In a wide-ranging interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Kenya Barris has revealed that he and Netflix are planning to make two standalone #blackAF movies rather than proceed with Season 2, which the streamer had already picked up.
The movies will follow Barris and his TV family, including wife Rashida Jones, as they go on vacation, with the idea stemming from the Vacation movies that National Lampoon popularized in the ’80s, which Barris and Jones both grew up loving.
What’s particularly interesting about the two vacation movies is that they’re expected to be set in Brazil and Mexico — both of which are key territories for Netflix, which has truly embraced a global strategy in terms of production. It’s unclear whether Netflix executives approached Barris with that particular idea, but I suppose the more intriguing question is whether it was Barris‘ idea to take #blackAF in the feature direction or the streamer’s (in)famous algorithm. I often wonder whether the streamer’s data can reveal that a TV show would work better as a movie, and vice versa, since a 90-100 minute movie (or two, in this case) and an eight-episode show are very different mental commitments.
I happened to review #blackAF Season 1 for Collider upon its release and likened the show to Curb Your Enthusiasm, calling it “an odd but entertaining mix of traditional family sitcom, talking-head documentary in the vein of The Office, and heavy-handed history lesson.” Netflix viewers appeared to be mixed on the show, which had some high-profile critics including Charlamagne tha God, and part of me wonders if the humor and ideas in #blackAF may appeal more to the movie crowd than those looking for another black-ish or grown-ish. This show is its own thing, and while I would’ve liked a Season 2 on Netflix, a movie with one central storyline may be the smarter way to go with the pieces they already have here, which include Iman Benson as Barris and Jones’ scene-stealing daughter.
The rest of the cast included Genneya Walton, Scarlet Spencer, Justin Claiborne, Ravi Cabot-Conyers and Richard Gardenhire Jr. while guest stars included Tyler Perry, Issa Rae, Ava DuVernay, Tim Story, Will Packer, Lena Waithe, Mike Epps, Nia Long and Collider‘s Up-and-Comer of the Month alumnus Melvin Gregg.
Now, before I let you go, it’s important to keep in mind that Barris recently exited a huge deal he signed with Netflix, leaving for BET Studios, where he has an ownership stake. He claims to still be on good terms with the streamer, and I hope he does, for the sake of these two #blackAF movies, and maybe the money Netflix saved on its deal with Barris was applied to luring Steven Spielberg‘s Amblin Partners or landing Jerry Seinfeld‘s directorial debut. All I know is that Jones is fabulous as Joya on this show, and she deserved some Emmy love last year. That she hasn’t been nominated yet as an actress is #whackAF to me because she is comedy gold here, just as she has been for a while now.