A Black Lady Sketch Show

Last updated
A Black Lady Sketch Show
A Black Lady Sketch Show title screen.jpg
Genre Sketch comedy
Created by Robin Thede
Written by
Directed by
Starring
Opening theme"Hot Girl" by Megan Thee Stallion (season 1)
"Fine Azz" by KaMillion (season 2)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes12 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Running time26 minutes
Production companiesHBO Entertainment
Hoorae Media
Release
Original network HBO
Original releaseAugust 2, 2019 (2019-08-02) 
present

A Black Lady Sketch Show is an American television sketch comedy show created by Robin Thede for HBO. The show consists of comedic sketches performed by a main cast of Black women comedians that comprise producer and creator Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, and Gabrielle Dennis. Laci Mosley and Skye Townsend joined the cast in season 2 and Quinta Brunson starred in season 1. Guest stars include executive producer Issa Rae, Angela Bassett, Laverne Cox, and Nicole Byer.

Contents

A Black Lady Sketch Show premiered with a season of six episodes on August 2, 2019, to "universal acclaim" according to review aggregator Metacritic. The first season received a 2020 TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sketch/Variety Shows. Seasons one and two hold a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. [1]

Though the second season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it premiered April 23, 2021. [2] [3] [4] [5] In May 2021, the series was renewed for a third season. [6]

Cast

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 6August 2, 2019 (2019-08-02)September 6, 2019 (2019-09-06)
2 6 [7] April 23, 2021 (2021-04-23)May 28, 2021 (2021-05-28) [7] [8]

Season 1 (2019)

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title [9] Directed by [9] Written by [9] Original air date [9] U.S. viewers
(millions)
11"Angela Bassett Is the Baddest Bitch" Dime Davis Lauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Brittani Nichols, Amber Ruffin, Rae Sanni and Holly Walker August 2, 2019 (2019-08-02)0.334 [10]

Series premiere. Two women seek an escape from an ominous fog. 1960s soul group Claude and The Boppers perform their hit song "Ice Cream Shop". A world-renowned author and "philosophizer" promotes her latest masterclass. Maya's confession in a support group gets a less-than-supportive response. Trinity, the Invisible Spy, meets a formidable adversary. Drea confronts a mysterious woman stealing her dance moves at a club. Fun and games lead to tension, as Robin, Ashley, Quinta and Gabrielle are stuck in a house after an end-of-the-world event.

Guest Starring: Angela Bassett, Nicole Byer, Laverne Cox, Phil LaMarr, Yvonne Orji, Kelly Rowland, Gina Torres, Amara La Negra
22"Your Boss Knows You Don't Have Eyebrows"Dime DavisLauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Brittani Nichols, Amber Ruffin, Rae Sanni and Holly WalkerAugust 9, 2019 (2019-08-09)0.308 [11]

A perpetually-late-to-work Shayla decides to forgo her morning makeup routine, to her coworker Toni's dismay. Trinity the Invisible Spy hunts down The Recluse, an elusive villain with a surprising identity. An array of average, awkward contestants perform before a panel of judges at the Basic Ball. Security guard Fatimah helps an office worker investigate who stole her missing mug. Robin, Quinta and Gabrielle uncover a shocking truth about Ashley's nighttime ritual.

Guest Starring: Nicole Byer, Loretta Devine, Aja Naomi King, Caldwell Tidicue, Lena Waithe
33"3rd & Bonaparte Is Always in the Shade"Dime DavisLauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Brittani Nichols, Amber Ruffin, Rae Sanni and Holly Walker August 16, 2019 (2019-08-16)0.351 [12]

Asia is shocked by a very public, very unexpected marriage proposal from her new boyfriend DeWayne. New recruits talk about their goals and expectations at a gang orientation. A church service devolves when congregants take to the mic with self-centered motivations. Dr. Haddassah Olayinka Ali-Youngman turns a toast at her sister's wedding into a teachable moment. Gabrielle, Ashley, Quinta and Robin bond while discussing their ideal men and some of their worst dates.

Guest Starring: Essence Atkins, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Jermaine Fowler, Marla Gibbs, David Alan Grier, Jackée Harry, Issa Rae, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Hal Williams, Larry Wilmore, Preacher Lawson, Daniele Gaither
44"Where Are My Background Singers?"Dime DavisLauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Brittani Nichols, Amber Ruffin, Rae Sanni and Holly Walker August 23, 2019 (2019-08-23)0.332 [13]

A divorce party spirals out of control following Eboni's bad mushroom trip. The tragic tale of star-crossed lovers, Rome & Julissa. A 1930's groupie, Feather Atwood, sets her sights on Negro league baseball player Satchel Paige. A frustrated airline passenger seeks a like-minded customer service representative. Denise tries to prevent yet another breakup and its typical, unusual side effect. "Taskmaster," "Insecurity" and "Turnt" help Crystal navigate a possible cat-calling situation. Quinta, Gabrielle, Robin and Ashley lay down odd rules while playing cards to pass the time.

