My mother—whom I’ll call Big Ro—is famous for her intense crushes. I’ve seen this woman swoon over Octavia Butler novels, Lucille Clifton poems and everything by jazz pianist Jason Moran. Lately she’s been all about Ta-Nehisi Coates, a non-relative whom she calls “your brother,” as in, “Did you see what your brother wrote about Malcolm and Obama? He is so brilliant!”
Perhaps in protest, I try to keep my crushes on the low. But I am my mother’s child. That’s why I can’t contain my adoration for the Web-only series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and Friends.”
“ABG,” as series creator and star Issa Rae, shorthands it, is everything Tyler Perry’s TV work isn’t. The protagonist, J, is a young, brown-skinned woman from Los Angeles who is (gasp!) socially awkward. At work she silently suffers casual racism, cheap shots about her femininity, colorism, and the advances of a Steve Erkel-esque bugaboo. At home, she writes and spits artless gangsta raps to cope with the loss of an ignorant dude who ultimately dumps her because her short natural haircut makes him “feel gay.” (“No homo,” he says, earnestly.)
The workplace absurdity on “ABG” reminds me of “The Office” at its best. Ninety-seven percent of the time, the show successfully satirizes common -isms. And J’s dangerous wit, her quiet rage, her “proper-talking” on the job, her perverse love of gangsta rap, her insecurity and her nerdiness make her one of the most textured black woman characters I’ve ever seen.
I am officially in love with ABG. You will be too.