Hulu’s new comedy series “Woke” premiered its first season last week. The main character, Keef Knight (Lamorne Morris), is a Black cartoonist who is on his way to major success when he has a run-in with the San Francisco police that changes his outlook on life. It forces him to deal with voices and ideas that challenge his thinking.
In the pilot episode, Knight was putting up flyers for his appearance at golden con when he all of a sudden was surrounded by police with guns drawn. Knight has a stapler in his hand and police mistake it for a weapon, and they tackle him down to the ground.
Gunther (Keef’s white roommate) sees what’s happening and approaches the police to try and help his friend. “Don’t you touch me, I’ll have your badge buddy,” Gunther said. While speaking with Gunther the police put their guns away and realize that they mistook Knight for a mugger.
The producers of this show did an exceptional job with this scene because it perfectly demonstrated what it looks like to be a Black man in today’s society. They can simply be walking down the street and be mistaken as a criminal just because they “fit the description” and have guns immediately drawn on them by police. Whereas when white people come in contact with police, guns are put away and they try to de-escalate the situation.
After the incident with the police, Knight begins to hear voices from objects around him. While in the corner store he hears two cans of beer start to talk to him. “Did you know that malt liquor makes Black people impervious to bullets?” they said.
Knight’s second roommate describes what he’s experiencing as being “woke.”
“You worked hard not to be that brother, didn’t you ?” Clovis said. “Then the police showed up and what, they showed you how they feel.”
Clovis’ reaction to what happened to his roommate is exactly how some Black men feel when other people come to the realization that systematic racism is a real thing. People try to look past it and don’t take it seriously until it happens to them.
The show was inspired and co-created by Keith Knight, a Harvey Award winning cartoonist. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Knight talked about the purpose of the show.
“The show is an extension of my sensibilities and my comics,” Knight said. “I love addressing complex issues with metaphor and with humor, trying to distill it down in simple ways so people can understand it in a way that they may not have understood it before.”
Overall, season one perfectly portrayed the obstacles that Black people might face when tying to make it in a predominantly white industry. It’s important for filmmakers and producers in Hollywood to showcase the difficulties that Black people face on a day to day basis but it’s sad that it has to be done through comedy for others to understand.