Guest Starring: Patti LaBelle, Phil LaMarr, Tia Mowry, Issa Rae, Natasha Rothwell, Tyler James Williams
55"Why Are Her Pies Wet, Lord?"Dime DavisLauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Brittani Nichols, Amber Ruffin, Rae Sanni and Holly Walker August 30, 2019 (2019-08-30)0.278 [14]

Four friends on a camping trip unknowingly disprove a stereotype. A pastor tries to take back control of his church potluck. A flight attendant struggles to get compliance from newlyweds Chris and Lachel in the exit row. Elementary school students notice a change in their teacher Ms. Miller. Jackie receives a less-than-warm welcome when she returns to her hometown high school. Robin, Quinta, Ashley and Gabrielle discuss their weird turn-ons and stage an intervention.

Guest Starring: Khandi Alexander, Deon Cole, David Alan Grier, Garrett Morris, Yvonne Orji, Issa Rae, Amber Riley
66"Born at Night, But Not Last Night"Dime DavisLauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Brittani Nichols, Amber Ruffin, Rae Sanni and Holly Walker September 6, 2019 (2019-09-06)0.255 [15]

Season One Finale. Two friends come to regret their decision to visit a new black-owned restaurant. A mother and daughter go toe-to-toe in the latest episode of "Get the Belt". "Taskmaster," "Turnt" and "Insecurity" help Krystal through a surprise hot-air balloon ride. Carl and Lori's "special guest" has very specific boundaries. A judge, bailiff, court reporter and attorneys celebrate their first ever all-black lady courtroom. Tensions rise between Ashley, Gabrielle, Quinta and Robin as the reality of their situation sinks in.

Guest Starring: Yvette Nicole Brown, Lil Rel Howery, Phil LaMarr, Marsai Martin, Issa Rae, Amber Riley, Natasha Rothwell, Arjay Smith, Bresha Webb

Season 2 (2021)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date [7] U.S. viewers
(millions)
71"But the Tilapias Are Fine Though, Right?"Lacey Duke & Brittany Scott SmithLauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Shenovia Large, Rae Sanni, Kristin Layne Tucker, Holly Walker, Kindsey Young, Charla LauristonApril 23, 2021 (2021-04-23)0.215 [16]

Season 2 premiere. Dr. Haddassah Olayinka Ali-Youngman, Pre-PhD opines on the COVID-19 pandemic, national racial reckoning, and other social issues. Robin wakes up and realizes she is in a different apocalyptic scenario but this time with Ashley, Gabrielle, Skye, and Laci. Salina, informed by psychic Sabrina, goes to confront her old friend Ladonna, who ruined her life due to a 1996 game of MASH. An accidental joint bank robbery goes wrong. A woman's husband surprises her by taking her to her favorite restaurant, a male strip club. The all-Black lady courtroom is disrupted by a Black man lawyer.

Guest starring: Omarion, Kim Coles, Laz Alonso, Tone Bell, Issa Rae, Yvette Nicole Brown
82"So You Just Out Here Chloroforming Anybody?"Lacey Duke & Brittany Scott SmithLauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Shenovia Large, Rae Sanni, Kristin Layne Tucker, Holly Walker, Kindsey Young, Charla LauristonApril 30, 2021 (2021-04-30)0.205 [17]

The Invisible Spy goes on a blind date. Robin, Skye, Gabrielle, Laci, and Ashley explore the warehouse where they've taken cover during the apocalypse. A group of women on a girls' trip are approached by a woman who claims to know them. A market research meeting with a Black women focus group proves difficult. A historian traces the origins of CP Time to a pair of 19th century Black ladies' encounter with zombies. An enthusiastic cycling instructor leads a class for recently-single women. Bryanni steps up her twerk game to impress Deshawn at the club.

