls, in their twenties, who are trying to get their sh*t together” and is being produced by Queen Latifah’s company, Flavor Unit.

With so much talk about Lena Dunham’s breakout hit Girls and its lack of on-screen diversity, TWENTIES just might be what disaffected Black viewers were clamoring for.

Waithe explained her reason for creating the show (which she hopes will get picked up by a network) to Shadow & Act:

“I didn’t write this pilot just because I wasn’t seeing myself on television. I wrote it because it was a story I needed to tell. And usually when a writer sits down with that kind of fire in their belly it always strikes a chord with audiences. TWENTIES is the most personal script I’ve ever written and I don’t think it’s a surprise that it’s also gotten me the most attention. People like it when you tell the truth. And this is mine. But I also think it’s universal. Because who can’t relate to being in your twenties and sucking at life? It’s a magical time when you don’t have to have everything figured out. It’s a ten-year window when you’re free to have awkward sex, unhealthy friendships, and a boss you can’t stand. Usually when you see young black women on television they’re either perfect and pristine, or they’re trying to accidentally get pregnant by a professional athlete. There’s very little middle ground. And the truth is that’s where most of us live. Somewhere in the middle.”

While most up-and-comers usually use web teaser videos to raise money for their projects, Waithe only asks viewers to do one thing: share the video.

“The good news is I don’t want your money. There’s no Kickstarter or IndieGoGo attached to this project,” she told Shadow & Act. “All we want you to do is commit to sharing TWENTIES with twenty of your friends. The more you spread the word the better chance we have of getting it on TV. We’ll keep pitching. You keep sharing. Let’s do this!”

Could ‘TWENTIES’ be the Black women’s answer to ‘Girls’? Check out the four-part pilot presentation & click share to spread the word and get it on TV!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

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  • Nikki

    Definitely potential, but it has to re-visit the development stages. Twenty somethings face deeper situations then a tampon problem. I can see it possibly getting better so I’ll hang in there to see how it goes.

  • Prologue:

    I know that many people are always frustrated and angered over the constant comparisons of Black shows to their alleged White counterparts. “Girlfriends” was first called “The Black Sex and the City,” then “Living Single” was considered “The Black version of ‘Friends.'” (even though LS premiered over a YEAR prior to Friends), as well as other countless others. I hope the comparisons between “Twenties” and “Girls” will be that these broad social issues impact all of us and are not isolated and singular.

    Now to what we were just presented.

    Hattie seems like a bubbly, opinionated young Black girl trying to vlog her way to the top of the new waves of media moguls. She seems to be suffering from the “I know that I’m Black, but I really like these White cultural things so please don’t judge me!” Hattie’s friends are right in the fact that she speaks down to her audience in lieu of engaging them. We then are shown a get together of Hattie and her three friends with two significant others. Out of the couples present, one is interracial (with the White girlfriend being stereo-typically clueless) and the seemingly happy Black couple. Hattie laments about her financial and professional situations; her friends, while empathetic try to give her advice on how to improve her show and her job crisis. Then some woman Hattie and her friends know “likes” the recently posted and the complain about Hattie still harping on her.

    The men leave to install an air conditioner while the ladies deal with the crimson wave. No one has pads on them, but the White girl presents the deus ex machina for the situation, a tampon. Even when being instructed, Hattie’s friend cannot stand the idea of using a tampon, and will have her boyfriend pick some pads up from the store. Hattie goes with her other friend into the bedroom and gives her a gift off of her “registry,” a photo og President Barack Obama. It is a tender, if not unsettling moment until a loud shriek is heard from the other room.

    The next scene jumps ahead to where Hattie is vlogging about becomes completely honest; she has been evicted from her apartment and is now staying with a friend, she’s bad with money and is in love with a heterosexual woman who won’t give her the time of day. This video elicits a better response from the Youtube public.

    While I admire this pilot for showcasing young Black life in the city…it wasn’t without it’s faults. Everything seemed a bit rushed, and especially the eviction. If Hattie just saw the eviction notice, it would take weeks (if not months) for her to have to move out of that apartment. She could appeal the eviction or speak to her landlord. Hattie seems a but bougie and has champagne tastes on a tap water budget. The positive suggestions her friends give fall on deaf ears, I wish they would show her to be more open minded and willing to listen/take criticism. Overall I didn’t really get a good sense of who Hattie or any of her friends were. I just found them to be too plebeian to have a long term vested interest.

    The one thing I really detested was the “Boyfriend on the Down Low” plot line. For me it came completely out of left field and unnecessary. I am so sick and tired of Black gay men on scripted television series being either flamingly gay or utter closet cases. If “Twenties” wants to have a gay character, please just make him a out, proud gay man. This just perpetuates the extinction of an honest, enduring romantic relationship between a Black man and woman. And her friend becomes another bitter Black woman having angst and anger towards Black men in general. The White girlfriend annoyed me to no end. Black actors have complained on end about the stereotypical modern “Stepin Fetchit,” whereas in Black written mediums White characters become modern “Officer Hoppy” from “Sanford & Son.” Often being portrayed as out of touch pariahs in the Black world. I’m assuming that Hattie’s Lesbianism or Bisexuality was kept on the back burner until the 11th hour in case there was worried people would be so shocked or appalled they’d be turned off from the series in general.

    I’m intrigued by the series, it could just use a very, very fine tuning.

    • Marshall

      Preach. I want to support these types of shows – just not this one in-particular. I’m hoping everyone doesn’t jump the bagwagon to get this on air. It’s honestly not that good. Both the acting and the writing need work. I wasn’t impressed.

  • lola289

    Damn…I’m in tears. I watched the 1st part thinking ok whatever, but by part 4…
    I’M HOOKED. I need this in my life. She reminds me of me before my BF.
    Also, I’m sick of everyone thinking blk girls aren’t quirky or Zoe-ish. We come from different cultures and backgrounds, but we still are very similar.

  • RenJennM

    I like it. Definitely has a lot of potential.

  • rashee

    i liked this. answer to girls? no….but nice on its own merits? i’d say so.let’s see more. is the internet and you-tube a black woman’s answer to main stream media though? absolutely!