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Hot Takes: Self Made

Can you IMAGINE!!! being a BLACK WOMAN in the early 1900s taking BUSINESS MEETINGS WITH RICH WHITE MEN!! What a LEGEND!!!!!



1) Yes I am a sour & grumpy old lady, but I will never LOVE ultra-modern sounding songs in period pieces. This is Black people around the turn of the century. I don’t need to hear an 808.

2) As a standalone though, soundtrack kinda slaps. Had to cop a coupla those songs.

3) We were pleasantly and surprisingly entertained! There were a lot of unexpected laughs, but it didn’t feel like jokes were just thrown in for entertainment value. They felt like real conversations that just happened to be funny.

4) Tiffany Haddish is Tiffany Haddish. Either you think she’s funny, or you don’t. OR! Third option! You don’t think she’s ALL THAT funny but she’s such a delightfully positive person, you’re excited for her success even when her dramatic line delivery can be a little clunky. She’s easily the worst actress in the movie, but that’s partly because these folks are doing some good acting.

5) Nobody plays a shitty husband like Blair Underwood, bless his rich dark chocolate heart.

6) Garrett Morris is a blessing to any cast.

7) I don’t know if this production got as much critical (or even social) praise as it needed, especially this early in the year, for it to be an Emmy contender next year, but Octavia Spencer DESERVES! That woman can act her butt off and she can do ANYTHING! A lot of our faves have one lane — that they exquisitely excel in, but one lane nonetheless. Octavia has no lane. She can do comedy, drama, suspense — anything you throw at her, Octavia will embody the character. Watch it just for her alone.

8) That pomade ain’t nothing but petroleum jelly and sulfur. Just so you know. I haven’t looked up it’s effectiveness specifically, but this is true for a lot of beauty products: the thing itself isn’t why you see improvement — it’s the fact that you are taking the time out to do the thing. You bought this product, and now you are setting aside time to care for whatever part of yourself you bought it for. Plus, putting NOTHING in your hair would’ve been better than what Black women had been forced to put in their hair, but Madame CJ’s product itself wouldn’t make your hair grow any faster — it just gave women a better alternative than the terrible things they had used previously.

9) Can you IMAGINE!!! being a BLACK WOMAN in the early 1900s taking BUSINESS MEETINGS WITH RICH WHITE MEN!! What a LEGEND!!!!!

10) I don’t love the villain they painted. I understand it, but they should’ve made her further from the character. I’m about to elaborate, and there will be spoilers so you can stop here.


The light skinned witch in Self Made is Addie Monroe, a woman with a business of her own selling hair care. She’s clearly based on Annie Turnbo Malone, but whereas Addie was terrible to Madame CJ, Annie gave her a job and they worked together for years. And Annie was very successful as well — some say her peak net worth was higher than Madame CJ’s. She reinvested into her community, built schools, and should be studied as an icon in her own right, not serving as the inspiration for an amalgamation of villainous light skinned women used as a plot device to show how colorism would have affected Madame CJ alongside her other struggles.

Piggybacking on that, I’m not sure how I feel about basically portraying Madame CJ’s daughter as a lesbian. What we know for sure is that she facilitated an environment for LGBT people (especially artists) to flourish which directly affected the Harlem Renaissance. Nobody knows if she was actually a lesbian (or bisexual) or if she had relationships with women. I’m fine with artistic liberties in “inspired by…” stories, but declaring an actual historical figure’s sexuality is a little hamfisted to me.

Score: 7/10
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
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On Television

The Real Housewives of New Jersey trailer is out.

Will this be the first Housewives franchise to actually produce a successful COVID Season?



Let’s just suspend belief for a moment and pretend half this cast isn’t Trump Trash because it’s 2021 and if I wanna be a hypocrite and watch rich white Republican ladies on television that’s what I’m gonna do. The new trailer for season 11 is here and y’all. I’m sold! Will this be the first Housewives franchise to actually produce a successful COVID Season?

