Hulu’s ‘WOKE’ Series Gives Us A Funny Outlook On What Happens When Black Folks Try To Forget They’re Black (Season 1 Review)

by Shaye Wyllie
woke hulu review

You ever wake up and just not wanna be Black? Probably not right? Being Black is dope AF! Our culture, our lingo … we set trends baybay! And I often see my friends on social media saying this time and time again.

Despite the shit we go through (take everything that’s happened this year for instance, or what happened in Lovecraft Country, The Umbrella Academy or even Queen and Slim).

No matter what the time period is, Black folks have ALWAYS been treated like shit, just because of the color of their skin.

Yet, I still haven’t heard a Black person say out loud that they wished they weren’t Black. But let’s be honest for a moment, even if for a few seconds. I know damn well sometimes we subconsciously think it, even if we don’t ever let the words escape our lips.

Being Black comes with baggage that we’d rather not drag along with us.

It adds another layer of stress that wypipo never have to deal with. So yeah, if we could be Black but not BE Black, life would be great.

Oh what we would GIVE to have the culture without the drama, racism, and trauma! (You know like how the white culture vultures live? Rocking all of our swag – horribly if I might add – and never being stopped by the cops, not even when carrying a gun or you know, shooting up a school. *sigh* The life!)

So when Keef, a Black cartoonist, in Hulu’s new WOKE series, tries to just ‘focus on the funny’ in his comics, instead of discussing topics “for the culture”, gets “accidentally” mistaken for a thief at large and has a cop tackle him to the ground, suddenly realizes that he can’t just continue to go about his life ignoring the fact that he’s Black, it’s a reminder to us all that no matter what path you take in life, Black is Black, and you’ll never be able to escape that truth.

No matter what you do, no matter how much money you have, if you’re Black, you’re Black.

Celebrities often face this harsh reality in real life. Like when Jay Pharoah, a famous comedian got stopped by the police a few months ago. Pharoah said one of the cops put their knee on his neck in this People article. You see, even being famous doesn’t erase your Blackness. To white folks, it doesn’t matter HOW much money you make, if you’re Black. Rich or not they don’t care about our asses.

And Keef deals with this very realization in WOKE. Keef went through his whole life thinking if he just kept his head down, made his comics, and didn’t kick up any smoke, he’d never be the one that got stopped by the cops.

Hell, he even tells his roommate and friend Clovis, in the series that he never thought something like this could happen to him.

lamorne morris

Woke — “What Prequels?” – Episode 102 — Keef grapples with the fallout from the previous day’s events while trying to put his life back in order. Keef (Lamorne Morris), shown. (Photo by: Michael Courtney/Hulu)

After the incident, Keef goes down a weird spiral that shows us the emotional coaster ride Black men go through after a traumatic experience and while the reality of WOKE is heartbreaking, the hilarious, foul-mouthed animated objects that attempt to guide Keef on his new life journey provide us with the comedic relief most Black folks rely on to stay sane in a world that’s meant to keep us down.

Okay, but enough of the rambling, here’s my review of Woke, which by the way is a must see if you have Hulu. (And if you don’t have Hulu, I’m gon’ need you to GET Hulu so you can watch this shit.)

Woke Hulu Season 1 Review

woke hulu series

You Gotta Binge WOKE If You’re Still Sleeping On Hulu (And Racism)

Every now and then I think “damn, Hulu really doesn’t have anything for me to watch right now”? I often compare their original series and movies to that of Netflix, but clearly there’s no real comparison between the two.

Netflix is far ahead of Hulu in that rat race, but every now and then Hulu gives us something incredible, like Woke, and they remind me why I keep it around. So if you’ve been sleeping on Hulu, get ready to dust your streaming app off and put it to work again.

Even if it’s just for the next 4 hours, since that’s approximately how long it should take you to binge Woke since the episodes are only about 30 mins long each.

Woke is easily digestible, especially for a series about racism, unlike The Umbrella Academy, which was difficult to watch. This isn’t as intense as most series tackling racism and Black issues, tend to be, which makes the harsh reminders easier to swallow.

Oh and the music makes this series 10x better! So shout out to their music supervisor! The cuts they choose felt very intentional and straight to the point, it was cute.

Of course the casting is amazing as well. Lamorne Morris is easily becoming one of my favorite actors this year. (I just watched him in Death of a Telemarketer during the American Black Film Festival, which I’ll have a review up shortly for, and he was great in that as well.)

Plus this series also stars Sasheer Zamata (who’s amazing in Stella Meghie’s The Weekend film, also currently on Hulu), Blake Anderson and T Murph.

So if you’re looking for a bit of comedic relief this year, Woke is where it’s at! Now, you’ll still get smacked in the face with the racism and cop brutality we often seen on the news these days, but Keith Knight (the creator of Woke) does a great job of animating everyday objects and giving them a voice of reasoning that can’t be ignored, so it won’t hurt as much.

If you’ve ever seen Sausage Party, then Woke is pretty much the Black version of the film, when it comes to animated talking objects, and is definitely just as weird.

woke hulu series season 1 review

Woke — “Black People For RentÓ – Episode 104 — Keef channels his creative energy in a provocative new way. Clovis (T. Murph), Gunther (Blake Anderson) and Keef (Lamorne Morris), shown. (Photo by: Liane Hentscher/Hulu)

And while Woke is funny, there are very serious moments that hit home hard, and remind us how cruel the world can be.

It’s as if Keith Knight wanted to keep reminding us that while we can make light of what’s happening in the world, to get through the dark times, we haven’t forgotten the seriousness of these events. Often times, Black folks are criticized for making fun of things that “aren’t funny”. To an outsider, it seems cruel to make fun of things like cancer, racism, or death.

