Season 4 of HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show included a plethora of surprises, including new sketches, major guest stars and three new featured players — DaMya Gurley, Tamara Jade, and Angel Laketa Moore. The season also ends with a surprise ending that creator and star Robin Thede says won’t be surprising for keen eyes.
Each episode of season 4 has featured a special segment titled “Actors Behind the Lens Speaking Seriously,” a parody of the well-known talk show, Inside the Actors Studio. In each segment, an “actor” from the previous sketch is interviewed about the sketch they just appeared in. And since this is A Black Lady Sketch Show, the “actors” are broad caricatures of actors, which means their interviews devolve into wild tangents.
Friday’s season finale featured “Behind the Lens” segments that go awry. Series regular Gabrielle Dennis plays No?mie Marceau, a pretentious French actress in crisis who realizes that something isn’t right after starring in a Coral Reefs Gang sketch as the leader Elisa. No?mie laments her lost memory, questioning her identity as Dennis channels several characters she’s previously played on the variety show. Is she Karlie Chanel, a presentationally sunny inspirational speaker? Is she Ellie’s overly concerned friend? Or is she a bad b*tch in need of support?
Surprise — she’s actually one of the many “nubioids” created by Dr. Haddassah Olayinka Ali-Youngman, Pre-PhD (Thede) as part of her Android Biotechnical Lifeform Simulation Strike!
As Hadassah explains, after her “King Supreme” Rahmeek made her give up the presidency she won last season, she became a bona fide “stay-at-home supervillain” and created a line of “super Pan-African androids.” She details her experiment in her “pre-New York Times” bestselling self-published book, “What to Decept When You’re Decepting… and Other Ways Females Can Take Over the World Without Disrespecting Their Kings.”
While Haddassah calls herself a supervillain, Thede told ET she sees it a little differently.
“Well, if you go back to season 1, it’s all there,” she said, coyly. “But she’s only evil if you see her that way. I would call her driven.”
That’s definitely one word for Haddassah’s plans for taking over the world!
The showrunner, executive producer and writer won’t accept sole credit for the show’s quick-witted sketches, emphasizing how collaborative the entire show is behind the scenes. “The writers’ room is so much fun,” she told ET ahead of the season’s premiere. “They come ready with like a hundred ideas on day one and they start pitching the beginning, middle and end of the concept. It’s definitely not me dictating the sketches.”
Thede shared that she purposely includes Black writers with various backgrounds to keep the series fresh and their perspectives diverse. “I like to hire Black women writers who have all sorts of different experiences. Some went to Ivy League schools, some grew up in a hood, some did both, and of all ages as well,” she explained. “And I think that’s really critical because it’s so important to show the breadth of what we can be, right? If I was writing every single sketch, it would just be The Robin Thede Sketch Show, and nobody wants that.”
“Everyone that I’ve put around me is smarter than me, is better than me,” Thede insisted, adding that the only credit she deserves is one for having good taste. “I wanted Hollywood to know that finding talented women of color is not hard. I’m literally just picking and choosing out of an endless selection of talented women of color. My production design team is like Asian women and Latinx women. My editors are all women of color, mostly Black. My writers are all Black women. My cast is all Black women. Every producer who works on the ground, day-to-day, on my show, is a woman of color.”
The writer noted that although the teams are making what they want to see because “we are the audience,” it’s about the viewers at the end of the day. “When you guys get to see it, to see your reaction is like, OK, I made somebody happy. I pulled somebody outta their funk. I gave you 30 minutes of joy in a day that may not have been great otherwise, and you can always go back and watch it and see new things,” she added.
“That’s what I also love about this show, there are layers among layers. I’m excited for the world to see this season and to see how much bigger and broader we get to be,” Thede shared. “There’s music, there’s dance, there’s period pieces, you know, there’s all these things. So I’m excited and I think that the audience has really gone on this journey with us. And even if you’ve never seen the show, you can jump into season 4 and still laugh immediately.”
A Black Lady Sketch Show is available to stream on HBO Max.
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