NBC’s newly launched streaming service Peacock is betting big on ambitious “what if…” Drama “Noughts + Crosses” that imagines an alternate universe with reversed history.
In this world, Africa – or “Aprica” – invaded Europe centuries ago, enslaving its people. In present-day London, “Albion,” slavery is an institution of the past but Jim Crow-esque segregation laws maintain the power dynamic: a ruling class of Black “Crosses” control the country’s politics, wealth and culture over an oppressed, impoverished underclass of white “Noughts” who are at the brink of revolt.
Against this backdrop, a forbidden love story unfolds between a Nought and a Cross a la Romeo and Juliet. Peep the trailer below:
Now, to be fair, the series seems to have pure intentions with thought-provoking dialogue, impressive costume design and a melanin-kissed lead (who’s absolutely gorgeous) but it’s a victim of terrible timing based on Black and Brown people still facing rampant racism in the real world.
There’s something uncomfortably jarring about oppressed white people fighting to be seen as equals when the entire target audience of this show are people of color who can’t even breathe without being harassed by entitled white people.
In one scene, white teens (some with cornrows) are profiled by Black police officers who call them “blankers”–a reversed “n-word” for white people that’s more hilarious than provocative.
This would probably hit different if Black folks weren’t still being called the “n-word” by exasperated white people but anyone with internet access knows this happens almost daily.
Even more baffling is Jay-Z’s Roc Nation executive producing a show that wants you to feel sorry for white people at a time when armed white supremacists terrorize peaceful Black protesters, angry Karens harass their Black neighbors and white cops shoot unarmed Black men on camera.
Make it make sense, Hov.
At first glance, the premise of African royalty in a modern world is intriguing but mostly squandered by a sketchy script that sympathizes with the “Noughts” without a splash of nuance.
What was achieved in “Black Panther” with the celebration of Black exceptionalism without centering whiteness, is not even attempted in the tone-deaf series that’s more interesting in putting white people in kente cloth than telling a compelling story.
Final verdict: Come for Masali Baduza, stay for the (unintentional) laughs.