A One Chaunce Media Group Original Production
Directed by Chauncey Jackson/Tamika Porter
Written by Tamika Porter/Chauncey Jackson
Created by Tamika Porter
Yes, I am indeed one of those who do a whole lotta complaining about African-American programming on mainstream television in recent years. The few shows on network TV with black characters that do catch my attention never seem to last long, “Blackish” being a notable exception. Which is why I stopped doing The Happy Dance every time a new show featuring African-American characters was touted as being the next big thing. As for the programming on BET, TV One, etc. don’t even get me started. I do admit to having been severely addicted to Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and Have Nots” on OWN for a couple of years there. Mainly because Tyler Perry apparently grew up on vintage 1970s ABC soap operas because “The Haves and Have Nots” would have been right at home on that network back then sandwiched somewhere in between my beloved “Ryan’s Hope” “All My Children” and “General Hospital.”
But there’s some interesting and intriguing African-American shows available on YouTube. I honestly didn’t know how many, to be honest. Of course, I had watched and loved Issa Rae’s “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” which I liked a lot better than its enhanced version on HBO, “Insecure” but that’s another review. We’re talking about HAVE A NICE DAY right now.
HAVE A NICE DAY introduces us to five characters, all African-American, true, but they’re all separate, distinct individuals that cannot be confused for each other and that right there got me hooked on seeing how their stories would intersect because I couldn’t imagine how these five people would ever meet.
Kristen Maddox (Jasmine Spivey) is in a troubled relationship with her alcoholic girlfriend who has more interest in spending the day drinking with her friends than going back to school or finding a job. Riley Auburn (Desmond Cosby) unexpectedly got downsized from a really good paying job in media/communications. It’s the best running gag in the series that everybody just assumes that Riley got himself fired. Layla Covington (Endie Lee) is going through an unnervingly vicious and expensive divorce from her husband Matthew J. Curtis III (Kenneth Nance, Jr.) who is a vile character of such spiritual depravity that he might have been created by Charles Dickens himself. If you watch the series, keep your eyes on him when he’s on screen. It would be worth having a whole episode told from his point of view because by the time I’d gotten to the eighth episode I was honestly wondering what had happened in this cat’s life to make him so downright deplorable.
The wonderfully named India England (played by Briana Shante in Episodes 1-6 and from then on by Eran Stacia) is a dedicated marijuana fiend who desperately wants to get out of her waitressing job as the only tips she gets are from old white men who find her delightfully full figure most appealing to ogle. Wade Jacoby (Rashun Hill) has just graduated from college with a master’s in Accounting as he loudly and repeatedly tells anyone and everyone within earshot.
The thing that brings all of these characters together is their need for a job and they all find it working at Connect Life, a Customer Service Call Center. Now, my wife worked in Customer Service for Verizon for many years so I’ve heard stories from her about how crazy it can get so I’m hoping we get into that in future episodes. Most of the eight episodes are spent setting up the various characters and their conflicts and so we hear a lot about how our five newbies need to watch out for getting caught up in office politics and romances as the company thinks nothing of firing people quickfastinahurry.
There’s a lot to like here. There’s obviously a lot of talent both in front of and behind the camera. While the production values aren’t lavish, they serve the needs of the story and the locations are varied enough that we’re not looking at the same ones over and over again. The acting ranges from serviceable to outstanding with the previously mentioned Kenneth Nance, Jr. and Monica Anderson as Layla’s mother leading the pack. She’s also another one to keep your eye on when she’s on screen as she shamelessly steals every scene she’s in with her sheer energy. If the series continues and I certainly hope it does, I’d love to see her interact with the other cast members. She’d straighten out Kristen’s girlfriend, I know that.
Speaking of Kristen, the actress who plays her, Jasmine Spivey wonderfully communicates how her character feels about her situation with her lonely, baggy eyes and hair pulled back into a painful ponytail more than any amount of dialog could. Rashun Hill really needs more to do with his character than just go on and on about he’s got a Master’s in Accounting as it gets to the point where even the other characters tell him that he can’t say anything else, then don’t say anything. Riley has a really sweet subplot where he’s romancing church girl Samia (Erica Matthews) and it’s refreshing to see a black couple engaging in an actual courtship instead of tumbling into bed ten minutes after they meet. For some reason, creators of African-American shows (especially those who are African-American themselves) seem to think that unless there’s somebody having sex before every commercial break, nobody will watch their show. Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s nice to see somebody doing something different and that’s always a good thing.
That’s not to say I loved everything about the show. Each episode starts with a recap of what happened in the previous episode. Why? This is on YouTube where one episode follows right behind another. I hardly think viewers are going to forget what happened in the previous episode in the couple of minutes it takes between when one ends and the next starts. And since the episodes are only about 15 to 20 minutes long (I think the longest is 25) the recaps eat up time that could better be spent on storytelling.
So, should you watch HAVE A NICE DAY? I would recommend that you do so. As I said, the episodes are only 15 minutes or so. You won’t burn up a whole day or even half of one checking it out. The characters are interesting to watch, their situations are intriguing and the concept of being set in a Customer Service Call Center is a unique one, rather than in your traditional office setting. I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes.