Jun 11, 2021
By Kaveh Jalinous
Blindspotting, based off of the critically acclaimed 2018 film of the same name, is an entertaining and thought-provoking character study that feels light and deep at the same time.
Set six months after the events of the film, the series follows Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones), the long-time “ride or die” girlfriend of Miles (Rafael Casal). After coming home only to find a swarm of cop cars surrounding her house, arresting Miles for a variety of different charges, her options are slim. Because they believe his sentence won’t be too long, Miles and Ashley decide that she and their son Sean (Ziggy Baitinger) will temporarily move in with Miles’ mother (Helen Hunt) and half-sister (Jaylen Barron). A chaotic dynamic is quickly set, as Ashley tries to balance her job at a hotel, deal with Miles’ family, and shield her son from finding out both where his dad is and how long he’ll be gone.
Similar to the original film, Blindspotting is a heavy series. Right from the opening arrest scene, where viewers are thrown directly into the action, Blindspotting forces you to think critically about every line of dialogue, every character’s action, and every artistic decision.
The series is conceived and written by Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs and his longtime friend and actor Rafael Casal (the two also wrote the 2018 film). While the script takes some big plot swings—some which work, some which don’t—the duo’s writing often shines within various small yet important artistic quirks. Examples include Ashley’s constant fourth wall breaks, where she raps about her innermost struggles and thoughts directly to the viewer, or the interludes between big scenes where background actors dance around the set. The series would still work without these things, but the added attention in making each scene or transition memorable gives the show an additional aura of authenticity.
Blindspotting plays like a classic television sitcom. Ashley’s attempts to piece her life back together is the narrative thread connecting episodes. Each of the first four episodes has a central plot line or idea that opens at the start and is resolved by the end credits. The sitcom approach not only makes the series lighter to digest, but also works as a vehicle to communicate themes both directly and indirectly, making the series even more unique.
Blindspotting has some incredible performances. In the central role, Hamilton alum Jones absolutely shines. Her performance is captivating from the series’ first second. Her powerful presence is always able to fill the series with life, even when a particular plot line isn’t completely working. Hunt and Barron are great as well in their supporting roles. The magic of Blindspotting though is the character’s (and performer’s) chemistry with one another. Although the first few episodes have their fair share of rough moments, as tensions between the three principal characters run incredibly high, it’s always interesting and rewarding to see these three actresses interact with each other. Once viewers settle into the series’ dynamic, it becomes nearly impossible to turn away from the screen to watch not only how the plot unfolds, but how it is given more life by the performances.
The 30-minute episodic structure makes the series feel less powerful than the film it is based off of. Even so, Blindspotting is a welcome return to form for not only the stellar cast, but also for Diggs and Casal’s consistently encapsulating, dynamic and affecting screenwriting style. (www.starz.com/us/en/series/blindspotting/62263)
Author rating: 7/10
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