Small screen: Issa Rae’s ratings insecure; Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan returning to TV
Issa Rae may have charmed all her viewers with disarming awkwardness, but the star should still be insecure about its ratings. After its delightful first two installments screened to a small audience, the show’s future is looking a little less secure. Meanwhile, Tracy Morgan is stepping back to television and Chris Rock is returning to the stand-up mic stand – in a bigger way than you expect. For these stories and more, read on:
Fall premiers: Transitioning from YouTube to HBO was a big step for Issa Rae. The upgrade in shows is immediately apparent; whereas in her web series The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl she played an introspective, unsure woman in her 20s, in Insecure she plays Issa Dee, a woman on the verge of 30 who knows what she wants out of life – she just has no idea how to get it. The show begins on her 29th birthday, when Issa is presenting her classroom outreach company We Got Y’all to a class of sixth graders who promptly ignore the presentation and ask about Issa’s personal life instead. Did she always want to work at this job? (No.) Is she married yet? (No.) And why is her hair so short? (Let’s be real, Rae rocks it.)
This prompts Issa to make some changes in her life, and first on the docket is her dead-end boyfriend, Lawrence (Jay Ellis). After he forgets her birthday, she takes her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji) clubbing, telling Molly it’s to get her back on the dating scene, but really Issa wants to meet an old flame who’s been sending her suggestive messages. Issa won’t stop until she gets what she wants now, even if that entails getting up at the club’s open mic and free styling about broken female genitalia. Just like the web series, Rae’s stories tend to take quirky and bizarre turns, almost always for the better.
The show’s grown from its web series counterpart in many ways, though, aside the obvious production quality. Rae can truly shine with a half-hour run time, as opposed to the web series’ 10-minute bites. The humor is also more grounded in reality, but excels with the same snappy sass of the web series. Rae and Orji seem like they’ve been real best friends for years, and their banter crackles with laugh-a-second jokes.
The show is currently two episodes deep into its eight-episode run, which may be all the show gets, unfortunately. Ratings were pretty quiet for its premier, earning a 0.1 rating for adults 18-49 and a total of 371,000 million viewers. That’s not a good start ratings-wise, albeit it was stacked up against the second presidential debate. Whether this is it for Insecure or not, it was a joy watching Rae transition from YouTube to television, which was anything but awkward.
Cable: Tracy Morgan is returning to series television. The 30 Rock veteran will take the lead role in TBS’s upcoming comedy from Jordan Peele (Key & Peele) and John Carcieri (Vice Principals). The series will follow Morgan’s character leaving jail after a 15-year sentence and finding his entire world flipped upside. Still untitled, the single-camera comedy was picked up for ten episodes and will be executive produced by Morgan, Peele and Carcieri.
Murder in the First may be investigating its own death soon. TNT cancelled the crime drama starring Taye Diggs after three seasons. The show tackled one crime a season anthology style, adding a bit of variety to the network. The series went out on a high note, drawing 1.6 million viewers for its third season finale and now series finale, which aired September 4.
Online: Netflix is ready to rock. After an eight-year absence, Chris Rock will return to the stand-up mic, securing a whopping deal for two comedy specials with Netflix. The multiple Emmy Award-winning comedian is cashing a paycheck of $20 million per special, setting a record for stand-up comics. His first show will tape in 2017 and will be followed by a new world tour. Rock has dabbled in a variety of other positions in his eight-year absence, such as hosting the Oscars and directing and producing other comedy specials for HBO and Netflix.
YouTube Red, which is apparently a thing, has announced a new show that will be executive produced by Dwayne Johnson. Tentatively titled Lifeline, the show will follow an insurance company that sends its agents 33 days into the future to prevent the deaths of their clients. A burgeoning platform, the network has also picked up a Step Up series adaptation, and a show about a time traveling teenage girl titled Impulse.
Network: Who needs Santa Claus when you have Terry Crews? The Brooklyn 999 star will get his own week-long reality Christmas special titled Terry Crews Saves Christmas premiering December 20. Crews will give advice on how to do the holidays right, from food to decorations, across the series’ five episodes. So, that’s pretty cool.