Tuesday 23rd December 2014,
Televisual

“Buppies” Review: Drama With A Light Touch

Aymar Jean Christian November 21, 2009 uncategorized 12 Comments

Check out other reviews at Thembi Ford, Shadow and Act. Thank you to Racialicious for reposting this!

I’ve written and spoken a lot about Buppies for this blog and elsewhere, but that’s only because I think it’s a significant development within the history of original web shows.

Buppies is upon us; the BET-distributed, CoverGirl-sponsored scripted web series premieres this Tuesday, Nov. 24th (Hopefully. BET has already pushed back the premiere once to expand its marketing).

The show is a “mad-cap romp” through a day in the life of Quinci, played by Fresh Prince‘s Tatyana Ali, a socialite and publicist enduring lots of drama amidst L.A.’s black upper crust. During this very bad day, she and her friends face issues of sexuality, pregnancy, dating, race, and careers and, most importantly, handle them in fabulous clothes!

Among the many web series by and about people of color released in the past couple of years, Buppies is the highest profile and most heavily marketed. It’s slick and humorous, light and heavy. The production values are great, the acting  and writing where they need to be. In other words, it’s a well-told story and perfectly pitched for this moment when representing race is vital but necessarily contingent.

Buppies,  created by filmmaker Julian Breece and produced by Ali’s HarzaH Entertainment and Aaliyah Williams, will engender comparisons to Sex and the City and has been compared to 1980s primetime soap operas, as I learned in my interview with star Ali. The comparisons make sense, but, being made for the web, the show really has an identity all its own.

Buppies (yes, black yuppies) knows that online most people want either a) comedy with a light touch, b) an instantly engrossing story, or c) well-developed and relatable characters. It mostly gets these right, particularly a) and c). Opening with glitzy montage about Quinci and her friends, inviting the viewer into the rarefied world of the black bourgeois, it promises drama and hijinks.

It more or less delivers. As the show progresses, the lives of its characters devolve into chaos. Secrets are revealed, betrayals are laid bare, and tears are shed. I don’t want to spoil things — why bother, episodes are short — but I will say there should be plenty of surprises to satisfy viewers.

Quinci will face the man who left her. Her uptight, snobbish friend Priscilla (Robin Thede) will lose her aura of perfection. Priscilla’s boyfriend Eliot (Preston Davis) must confront his betrayal, a scandal of a particularly saucy, if familiar, down low nature. Shaka (Ernest Waddell) tries to shake off his day job, pursue his dream of becoming a rapper and learn to embrace his new lover, whom his friends must also strive to accept. All the while Kourtney (Chante Frierson) is snappy and making quips.

Buppies will be airing weekly for, I believe, ten episodes. I’m not sure if I agree with this strategy, even though it’s the standard for original web series. I think I’m starting to prefer a daily release schedule. If people see the narrative quickly, they’ll be more likely to pass it on to friends. And as we all know, successful web content needs to be spreadable.

Either way, I hope Buppies will succeed, because it’s a good story that can encourage advertisers and sponsors to invest in web shows created by and starring people of color.

Enjoy!

 

//

//

Share This Article

About The Author

Aymar Jean Christian is assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University. He writes about media and society for a number of publications. For more information, click the "About" tab at the top of the page.

12 Comments

  1. Respectful Critique November 26, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    I recently logged on to BET.com to check out their new web series “Buppies” and even though I’m excited to finally see a web series featuring people of color, this low budget gem left a whole lot to be desired. The characters were boring, the plot was patently simplistic yet borderline unintelligible, it lacked the basic creative freedom you would expect from a series produced specifically for the web and it was unapologetically (if that’s a word) stereotypical… which I really hoped it wouldn’t be. In short, Tatyana Ali is an excellent actress with great potential if provided the right role, but “Buppies” was an overall disappointment and it is highly unlikely that I will be tuning back in to check out any of the following installments.

  2. Anonymous December 15, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Tatyana Ali is HARVARD educated and starring in this low budget stuff? Good job…way to use that degree! She had an opportunity that few get and her she is on BET.com in some low budget “show”. Why not use the degree to highlight the problems of the Black community and bring BET out of this downward spiral…anything for fame right?

  3. Anonymous December 15, 2009 at 7:54 am

    I agree whole-heartedly.

  4. Shae December 30, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    The show is great and leaves you wanting more. I hope the producers and executives at BET realize they can have a 30 minute series on their hand that would have an audience. It’s like no other show with people of color on television. I want to see more if not a television series for these young actors then more then 3 to 5 minutes skits. We want to see more and learn more about these characters.

  5. Aymar Jean Christian December 30, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Indeed, a lot of people would like longer episodes, but it will take more money!

Leave A Response