New Jersey has had highs and lows but I am genuinely excited for this new season so let’s just run it down real quick in order of Cast Importance (To Me):

6) Jackie

I like Jackie, so she’s not bottom of the barrel because she’s awful, but she’s still relatively new and I don’t know exactly what she’s bringing to this new season other than tears and (more?) lip fillers. Are we to believe that her husband is hooking up behind her back at the gym? I don’t believe it for one second, but I do believe someone like Teresa might hear that rumor somewhere and then bring it to the show because she hates Jackie. And Teresa is by far the dumbest Housewife ever cast on any franchise. She can barely tell the difference between a rock and a potato, so I know she’s not smart enough to separate fact from fiction.

5) Margaret

What ingredients does Marge bring to the New Jersey casserole without Danielle as her arch nemesis? I’m intrigued by this fight in the trailer where she’s yelling at her husband, but I can’t imagine what actual sin would be committed by Marge’s Joe (not to be confused with Teresa’s Ex Joe, or Melissa’s Joe — dear god can we get some new names on The Joe Show?). From what I can tell, and admittedly I do not pay super close attention to anything in New Jersey, Joe seems to be the Holy Trinity of Boring Husbands — no personality, no job, and no sneaking around behind Marge’s back — so I’m almost positive that scene is just a blip in the context of the rest of the season.

4) Dolores

New Jersey’s Favorite Undercover Mulattress is back because Teresa has to have a ride or die in the cast or the show won’t work. Thankfully, that means her ex-husband Frank is back, who I love and adore and would let [censored for family audiences]. Dolores has recently been pretending she has value to the cast outside of Teresa, so I’m mildly interested to find out why she’s throwing everybody out of her house. However, I’m still more interested in her Ancestry Dot Com results than anything else because that lady has a Black grandparent I swear to god.

3) Melissa

Speaking of Househusbands I would let [censored again stop judging me], my favorite Meatball Guido is as juiced up as ever, and if I wasn’t so concerned about my health and well-being, I would run headfirst into that sexy ball of roid rage. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it forever until Andy listens to me, Joe Gorga is the best Real Housewife who’s never been given a contract, closely followed by Marlo and Sutton. Props to Melissa for being just interesting enough to stay on the screen and build enough notoriety for herself to be slightly independent, but if she wasn’t married to Joe, she would’ve been on for two-seasons at best. Joe would still film because Teresa is his sister, and that drama is what made New Jersey great to me back in the day. Family drama always has a lil more seasoning than drama manufactured by rich white women loosely connected through social circles and a television contract. Joe Gorga is as much of a crook as Joe Giudice and I’m ready to watch that play out with the two wheels spinning in Teresa’s empty head before one falls off the axle and rattles around while she tries to find a coherent argument. Also, does it need to be said that I am very much here for Frank kissing Joe’s ass? [The next five sentences are censored, but may appear on Nifty Dot Com] Joe, if you get sent to prison and Melissa leaves you, I’m available for conjugal visits.

2) Teresa

Teresa is an idiot, but the show doesn’t work without her. No cast is as tied to one cast member as New Jersey is tied to Teresa. They stopped production for a whole year because they couldn’t film without her while she was in jail. That is the only reason she’s number two for me. Thankfully, Teresa is single and ready to mingle. She’s rich, she’s toned, and she’s pushed her hairline back over the years, so the men she is bringing around to mingle with are a welcome distraction from her limited grasp of the English language. I’m still voting for the poolboy with diamond cutters for nipples, but literally anybody is a step up from the Koopa Troopa she was previously married to.

1) Jennifer

Oh Jennifer. What an iconic Housewife very much in danger of flaming out too soon. Mrs. Aydin is flying very close to the sun, but Jennifer is what happens when a fan gets cast and fulfills the assignment correctly as opposed to whatever Drew and Latoya are doing in Atlanta. Jennifer is juuuusssst delusional enough to blow a fight out of proportion, but not so out of touch that she’s hard to watch. She’s an instigator with a touching family storyline, a fresh new face, and an even fresher drinking problem…that may damage her new mug because mama was face down on the concrete! What’s the story?! I need to know where this booze spiral is coming from! We already know her husband can’t hold his liquor, so do we have two slushbags stumbling around that big ugly mansion (that they bought just for the show because they thought their old house was too small and that’s why she couldn’t get cast initially)?

