Returning to work the Monday after Thanksgiving break was THEE ultimate struggle. I was exhausted from a long, much-needed weekend of spending time with my family, hanging with friends, and detoxing the plethora of leftovers I managed to digest #BacktoBack — after Day 3, I refused to look at another plate of macaroni. But, I still managed to make it to Friday, thank the Good Lord. I attribute most of the credit to The Wiz Live, which gave me and my fellow melanin folk something to live for this week.
But before I get on that, I just wanna take a brief moment to talk about the annoyingly addictive hot mess that is known as Empire. When the Season 2 premiere aired back in September, I wrote a very passionate recap of how triflin’ the entire episode was and how I was gonna boycott the show. And I really did, until like three or four episodes later when Hakeem got murked by his Fantasia/Frankie Lon-looking arch nemesis, Freda Gatz. Ain’t no way that boy won that freestyle battle. And Lucious-loving Jamal was getting on my nerves at first, but then he got like super-duper sexy all of a sudden (it’s got to be the facial hair) and got back cool with Cookie so now I’m #TeamJamal again. But during the winter finale, ish went to a whole n’other level. I’m gonna make this real quick so I can get to the more important part of this post:
- Camille (Naomi Campbell) came back with A VENGEANCE, honey! I mean, homegirl must’ve played some serious chess back in her day ’cause I DEFINITELY was not expecting all that! Find a rich lesbian white girl suffering from cancer, marry her and nurse her back to health, then make her become BFFs with Lucious so she can steal the company from right under his nose and appoint you as the new president and CEO. Oh, AND convince his OWN SON (aka yo young slice) to vote him off the board so you can take over. Bruh. TOO RUTHLESS.
- Jamal turned straight for five minutes. Like literally five minutes. Apparently, Alicia Keys loves a challenge. First, she bagged a married man (no shade), and now, a gay one. In the words of the hilarious fool Kountry Wayne, “Alicia Keys must got ‘the key’ ’cause she done turned Jamal the otha way!” I CAN NOT!!! But unfortunately for her, swapping spit before engaging in one night of passion wasn’t enough to keep ol’ Mally Mall locked into Hetero Land. You tried it doe, Alicia. I’ll give you that much.
- Anika makes light-skinned chicks look terrible. Let’s review her track record: She was engaged to Lucious, they broke up, then she started sleeping with her almost-stepson Hakeem, gets pregnant by him, then tries to convince him that they’re meant to be together even though he clearly doesn’t want her. So she does the unthinkable, which brings me to my next point…
- Pregnant Rhonda gets pushed down a spiral staircase. Just when I was actually starting to like that lil’ white girl. All Rhonda was doing was living her life in the palace Lucious had just bought for her, Andre and their baby-to-be (or “The Heir” as Lucious affectionately calls it). Rhonda wasn’t hurting nobody — she had done enough damage when she killed Vernon off last season. She wasn’t even being the crazy, vindictive wife we all once knew her to be. She was just staying her happy, pregnant self right at home in that big ol’ house, basking in her lil’ baby-bump glory. And what happens? She befriends sorry a– Anika, who breaks into Rhonda and Dre’s new home and pushes her down a flight of stairs to kill the baby. This would make Anika and Hakeem’s baby next in line to claim the Lyon Legacy, thus putting Anika back into the picture. But something tells me Rhonda and Dre’s baby is gonna live and poor Rhonda is gonna die off the show. Guess we’ll have to wait until March to find out.
Now moving on to No Bad News…
The Wiz Live gave so much life where life needed to be given — particularly, on primetime NBC. Seeing all my beautiful melanin folk reenacting every character, animal (with the exception of Toto -_-), and inanimate object from The Wiz — I’m talking from the tornado to the doggone trees, honey — was definitely something I was proud to witness. But I was especially impressed with the cast’s performance, so I’ve provided my thoughts below:
- Shanice Williams as Dorothy: Shanice, you played that role, girl. And you can SANG! Kudos to you for landing your FIRST-EVER musical audition and becoming a part of a timeless classic.
- Stephanie Mills as Aunt Em: What happens when you shoulda been Dorothy in the original film because not even Diana could serve supreme slayage (see what I did there lol) singing “Home” like you can. My hat forever goes off to the legendary Stephanie Mills.
- No one as Toto: They really played my boy. Like legit wrote him out of the ENTIRE SCRIPT. His character was very important (i.e. he was the one who scared the crows away). I understand it was a live show, so a real dog would’ve been an epic fail. But they could’ve had someone who doesn’t really need a speaking role play Toto, like Young Thug or Raven Symone, for example.
- Ne-Yo as The Tin Man: I absolutely LOVED him in this role. He did a fantastic job and sounded great. I definitely see broadway in your future, Ne-Yo!
- David Alan Grier as Lion: Everything I expected simply because it’s David Alan Grier — funny, entertaining, and everything else that falls under the “Yes” category.
- Elijah Kelley as Scarecrow: I ain’t even gon’ lie. I got hella nervous for dude when the “You Can’t Win” beat dropped. With Michael Jackson playing the original scarecrow, bruh man had some EXTREMELY BIG shoes to fill. But I was very pleasantly surprised because HE NAILED IT! He played the part perfectly and actually kind of reminded me of MJ. Awesome job, Elijah!
- Mary J as the Wicked Witch of the West: When I tell y’all I was NOT here for Mary J when I found out she would be playing the Wicked Witch of the West, I’m so serious. But Mary exceeded ALL of my expectations ’cause honey KILLED it. She must’ve gotten a bomb acting and vocal coach package for that role because she was giving me TOO much life. I ain’t even mad at you, Mary.
- Amber Riley as the Good Witch of the North: Girl, you took me to church on a Thursday ’cause you can SANG!
- Uzo Aduba as Glinda the Good Witch of the South: I got way too hype when she came on the screen. Like legit almost hopped up from the couch. Uzo, you are everything. And you know this.
- Common as the Emerald City bouncer: Common, you know I love you, boo. But the next time you decide to take a made-up role in a nationally televised live musical, consult me first, OK? We have to discuss these kinds of things.
- Queen Latifah as The Wiz: I mean, I guess having a woman play The Wiz made for a pretty cool twist. Nonetheless, the Queen did an excellent job. Very charismatic, and her costume and make-up? ON POINT. Which segues to my last and final review…
- The Costume Designer: WHO ARE YOU??? Nevermind, I just Googled you. Paul Tazewell!!! You deserve a round of applause and several champagne toasts because those costumes SLAYED, honey. From the lion locks (I peeped game) to Mary’s bomb hairpiece, you certainly outdid yourself. The only criticism I have is for Dorothy’s costume. I understand you were trying to make her a more modern representation of today’s young black woman, but you could’ve done a little better with her look, in my opinion. Something that would’ve popped a little more on the camera (i.e. maybe a bright, dramtatic blue leather jacket to bring out the blue in her plaid skirt) because she kind of got washed out in everyone else’s, vibrant, fabulous costumes. That’s all.
And to all my non-melanin folk who believe having an all-black cast on The Wiz is racist, please have a seat, grab your remote, and turn to TV Land, where you and your kids will most likely catch the all-powerful — and all-white — Wizard of Oz. Goodnight.