Our fellow Black creatives are out here trying to tell the world something. After last night’s brilliant premiere of American Fiction, BGN checked out the comedy series Bria Mack Gets A Life, which captures the joys, burdens, and revelations of being young, gifted, and Black. The Canadian series from Sasha Leigh Henry shows what adulthood is like for an intelligent young Black woman begrudgingly entering the workforce after graduating college. It’s a constant juggling and failing act of being an adult and still possessing those immature qualities and tendencies. Paying your own bills is very much an adult thing. Going on a shopping spree as soon as you get a few coins is very much an immature thing — a struggle some adults still experience.
Reminiscent of Issa Rae’s web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and HBO series Insecure, this new show struck a chord on a personal level. Bria Mack Gets A Life sees Bria, played by Malaika Hennie-Hamadi, navigating the very vanilla and awkward world of finding a job after being away for college. The first three episodes see Bria confronted with a charge from school that needs to be paid before she can get her diploma — been there! With the help of her invisible hype girl/conscience, Black Attack (Hannan Younis), Bria faces off with the registrar’s admin, Gemma (Amalia Williamson), who wants to be an ally for the Black community.
Bria returns home, expecting to have an adult conversation with her mom (Leslie Adlam) about burnout and the need to rest and hang out with friends. Instead, she gets an announcement that her mother is retiring, selling the house, and moving to Florida with her man. “Mama gotta have a life too,” as stated in Baby Boy. Then comes the hunt for funds that Bria needs in order to pay rent somewhere.
Bria Mack Gets A Life is genuinely funny. With commentary about reparations, f-boys, Black Twitter, and the touchy subject of hair, many will be able to relate to the things Bria is going through. It is exciting, yet slightly depressing, to know a young woman from Los Angeles has a lot in common with a young woman from Ontario’s Greater Toronto Area. Black people are out here going through the same struggles regardless of where we live. But isn’t that what makes for great TV or even film? We are from different cultures and different parts of the world but can relate to a show that is wildly accurate to our individual experiences.
Bria Mack Gets A Life is written well with sharp attention to detail. It has a talented young cast that we are excited to see flourish. The series also stars Manuel Rodriguez-Saenz, Marlee Sansom, Preeti Torul, and Robert Bazzocchi. There is a laughable moment when we first meet Bria’s mom’s boyfriend, Rodrigo (Rodriguez-Saenz). I’m not sure if it’s the combination of the makeup and the clothing or just one or the other, but Rodrigo first reminded me of the characters the Wayans brothers portray at the beginning of White Chicks. I honestly thought it was a spoof at first. The similarity is slightly diminished when Rodrigo cuts off his mustache, thinking it makes him look younger. It threw me just a bit.
This series makes everyday life seem interesting, from the drama of submitting 200 job applications in a day to seeing that government tax refund amount slowly diminish in the bank account. It’s one day of your life, yet it is hilarious because it’s true. You see and feel the struggle. Life is a struggle, but those early 20s were rough.
Henry has been described as the Canadian Issa Rae, which would accurately describe where we stand. She is the showrunner, writer, and director for this new series. With a majority crew made of women, from producers to the editors to the cinematographer, it’s always great to see a show about women, starring women, created by women. We also see various female relationships on-screen — mother-daughter, best friends, coworkers, and frenemies, to name a few.
The series does have the look and feel of a very independent project, but that does not negate the story and themes at play. Episode 3 is a little more Sex and the City than the first two episodes. In this respect, the series’ overall tone is uneven. But the show is very insightful. It’s so weird that a show about Black women living everyday lives is still so hard to come by.
Bria Mack Gets A Life is presented by New Metric Media. While it’s a Canadian show, it would be fantastic to see this series available in the States at some point. It’s too good not to share globally. The hope is that the characters and relationships we get an introduction to in these first three episodes are further explored with the same energy and honesty.