Anyway, I think this season of New Jersey will surprise us. The girls are looking goodt and the boys are looking messy and the stories are looking dramatic and only slightly manufactured so I’m here for it. Bring on the Jersey trash. I love judging people.
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
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On Television

What are you watching that’s so much better than Real Housewives?

Let me just give you a quick rundown of some of the current happenings across the franchises.



I was having a conversation with this guy while I was watching Real Housewives of Salt Lake City and he said he’d never seen it before.

That’s fine. There are a ton of things that I’ve never seen before because there’s just so much content out there. We find the things that speak to us.

He said he’d been at the circus when some NY Housewives were there and I jokingly said I want to be friends with one of them so I can become a big TV star.

He goes, “I would need more substance than they project on TV.”

My roommate loves anime. I do not. He watches a lot of anime. I do not. Does it speak to me as a genre? No, not really. Am I dismissive of it when someone else likes it?  No, because that’s what they like. Can I find some entertainment value in it? Yeah, I can. There are a couple of his favorites that he’s had me watch and, while I wouldn’t sit down and choose to watch them alone, I enjoy them and I’m interested to see what happens next in the story.

My minor point here is, don’t yuck someone’s yum. If someone is telling you they like something, maybe you should err on the side of “Oh that’s not for me” as opposed to “That’s not worthy of my attention.”

And to piggyback: what are you watching exactly that’s so much better than the Real Housewives? Let me just give you a quick rundown of some of the current happenings across the franchises.

Orange County is Republican Trash, but let’s talk about it.

Those of us who live in liberal bubbles really can’t understand how the pandemic unfolded in Conservative areas, but there it is on Bravo. One of them is married to a Fox News reporter, says it’s just a flu, and refuses to wear a real mask while two of the cast members are laid up in the house with COVID and a husband is in the hospital. There’s a functioning alcoholic getting sober while coming to terms with her sexuality after 20 years of marriage and 7 kids; she’s now realizing she’s a lesbian. There’s a battered wife trying to decide whether to put her ex in jail because of what he did or let it go so their kids won’t miss their father. The new wife grew up in a religious cult where she was was beaten half to death and afraid she would be thrown under a bridge. You’re watching Meredith Grey die for the third time on ABC.

Salt Lake City is giving us a front seat to the usual dysfunction of rich ladies forced to interact with each other, but also a peek behind the Mormon curtain.

Quickly: name any other show on television giving you a crash course in Mormonism. The Church of Latter Day Saints is the fourth-largest Christian denomination in the country and I’ll bet the average person can’t tell you anything about it other than polygamy (no longer accurate) and Utah (it’s pretty much still a Mormon state). This cast has Mormons with lineage back to the founding of the church, a Jewish woman who converted to Mormonism, a Mormon woman converting to Islam, a Mormon woman who was kicked out of the church, and a Black Pentecostal prosperity preacher (a grifter for White Jesus). You’re watching an alcoholic Kaley Cuoco on HBO solve a murder mystery.

New York City is the only show on television where women over 50 (and Ramona is over 60) have the space to live full, sexual lives and not apologize for it.

Temptation Island has nothing on a night out with these women at Beautique. How do you even prevent hangovers after 30? I don’t know, but I’m trying to learn their ways. And they’re navigating real life as older women. What do you do as the poor (stay at home) ex-wife of a rich family when your husband runs off with your friend and you have to keep up a house and your kid in boarding school? How do you restart your life at 60 when you discover your husband in your home with another woman? And she’s gone from the show, but I have to remind everyone that the federal government did nothing for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria for months — Bethenny Frankel was the only one down there helping the residents and handing out supplies. What are you watching that’s so much more compelling? A redhead with wideset eyes playing chess for 8 hours?

