Well, we are officially eight months into quarantine, and I’ve officially managed to watch at least 20 new movies and shows with (and without) my girlfriend. As you can imagine, much of our binge-watching has consisted of a lot of queer mysteries and gay comedies. And speaking of the number 20, there has been one show in particular that I just cannot stop thinking about (and laughing at), and that show is “Twenties.”
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I’ve just about fallen in love with how genuinely quirky and relatable “Twenties” is. And to make it even better, the series is amazingly produced and gifted to us by the one and only Lena Waithe. If this name sounds familiar to you, it’s because the Chicago native was not only a star of the award-winning Netflix series “Master of None” but also a producer on the hit show “Dear White People” in 2014. That same year, she was even named by Variety as one of the “10 Comics to Watch.”
In “Master of None,” Waithe served us optimum queerness, Blackness, and comedy, and we only get even more of that in “Twenties.” The witty eight-episode BET/Showtime creation is one of the very few shows I’ve come across (if not the only show) that refreshingly and particularly spotlights the lives of Black lesbians in narrative yet is still so universal in concept. The series centers around Hattie (played by Jonica T. Gibbs), a 24-year-old soft stud who lives in Los Angeles with her friends, Marie (played by Christina Elmore) and Nia (played by Gabrielle Graham). And well, like most 20-somethings, Hattie has not quite gotten her life together just yet. In fact, it’s kind of a hot mess. So basically, very relatable.
And trust me, this cinematic masterpiece has too many relatable moments to even get into, because pretty much every second of the show has resonated with me. For now (for the sake of time), I will just share the five moments that have especially stood out to me.
Lena Waithe certainly knew what she was doing when she fashioned this queer gem and created a main character that we can all sincerely see, connect with, and feel. And I have no doubt that by the end of this, you’ll be feeling me feeling Lena Waithe.
Naturally, the show starts off with Hattie being at the rockiest of bottoms. The very first line we hear Hattie utter in the show is, “What the hell?” (which yes, you’ll find yourself saying many times throughout the screening of the first season).
This “WTH” is in reaction to getting evicted from her apartment the morning after spending some *quality* time with her fickle lady friend. When her “friend” drops her off at her complex, she finds her most prized possessions (a vintage Waiting to Exhale t-shirt and Whitney Houston poster) thrown to the curb.
This is no big problem for our protagonist though, because her longtime friends have her back and come to the rescue. Marie offers her a place to stay (on the couch), which is where Hattie stays for the remainder of the first season.
And of course, this “WTH” moment is only the first one on the list and only sets in motion the mood for the rest of the series — which brings us to our next point.
In the first episode, we are also blessed with an uncomfortably funny convo between Hattie and her mom, in which her mom (played by Jackée Harry) asks her about the woman — Lorraine (played by Sheria Irving) — who she’s been seeing. And being misinformed about sexuality, she calls Hattie’s lover “straight.” Hattie quickly corrects her and says that Lorraine is not straight and does not believe in labels, to which her mom responds, “Oh, so she’s like that Janelle Monáe girl?”
And yes, you bet this moment right here most definitely set off some unpleasant flashbacks for me, which involve my coming out to my mom as bisexual at 18. I can laugh about my first time coming out now that I am a proud 24-year-old lady lover, but before, it was quite frustrating just how comparably ignorant my mom was about sexuality.
When we talk about sexuality and fluidity today, Janelle Monáe is coincidentally the one person that constantly comes up as a point of reference, and well, I can’t even be mad about that, because who doesn’t love a true icon?
While essentially being homeless, Hattie is on the grind to become employed. She finally lands an interview with the famous TV show producer Ida B. (played by Sophina Brown), in which she sets her sights on being Ida’s personal assistant but ultimately ends up losing her dream job to a straight “chipper, white woman.” This moment I felt rather deeply and personally, because I cannot count the number of times I’ve lost an opportunity to a straight, white counterpart myself.
The series does give us hope though when Ida B. offers Hattie a writer’s PA position, which is not necessarily what she wanted, because that means longer hours and less money for her, but she finds a way to make the best of her situation.
Pronoun Mix Up
When Hattie starts her job on-set (presumably a fictionalized Studio City), her gender identity remains a mystery to the public. On her way to work, a tour bus passes by her, in which the tour guide says through a megaphone, “She is very stylish… Or he… Or maybe that’s a they… Unclear.” Of course, Hattie hears none of these remarks, because she is too preoccupied bumping music in her headphones, interpretive dancing, and giving us full music video vibes while on her stroll (which we’ve all embarrassingly done at one point or another in our lives — don’t lie).
Nevertheless, the need for straight, cisgender people to always put a label on gender and try to understand its fluidity never gets too old to chuckle at, because, after all, we all know what happens if we don’t laugh at moments like these. And I personally refuse for crying to be an option for me.
Last but not least, the season finale gives us yet another comical instance and reminds me why sometimes the heteros make me upset-ero. When Marie visits Hattie at work, they get into a conversation where she inevitably asks Hattie the day-old question, “You don’t have a crush on me?”
I could not help but LOL during this scene, because I, along with many other queer women, have encountered this situation with straight women (from friends to strangers) way more times than we would like to. Yes, like Hattie, I got love for women, no doubt, but I sadly can’t say that I have a big lesbian crush on every single woman that walks this Earth.
For now, I’ll only confess my deepest, fondest feelings for Janelle Monáe (besides my girlfriend, of course).