It's a rare occasion these days when I reach the end of a series and my only complaint is that there isn't more, but that's exactly what happened with Neon's Random Acts of Flyness.
I'd actually seen a couple of episodes back when it first released in the US in 2018, and, thankfully, the full series is now available here on Neon.
I've since watched it through twice, because it's the kind of show you have to watch again and again (and probably again) to see things you missed the first time - and trust me, you will miss things.
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The series, written and directed and produced by Terence Nance, focuses on black stories and experiences and takes a straight-on shot at racism and colonisation. It examines how Hollywood feeds into white supremacy (eg: Did Breaking Bad pave the way for the alt-right?); the random problems black people shouldn't have to think about but do; sexuality within black cultures; and intersectional feminism.
It has widely been described as a "stream of consciousness" sketch show but that doesn't quite do it justice. It's more like if Jordan Peele, Donald Glover and Issa Rae got together with Kendrick Lamar, Solange Knowles and what I call "Pre-K Kanye" (ie. pre-Kardashians), took LSD for three days straight and then turned their resulting dream diaries into a TV series.
On the surface, it seems insane and fragmented and wildly unstructured but it's actually nothing short of a work of art.
Nance splices different styles together in a way which shouldn't make sense but somehow does. He uses everything from vertical phone screen selfie videos to highly-stylised 80s gameshow effects to really crappy animations and video game graphics, with a dash of actual news and historical footage to bring it all back to reality.
Some segments feel like an episode of Black Mirror, others are funny and ridiculous and some just suck to watch.
One, which is a blend of all three, will stick with me forever, in which Ripa the Grim Reaper (played by Tony Award-winner Tonya Pinkins) ushers children into the afterlife in a Suzy Cato type children's show which is equal parts terrifying, tragic and genius.
In it, she sings a horrific song about how everybody dies - to the tune of the ABCs - before ushering children of colour through a door to darkness, and turns her back on their screams. The white children, meanwhile, are sent down the hall to a different room where they have cookies. Throughout the series, we learn Ripa represents the burden black mothers face having to prepare their children for injustice and death - and do it all while still singing them lullabies.
Pinkins isn't the only star to make a cameo; there's also the likes of Whoopi Goldberg and Lakeith Stanfield, while Gillian Jacobs and Jon Hamm represent white voices in the black narrative in a way which will challenge many - particularly Hamm's role as a man trying to sell "White Be Gone" a cure for the affliction of having "white thoughts" like: "Poor Muslims, I would never live in a country that tells women what to wear."
That's part of Random Acts' beauty; while it is rightfully centred on black stories, it also acknowledges that other people of colour face a lot of the same issues.
It looks at how our cultural relationships with food threaten our health when "healthy food" is rejected as "boujee". There's an animated broccoli floret who shows how society fails to nurture young men of colour and still expects them to exceed expectations. Nance himself stars in an ongoing segment about a confrontation with a cop which is only resolved when his "white witness" vouches for him.
The thing about Random Acts of Flyness is that it demands every bit of your attention at all times because it's so fast-paced and nuanced (and by that I mean flat-out nuts) that if you blink you might miss the whole point.
A split-second can contain a wealth of commentary to the point where you almost want to comb through it frame by frame to see what else is hiding in there. Conversations so tonally casual you might otherwise tune them out are actually packed with statistics about racial injustice or the micro-aggressions people of colour face every day.
It is an affirmation of all that people of colour endure, but it's also more than that. It's a reminder that these issues don't always have to be so hard; they can also be examined through a comedic, absurdist lens where "bad hair" goes to prison and black men can fly.