But when you’re forced to deal with hardships and obstacles daily, you build a certain level of tolerance for mental / emotional pain, and tend to use humor to deflect certain emotions. If we went through life as serious as others wanted us to, we’d probably never make it.

Sometimes finding the humor in a bad situation, is what helps get us through, and that’s exactly what Woke reminds me of.

Because when you watch the scene where the city literally shuts itself down so they can find a god damn Koala Bear that escaped the zoo, you’re gonna have to laugh so you don’t cry. When the hell has the city shut down to find a missing Black girl? Black boy? Never!

Yet here they are halting traffic so a Koala bear can be found. And then to make matters worse, the Koala dies at the hands of a cop and the cop is immediately terminated. Yup.

You read that shit correctly! Terminated.

And if you just cringed, then yeah, that’s the point. Woke points out all the little absurd scenarios white people seem to be oblivious too. The little scenarios that drive us insane because it feels like we’re the only ones that can see how f*cked up things really are.

So when you watch Keef spiraling downwards, falling from the clouds, trying to hold onto anything he can grab, stumbling, and suffering in silence because he’s too ashamed to see a therapist, and too scared to confide in his girlfriend, or roommates, in fear that no one will really understand how he feels. Instead of automatically thinking about how much of a fool he is for keeping his feelings inside, despite being surrounded by people who care about him, offer him a bit of grace.

Because hearing a malt liquor bottle, garbage can, and your favorite Black marker cuss you out, can’t be easy after being assaulted by a cop who doesn’t even offer so much as an apology when he realizes you’re not the criminal he thought you were.

No seriously, imagine how traumatic it must be to hear inanimate objects talk!

Then there’s the “Black people for rent” art piece, that would have been super funny, had it not been for slavery. (Which by the way, was the very point of his art piece in the show.)

So yeah, this show is pretty funny, but it definitely tackles some serious issues in our world today, and I think Keith Knight does a great job showcasing what being Black is really like in 2020.

t murph blake anderson

Woke — “What Prequels?” – Episode 102 — Keef grapples with the fallout from the previous day’s events while trying to put his life back in order. Gunther (Blake Anderson) and Clovis (T. Murph), shown. (Photo by: Michael Courtney/Hulu)

However, while some may disagree on my statements above, one thing I’m sure we can all agree on, is that Keith Knight surely packs a lot into the short 8 episodes of Woke.

There’s a lot to unpack in this Hulu series. From police brutality, to climate change and how humans are now too lazy to actually communicate with other humans, so they order in, instead of visiting stores, to Black men not being able to confide in Black women, to getting robbed while broke, and people caring more about animals than actual humans.

Woke is literally a barney bag, or one of those clown hats, filled with Black issues.

I’ll write another post with all of the topics mentioned in Woke, since this review would go on forever, and ever, if I attempted to discuss them all here.

But I will say that I’m super excited to see a spin on the “starving artist” narrative. Because for once our starving artist isn’t actually starving, and down on his luck.

When we meet Keef, life is great! He’s about to get his big break, his girlfriend has found them a house, and he’s happy.

It isn’t until his run in with the cop, literally, that things begin to fall apart. (Ignore the fact that when we meet Keef, he also lives with two roommates, and eventually he completely blows his shot at that deal of a lifetime.)

But I love being able to see a Black artist thriving, even if it’s short lived.

The fact that this Black character isn’t desperate for change, and didn’t need to hit rock bottom, swimming in depression, to become successful means a lot. We don’t always need to see Black folks struggling!

I also like the fact that he has friends that have his back no matter what! They go through all this shit together! Keef going crazy, blowing a big opportunity to change his life, losing his girlfriend, hell, even weird threesomes! All of it.

They’re right there with each other, and honestly that’s not something I get to see often when it comes to Black men, especially not in the media. Lots of times, Black people are portrayed as those who have to keep to themselves to rise to the top. So it’s nice to see someone with friends on his side.

And it was super cute when Gunther said “now this is my kinda threesome” referring to the three friends watching a movie together.

woke hulu series justice for kubby

Woke — “Prayers for Kubby” – Episode 107 — What should be a quick trip across town instead turns into the bus ride from Hell. , shown. (Photo by: Liane Hentscher/Hulu)

Overall, Woke is a must see for all, especially white folks, and those that are “sleeping” on racism.

I need y’all to see “one of your own” be completely in arms over the dumb shit y’all do. Maybe that’ll help y’all understand that this shit isn’t really a joke.

Although, I’m not getting my hopes up.

However, I would love to be in the room whenf white folks watch Woke to see how they react to it.

But honestly, I just want folks to watch Woke and realize why certain things aren’t okay. Like, oh, I see how that can be weird now. *sigh*

(That’s asking for a lot though.)

So instead, I’ll just ask for everyone that has gotten this far to please watch Woke and take it all in, for what it really is. Don’t let the animations and humor stray you away from the point of this show.

Oh, and if you’d rather not watch everyday objects cuss humans out, or you can’t understand why someone would make light of serious situations to prove a point, then maybe skip this so you can save us the “this isn’t funny” rant. I already saw a review for Woke that clearly proves that this Hulu series isn’t for everyone. Listen, not everyone is going to even GET it! So if you’re one of THOSE people, just keep your negative vibes and comments to yourself. (Unless you’re willing to have an actual conversation about it. Then in that case sound off in the comments below!)

With that all said, now that you’ve finally finished reading my review, will you be watching Woke on Hulu? And if you’ve already seen if, what did you think?

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