Guest starring: Lance Gross, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Ayesha Curry, Wunmi Mosaku, Erica Ash, Amber Riley, Miguel
93"Sister, May I Call You Oshun?"Lacey Duke & Brittany Scott SmithLauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Shenovia Large, Rae Sanni, Kristin Layne Tucker, Holly Walker, Kindsey Young, Charla LauristonMay 7, 2021 (2021-05-07)0.247 [18]

Dr. Haddassah Olayinka Ali-Youngman hosts Gabrielle Union on her show Black Table Talk to discuss women in the workplace. Robin becomes suspicious of Skye and the amenities in the warehouse. Chris mourns his divorce at his sister's gender reveal party. Three women complain about their seats at the Last Supper of Jesus and his apostles. The ladies discover a cache of money and passports in the warehouse. LeeLee tries to hide the state of her hair for an impromptu booty call. Portia Coché takes offense when the take-out cashier only includes a single set of plasticware with her order.

Guest starring: Gabrielle Union, Richard T. Jones, Broderick Hunter, Jesse Williams
104"My Booty Look Juicy, Don’t It?"Lacey Duke & Brittany Scott SmithLauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Shenovia Large, Rae Sanni, Kristin Layne Tucker, Holly Walker, Kindsey Young, Charla LauristonMay 14, 2021 (2021-05-14)N/A
A woman lays down to sleep but realizes she has an intruder. The Coral Reefs gang goes on a meditation retreat. Reesa's 35th birthday celebration is interrupted by the Fairy Aunt Mother. Skye confesses that there is a communication system in the warehouse. Ally's friends hold an intervention for her overly-supportive behavior. Concert-goers enjoy singer Nona Love's performance.
115"If I'm Paying These Chili's Prices, You Cannot Taste My Steak!"Lacey Duke & Brittany Scott SmithLauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Shenovia Large, Rae Sanni, Kristin Layne Tucker, Holly Walker, Kindsey Young, Charla LauristonMay 21, 2021 (2021-05-21)N/A

Using the phrase "I wish a nigga would" has unexpected consequences. The TV competition Sit Down Somewhere Classic (1982) follows high school freshman Ceecee trying to find a place to sit in the lunchroom. A manicurist tries to up-sell her client. Upon the realization that everyone on Earth has died in the apocalypse, the ladies hold a Presidential debate. Inspirationalist Karlie Chanel holds a motivational speaking seminar. The subject of a meme gets revenge on the person who made the Tweet go viral. The Wigzard of Oz salon offers a high-quality experience to its clients.

Guest starring: Affion Crockett, Skai Jackson, Elise Neal
126"Way to Ruin the Party, Soya!"Lacey Duke & Brittany Scott SmithLauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Shenovia Large, Rae Sanni, Kristin Layne Tucker, Holly Walker, Kindsey Young, Charla LauristonMay 28, 2021 (2021-05-28)N/A

Workplace compliments end in a fire. Skye tries to convince the other ladies not to leave the warehouse after a heated argument. Olivia attends a post-date press conference. Two thick women at a party deal with wearing the same outfit. A genie appears to mark the occasion of a group of Black people perfectly splitting the check. Two teams debate which role should have won Denzel Washington's first Best Actor Academy Award. The 2021 Brown Family Reunion includes judgmental aunties and classic line dances.

Guest starring: Tony Baker, Kevin Fredericks, Phil Morris, Amber Riley, Danielle Pinnock, Reagan Gomez, Tyler James Williams, Kim Wayans, Algee Smith

Production

Development

Official season 2 promotional poster. ABLSS-season2.png
Official season 2 promotional poster.

In the summer of 2018, Robin Thede invited her close friends and fellow comedians Quinta Brunson, Ashley Nicole Black, and Gabrielle Dennis to help her develop a comedy series. [19] Thede then pitched the series to HBO as a way to address the dearth of Black women's representation in the American comedic landscape. Thede was encouraged by HBO executives to push boundaries and take risks with the show. [19]

The show was originally titled The Black Lady Sketch Show but the name was changed to communicate to audiences that the series is a single representation of Black women in comedy. [19] The show is thought to be the first sketch comedy series written, produced by, and starring Black women. [20]

On January 28, 2019, it was announced that HBO had ordered a half-hour sketch show, A Black Lady Sketch Show, written and created by Robin Thede. [21] Issa Rae is the co-executive producer with Thede through Issa Rae Productions, known as Hoorae as of 2021. [22] [23] The season one director is Dime Davis. [24] Season two was directed by Lacey Duke and Brittany Scott Smith. [23]

On August 27, 2019, HBO announced that A Black Lady Sketch Show had been renewed for a second season. [2] On May 24, 2021, HBO renewed the series for a third season. [6]

Casting

On May 24, 2019, it was announced that the show would star Thede along with comediennes Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis, and Quinta Brunson. [20] Angela Bassett, Gina Torres, and Marsai Martin were announced as three guest stars. [20]

