Networks Don't Think There's An Audience For a Show About Black Teens. Do You?
Last week, writer and producer Lena Waithe debuted her pilot presentation for her latest project, Twenties, to the internet. To Waithe, Twenties is "all about being in your 'twenties', finding yourself, speaking your mind, and making a conscious decision to have healthier relationships. In short, it's a show about three girls who are just trying to get their lives together." The project is already been fully funded and produced under Queen Latifah's production company FLAVOR UNIT, and according to Waithe, a lot of networks have read the script and loved it. There's just one problem: they don't think there's enough of an audience.
Twenties tells the story of three black girls, one of whom is queer, and because of it, Waithe is drawing comparisons to another Lena: Lena Dunham, creator of Girls. Some are calling Twenties black girls' answer to Girls, a show heavily criticized for its lack of on-screen diversity.
However, Waithe says, "I didn't write this pilot just because I wasn't seeing myself on television. I wrote it because it was a story I needed to tell. And usually when a writer sits down with that kind of fire in their belly it always strikes a chord with audiences. Twenties is the most personal script I've ever written and I don't think it's a surprise that it's also gotten me the most attention. People like it when you tell the truth. And this is mine. But I also think it's universal. Because who can't relate to being in your twenties and sucking at life? It's a magical time when you don't have to have everything figured out. It's a ten-year window when you're free to have awkward sex, unhealthy friendships, and a boss you can't stand."
Waithe is no stranger to the Internet's power to launch creative projects. She is the producer of the much-talked about film Dear White People, which has raised $41,000 in crowd-sourced funding. She has also produced the webseries Hello Cupid and Sh*t Black Girls Say, but has explicitly stated that Twenties is not a webseries. She is looking to partner with a network in order to diversify the depiction of black women on television, saying, "Usually when you see young black women on television they're either perfect and pristine, or they're trying to accidentally get pregnant by a professional athlete. There's very little middle ground. And the truth is that's where most of us live — somewhere in the middle."
Waithe does have one request of her viewers: to share the videos. The goal of the Youtube release (separated into four parts) is to prove to that there's an audience for this type of content. So what do you think? Would you watch Twenties?