Potomac, aka The Sisterhood of the Travelling Vanessa Williamses, is fascinating television, with a full roster of heroes, villains, and every shade in between.

A stay-at-home mom using her newfound notoriety to launch a business after saving her husband from the brink of bankruptcy. High school sweethearts remarrying after infidelity and financial ruin. First generation Nigerian-Americans reaching the pinnacle of educational achievement and setting examples for their children and the community. A new mom wrestling with (and avoiding the seriousness of) her sugar daddy’s repeated sexual harassments of men. A former First Lady of the Church rekindling a relationship with the pastor who cheated on her, is still cheating on her, and who her children do not like. And two women with volatile personalities coming to blows over rumors of infidelity, paternity, and betrayal. You’re watching a show that packed more than that into a season? I would love to see it. If it’s not Veneno, it’s not better than Potomac, I promise you.

And Atlanta.

Listen. You can say what you want about Nene or the lack of Nene, but The Real Housewives of Atlanta will always be compelling television. Beautiful, successful, engaging, intelligent, BLACK women on my screen will always be compelling television. Also, other than the Love & Hip-Hop franchises, where else are Black women so open and casual about their bisexual experiences? Have we seen Black women go through the fertility struggle and surrogacy process? Have we seen Black women (from the South no less!) treading the thin line between respecting your toxic mother and respecting your husband? Have we been able to ignore the Black people who acted like selfish assholes during the pandemic, throwing (potentially) superspreader events because white people were the ones who went viral for it? When we see Black women dealing with an emotionally abusive husband and navigating that relationship for the sake of her child, doesn’t Tyler Perry always write in a man to save her? And Porsha Luther King Williams. Nobody else on television got arrested multiple times this summer putting their body on the line for Breonna Taylor and protesting against police brutality. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is not better than this just because Amy Sherman Palladino packs 20 pages worth of dialogue into 5 pages worth of script.

The Real Housewives isn’t a documentary. It isn’t reality TV the way The Real World was reality TV 30 years ago. It’s “reality” TV. It’s a heightened reality. It’s a stylized presentation of real life. It’s real life that has been manipulated for entertainment value. Would you normally throw a glass of wine at someone? Probably not — you’d walk away. Would you have the same argument with someone you don’t like for weeks? Probably not — you’d stop hanging out with them. It’s a manufactured experience engineered to capture authentic reactions to slightly manipulated real life situations because it makes for better TV. But Ashley’s husband gropes men. Ramona’s husband cheated on her. Shannon’s kids do have COVID. Braunwyn is a lesbian. Karen is starting a business. Whitney got kicked out of the church. Mary is married to her grandfather. And Porsha did get arrested.

What are you watching that’s so much better?
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
CashApp: $RafiDAngelo



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On Television

SNL’s jokeswap took a well-deserved shot at Scarlett Johanssen.

Colin Jost read his wife live on air and I screamed.



I don’t typically watch Saturday Night Live. I check the cold open leading up to an election because the debate spoofs can be funny, but it’s not really my genre of television. I don’t have a sense of humor. And sketch comedy gives me malaria.

However! Kristen Wiig is funny and, as a male human who has sex with other male humans, I’m contractually obligated by The Guild to consume all media featuring Dua Lipa, so I watched last night’s episode.

1) Dua Lipa is just doing what none of the other pop girls are and we continue to stan.

2) Bowen Yang is now President of Homosexuals. No other candidates will be considered. Observe:

3) Colin Jost read his wife live on air and I screamed.

Colin and Michael Che do a joke swap for Christmas where they each write jokes for the other to read without them knowing what the joke will say. They’re always offensive, and usually funny. Both things were still true, but the last joke about Scarlett Johansson, famed trans man woman of color oak tree quadriplegic actress, was a bold move that we appreciate very much.

Do I care about ScarJo? No. Would I like to be a fly on the wall to see her reaction to the joke?
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
CashApp: $RafiDAngelo

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