Previewing the 2022 NAACP Image Awards, Part 2

the NAACP image award, which is a silver statue of a man kneeling and holding up the world
Photo Credit: NAACP

There is so much good TV that it’s actually a harder job for the NAACP Image Awards to select nominees than at perhaps any other time in American history. So – on some level – I’m sympathetic to the sheer bizarre nature of the nominations this year.

But only to a point. There are some flat-out mistakes here, in addition to the egregious omissions, as I mention throughout. But the TV categories are still – on balance – the most exciting.

Before I get to the TV categories, a word on Entertainer of the Year, which should go to Lil Nas X. He deserves it. He was the most important Black artist of 2021 and managed to put out an incredibly thoughtful debut project in the middle of it all. He showed he was more than a gimmick and it was not clear that this would be the case.

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Previewing the 2022 NAACP Image Awards

the NAACP image award, which is a silver statue of a man kneeling and holding up the world
Photo Credit: NAACP

The NAACP Image Awards – like its namesake organization – is a Black American institution. But I think if you asked the average Black person what they think the awards are for and what they mean, you’d get a wide array of answers. Not exactly what you want if you’re trying to make a statement about Black art.

If you look at the history of the NAACP Image Awards, it’s wildly inconsistent and, at times, inexplicable. They didn’t add music categories until 1980 and then proceeded to not bestow any awards during most of the first half of that decade – you know, when Michael Jackson was the biggest star in the world. R. Kelly won in 2001 at the first major round of scrutiny about his rape crimes. On the film side – they largely awarded well-made crowd pleasers through most of the 80s and 90s and then somehow in the new millennium awarded “Crash” and “The Fighting Temptations” and three flat-out terrible films in a row – “The Help,” “For Colored Girls,” and “Red Tails.”

To be fair, NAACP can only pull from what Hollywood makes and we know that Black film output ebbs and flows based on the racist whims of White executives. But 50 years into the game, it would probably behoove the Image Awards to professionalize and give the awards a more critical sheen.

Ostensibly, the NAACP Image Awards are about honoring Black art that uplifts the race – a slightly antiquated turn of phrase that still holds sway in some quarters. But like all things there are very different ideas about how one does this.

To that end, I thought I’d give you my own read on what I think the best of Black Hollywood has given us in 2021. This will be in two posts – one for film and one for television. I have not read nearly enough or listened to millennial/Gen-Z music enough to have an informed critique of those categories.

See my thoughts on which nominees Should Win and which ones I think Will Win after the jump:

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20 Best TV Shows of 2021

This first full year of pandemic was brutal. But you know what wasn’t brutal? Television.

So. Much. Goodness.

We are at a place we’ve never been in history: a critical mass of Black television. And it’s glorious and wondrous and long-overdue. There’s still much work to be done. We haven’t hit a saturation point where we can’t possibly keep up with Black television. But we are finally at a place where we can make informed choices. We no longer have to watch everything in order to ensure we get anything. So yea, this list won’t include any of Tyler Perry’s shows or BMF or the very good, but not quite good enough stuff on AllBlk (formerly Urban Movie Channel).

But as always, this will likely be the blackest list you’ll read. There are still far too few Black television critics and far too many White male critics in love with the same 6 or 7 shows.

But before we get to the full list, let’s discuss a few honorable mentions…

Honorable Mentions

Chucky – Batshit crazy and delightfully surprising nearly the whole way through. I could have done with about three or four flashbacks less than what we got though.

David Makes Man – Not since Killer Landry in Friday Night Lights has a show fallen so far from Season 1 to Season 2. I understand what the show was trying to do. But it was not enjoyable or interesting to watch – except when Akili McDowell and Arlen Escarpeta were onscreen. This was McDowell’s show and it should have stayed his show.

Disney+ MCU Shows – Flawed, but eminently watchable, the non-WandaVision shows were mostly undone by an inability to know how many episodes worth of story each one needed. Falcon and the Winter Soldier needed 10, Loki and Hawkeye probably needed at least one or two more episodes each.

Hacks – I didn’t love this as much as critics. But there’s no denying how great Jean Smart is in the lead role.

Never Have I Ever – I appreciate the show’s doubling down on making the Devi unlikeable. Teens are terrible and Never Have I Ever is clear as hell about that.

On My Block – As delightful as ever, but not sure that Season 4 earned its existence. There was something beautiful about the Season 3 finale, which suggested that pre-teen friendships don’t survive into high school. Still – Brett Gray is a star and should get all the roles.

Pose – Shamelessly manipulative and beautifully acted, Pose‘s final season was designed mostly to get Emmy nominations despite not earning a single moment (because the deeply unwise time jumps robbed us of any ability to see how these characters grew during the 10 years or so the show covers) other than Pray Tell’s death.

Stargirl – Boundlessly light and yet found a way to go to the darkest of places in Season Two.

This Is Us – Long in the tooth, but still incredibly good. Mandy Moore and Justin Hartley should have two or three Emmys by now, but the Emmys are deeply stupid so…

With Love – Snuck in at the end of the year and gave us three winning performances from actors we hadn’t seen be this charming before – Rome Flynn, Mark Indelicato & Emeraude Toubia.

Yellowjackets – I will always watch Christina Ricci. Yellowjackets is her best project in years.

Now let’s jump to the full top 20…

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My 2020 Primetime Emmy Wishlist

Photo Credit: Television Academy

I love television right now. There’s so much great stuff on, from network to cable to streaming that doing an Emmy wishlist is both fun and frustrating.. The kind of stuff I watch never gets nominated so this is my way to show some love to what I think is some of the best work in television.

So without further ado…

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10 Best Late-Era Janet Songs #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay

Janet with an afro sitting in an wicker chair leaning forward so we can see her cleavage
My favorite image of Janet Jackson

Today is #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay. I normally listen to Janet all day and celebrate that way. But I thought I’d join in the online fun. So to celebrate this year, I thought I’d list my top 10 late-era Janet Jackson songs, which I’m defining as anything recorded or released after All For You. I’m doing this partly because commercially and creatively speaking Janet’s work during this period hasn’t really scaled the same heights as her 1986-2001 output. 

But this doesn’t mean that Queen Janet hasn’t dropped some straight fire in the new millennium. She has. But icons always have periods where they are not quite as dominant as they were before. It’s part of what it means to be an icon and have a career spanning decades.

So I’m here to give you just a taste of how dope Janet was capable of being during the last two decades. Check it out after the jump.

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