Vimeo is doing the work of the Gods. And that is not an understatement. You may have seen Black Girls listed in flimsy articles touting buzz words such as diversity and intersectionality, but this series is more than that. Brown Girls is a down to earth, relatable web-series that follows the lives of two twenty something millennials in Chicago, trying to navigate the perils of adulthood and make a name for themselves. The series, available for streaming on Vimeo, is presented by Open TV, a Chicago-based platform that showcases the work of artists whose identities — as queer, trans, cis-women, and people of color — are often marginalized. Open TV provides a space for the development and consumption of content generally ignored by competitive, commercial TV. The show, released this past February, was co-created by two talented women of color. Chi-Town African American actress, Sam Bailey, directs and produces the series, while poet Fatimah Asghar writes it. Asghar draws on the struggles of immigrant life and her experiences as a South Asian woman to aid in the creation of realistic scenarios and dynamic, three-dimensional characters. Their work is extremely important as, now more than ever, people of color call for more minority voices behind the scenes crafting authentic narratives.
Throughout the series, the girls work through disapproval and criticism from their families, as they claim and defend their sexuality, careers, and general agency in a variety of complex situations and interactions. Leila is a South Asian woman sometimes at war with her first-generation upbringing, as she attempts to define herself and make her own decisions in life. Patricia is a black woman, and recent college dropout, pursuing music full time. Leila is trying to become comfortable with being queer, as Patricia attempts to be more sex-positive while traversing the realms of dating. The duo, like many young adults, are subject to bouts of self-doubt and naivety, and struggle with their identities and a desire for autonomy. Though some are tempted to compare the show to popular series such as Broad city, The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl, and HBO’s Girls, Brown Girls is an entity worth mentioning entirely on its own. This show is one of the most realistic portrayals of young women of color in America. The show is easy to follow, with the characters’ motivation avoiding overdone and unrealistic storylines. The series also manages to avoid Asian and black stereotypes and trite one-dimensional portrayals of prudish and overly coquettish tropes. The girls are who they are, fuck-ups and all, from disastrously failed relationships to accidentally getting fired. The girls are charming, yet messy. They are imperfect, in a natural and relatable way in which it is nearly unprecedented to portray women of color. The personalities and hardships of our protagonists are familiar. You can see them within your roommates, girls at your university, parties, etc. This series is upfront and unashamed in the representation of millennials’ real life experiences such as one night stands, situation-ships, and job insecurity. Brown Girls offers insightful commentary on how we tend to trapeze about on the path to figuring out what truly makes us happy. It is the unabridged representation of young, queer, female minorities.
As a fan of indie content, which I perceive to be more thoughtful and deliberate, I was immediately attracted to this web-series. Comprised of 7 episodes with each episode close to 7 to 15 minutes in duration, I finished it in one night. Fortunately, my expectations held true for Brown Girls, and I am anxiously awaiting the news of a second season. Being so close to both Leila and Patricia’s ages, and struggling with my own concerns about making the right decisions, I found this show highly relatable, intelligent, and humorous. Out of all the shows that have tried to address similar topics of girlhood, race, and sexual orientation, this show feels the rawest to me. Watching this show fills me with a feeling of content and I am excited for its progression. I would caution that there is a lot of sexual content and drug use. However, I recommend this show for people like me trying to figure out who they are, among the trials and tribulations of living in the intersection between women and POC. This is the show for girls of color who want to be loved no matter how imperfect they are. Brown Girls is confident in its insecurity, and its uncanniness serves as its greatest strength.
Author: Brittany Maddox
Editor: Madison Wade