What mastermind created a Friends parody fittingly set to “Friends” by Whodini, featuring Jerrod Carmichael, Issa Rae, Lil Rel Henry, Tiffany Haddish, Tessa Thompson and Lakeith Stanfield?
Alan Yang. That’s who.
I directed a music video for Jay-Z. It’s called Moonlight. Available on Tidal now and everywhere in a week. pic.twitter.com/UkLfo7g2f2
— Alan Yang (@AlanMYang) August 4, 2017
First of all, before focusing on this being a “black” Friends let’s remember that Friends pretty much exists because of Living Single. Queen Latifah all but confirmed this in an interview with James Corden.
Get ready. There’s way more symbolism to uncover here!
The song “Moonlight” itself is riddled with its own layers to crack. Besides referencing the Oscar-award winning film, “Even when we win, we gon’ lose” also speaks to how some things seem like a big win in the black community but there are still hardships that come with being black in America that aren’t addressed. In this case, the video tackles being black in Hollywood.
With that said, let’s look at the cast for this video.
Issa Rae plays the role of Rachel. From creating a hit Youtube series to her own show on HBO, Issa set out to change the way black people are portrayed in TV and film.
“I just wanted to see my friends and I reflected on television, in the same way that white people are allowed, and which nobody questions,” Issa said in an interview with The Guardian.
Issa has been nominated for several awards since the shows’s first season including a Golden Globe, but was recently snubbed for an Emmy. “Even when we win, we gon’ lose.” However the writer, producer, director, and actress (whew! What doesn’t she do!) says not being nominated just makes her want to work harder.
Also did you catch her shhh-ing Jerrod, before leading him off of the set? In the video, as Jerrod seems to be coming to a realization he’s told to be quiet and led out.
Jerrod Carmichael walking off set, Issa signaling him to Shhh pointing him in the direction of the exit out the Spotlight into the Moonlight
— Pucci no Emilio (@Pooch_Rebel) August 5, 2017
Then there’s also Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Lil Rel Henry and Tiffany Haddish. All successful black actors and actresses.
Don’t think for a second Tessa is one of these “new” faces in Hollywood. She has more than earned her stripes. But for those who aren’t hip to this queen some notable roles include Jackie Cook on Veronica Mars, Bianca in Creed; She’s also starred in Selma, For Colored Girls, Dear White People and quite a few network TV series. Most recently she’s worked on the HBO hit Westworld and is starring in the upcoming Marvel film Thor: Ragnarok.
Lakeith and Lil Rel Henry have become well known for starring in Get Out (which is now the most profitable film of 2017). Lakeith also stars as Darius in Donald Glover’s Golden Globe award-winning TV show Atlanta, and was recently named the “busiest man” in showbiz by Rolling Stone. Lil Rel Henry currently stars in Jerrod Carmichael’s NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show.
Tiffany Haddish, also a part of The Carmichael Show cast, is damn near a household name since appearing in Girls Trip which is still dominating the box-office.
Let’s throw some subtle shade to further help the message of this video sink in.
“Rough Night” has only made $21.8 million as of July 17th.
“Girls Trip” has surpassed that in its 1st weekend.
DIVERSITY IN FILM MATTERS. pic.twitter.com/ltRoqEPsMC
— MoorInfo (@MoorInformation) July 26, 2017
Then of course, there’s the leading man Jerrod Carmichael.
Fans are still upset over The Carmichael Show‘s sudden cancellation after only three seasons. NBC recently made a statement that the show had trouble finding a “stable” audience, despite the show averaging 3.7 million viewers.
How poetic it is to have Jerrod walk off the set of a popular NBC show in the video just as he walked away from his in real life.
Jay having Jerrod Carmichael walk off an NBC sitcom set while his verse about black creatives getting screwed on deals plays had me like pic.twitter.com/whzR4I8md3
— Craig Bro Dude (@CraigSJ) August 4, 2017
The Carmichael Show is known for tackling controversial issues. Prior to the show’s cancellation the network pulled an important episode that discussed mass shootings. The network’s decision was due to shootings in Alexandria, VA and San Francisco, CA that happened just before the episode was set to air.
“I understand a corporation making that decision, but really, to me, what it says is that you don’t think America is smart enough to handle real dialogue and something that reflects… something that feels honest and true and still respects the victims,” Carmichael said in an interview with Chelsea Handler.
Fast forward to NBC making renewal decisions and there were rumors of the network shopping the show around. While NBC took its time handling negotiations, Jerrod took matters into his own hands and announced that he was leaving the show. Shortly after that, the network confirmed the show’s cancellation.
“For three seasons (okay 2.5), I got to make a show that I love with my friends,” he said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was 13. Now, I’m excited to go make other things that I love. Thank you to every person who worked on or watched The Carmichael Show,” Carmichael said in a statement on his decision.
Tidal released two versions of the video. One includes outtakes featuring Hannibal Buress.
The outtakes also take a jab at some of the truths to being black in Hollywood.
For example Lil Rel Henry is seen discussing what seems to be a role in a cartoon in which he’s asked to play a monkey. At first he’s upset at how racist that seems, and then asks how much it pays and decides to accept the part.
Jay Z delivered a visual worth watching several times over with a lot to unpack. The video is still exclusive to Tidal but will be released everywhere within a week.
What did you take away from ‘Moonlight’?