This revolutionary show centres an out and proud lead that allows many to feel seen
BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY BET
Throughout her career, Lena Waithe has proven herself time and time again to be a trailblazing visionary whilst also serving up some much needed representation. Twenties quickly became one of my favourite shows before the end credits of the first episode even filled the screen.
For those who haven’t had the joy of watching the series yet, what are you waiting for? UK viewers can watch the first and second season on BBC iPlayer right now. The show is semi-autobiographical and follows aspiring screenwriter, Hattie (Jonica T. Gibbs), a butch Black woman in her 20s, and her two straight best friends, Marie (Christina Elmore) and Nia (Gabrielle Graham). Marie is a television executive and Nia is a yoga teacher and aspiring actor. The three women are given the room to be gloriously messy as they try to figure out all things life, love and the professional world. The magic of friendship between Black women is beautifully depicted in the show and I desperately need more episodes. Luckily, a third season is set to release this December for US viewers, and if season two is anything to go by, UK viewers will hopefully be reunited with the characters in January 2023.
Whilst each episode packs a lot of conversation starters in just 30 minutes, what makes it most revolutionary for me is how it centres a Black queer woman as its lead. Butch visibility onscreen is a rarity, when you add Blackness to the mix, it’s almost non-existent. The comedy genre allows for us to see an abundance of Black queer joy that is very much needed.
Hattie is far from perfect: she isn’t a great house mate, she’s a big dreamer who doesn’t always stay true to her word and she makes assumptions. Throughout the first season she flirts with Idina (Shylo Shaner) they are both clearly interested in each other and Idina is *very* interested in Hattie. However, when Hattie casually dismisses her as a straight girl, Idina calls her out on her preferences and internalised homophobia. It’s conversations like this that make the show so great. Too often, roles for Black actors, especially those who are queer, are limited to the side character who offers up comedic relief. Thankfully Hattie is treated with love and care and given the room to lead the narrative and explore these important topics along the way. She’s a breath of fresh air.
We get to see Hattie navigate the world as an out and proud Black lesbian, whose gender expression causes strangers to question her pronouns. “She’s a mess, but a confident mess” as Jonica T. Gibbs has said on the character. Hattie allows many Black queer viewers to be seen. Both those who identify with the same label, and those who resonate with her experiences. She proves that we are here, we exist and we can take up space as loudly or as messily as we so desire. We deserve love, respect and buckets of joy. A huge thank you to Lena Waithe for creating a character who so many of us have needed for a very long time.
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