On March 23, 2021, it was announced that Brunson would not appear in season 2 due to scheduling conflicts. [23] Additional changes for season 2 included the casting of Laci Mosley and Skye Townsend as main cast members. Confirmed guest stars include Gabrielle Union, Jesse Williams, Miguel, Skai Jackson, Laz Alonso, Omarion, Kim Wayans, Ayesha Curry, Lance Gross, and Wunmi Mosaku. [23]

Writers

Lauren Ashley Smith is the show's head writer, and additional writers for season one are Brittani Nichols, Rae Sanni, Holly Walker, Amber Ruffin and Akilah Green. [25] [24] Cast members Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis, and Quinta Brunson also write for the show. [22] It is the first television series to have a writer's room entirely composed of Black women. [19] For the second season, Brunson, Ruffin, and Nichols left the writer's room, and Kindsey Young, Shenovia Large, and Kristin Layne Tucker joined as additional writers. [23]

Release

The series premiered on August 2, 2019. [20] [4] Filming of the second season was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but on March 23, 2021 it was announced that the six-episode season would premiere on April 23, 2021 on HBO and HBO Max. [23]

Reception

The first season of A Black Lady Sketch Show received critical acclaim. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season of A Black Lady Sketch Show holds an approval rating of 100%, with an average rating of 8.88/10 based on 20 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Singular, subversive, and simply hilarious, A Black Lady Sketch Show finds universal humor in specific spaces to craft quick-witted sketches that perfectly showcase Robin Thede and her talented cast." [26] According to review aggregator Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the first season received an assigned score of 89 out of 100 based on reviews from 7 critics, indicating "universal acclaim." [5] In a review by Ali Barthwell for The A.V. Club , she wrote, "A Black Lady Sketch Show possesses a confidence in its first season that suggests the show is not interested in being chopped up into easily consumable chunks. A Black Lady Sketch Show seems more interested in creating a whimsical, loving world for its leads." [27] Writing for Vulture, Jen Chaney stated: "A Black Lady Sketch Show isn’t just funny. Its sketches are consistently clever and surprising, often concluding with twist endings that add a whole other layer to the jokes that had us rolling a couple of minutes ago." [28]

In 2020, the show became the first Black women-led sketch show to receive a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series. [29] The second season received five Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Variety Sketch Series and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Sketch Season. [30]

The second season also received positive reception. IndieWire journalist Kristen Lopez said that the season "once again delivers hilarity and absurdity in equal measure." [31] Margaret Lyons of the New York Times wrote that the show "has such a fun ear for specifics and lyricism, and the new season grows seamlessly into itself; the show’s recurring characters are back, and Robin Thede, its star and creator, is as dynamic as ever." [32] Danette Chavez of The A.V. Club noted the show "has an air of reinvention" and "retains the cohesion, rapid-fire energy, and mix of culturally specific and universal humor that made the first season uproarious and a joy to watch." [29]

Awards and nominations

YearAwardCategoryNomineeResultRef.
2020
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Variety Sketch Series Robin Thede, Issa Rae, Tony Hernandez, Brooke Posch, Dave Becky, Jonathan Berry,
Lauren Ashley Smith, Dime Davis, Deniese Davis, Montrel McKay, John Skidmore and Erin Owens
Nominated [33]
Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series Dime Davis (for "Born at Night, But Not Last Night")Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Angela Bassett (for "Angela Bassett is the Baddest Bitch")Nominated
Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sketch/Variety Shows A Black Lady Sketch ShowWon [34]
2021
Casting Society of America Live Television Performance, Variety or Sketch ComedyVictoria ThomasWon [35]
Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards Best Broadcast Network or Cable Sketch Series, Variety Series, Talk Show, or Comedy/Variety SpecialA Black Lady Sketch ShowPending [36]
Best Actress in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, ComedyRobin ThedePending
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Variety Sketch SeriesA Black Lady Sketch ShowPending [37]
Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series Lauren Ashley Smith, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Akilah Green, Shenovia Large, Rae Sanni,
Kristin Layne Tucker, Holly Walker and Kindsey Young
Pending
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Yvette Nicole Brown (for "But the Tilapias Are Fine Though, Right?")Pending
Issa Rae (for "My Booty Look Juicy, Don't It?")Pending
Outstanding Picture Editing For Variety Programming Daysha Broadway, Stephanie Filo and Jessica Hernández (for "Sister, May I Call You Oshun?")Pending
Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Variety, Talk or SketchA Black Lady Sketch ShowPending [38]

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