Did “Coming 2 America” live up to its classic predecessor? Well in this week’s “What’s good on TV,” we’re giving our readers our thoughts on the long-anticipated sequel. Based on last week’s survey results, 83% of our readers said they couldn’t wait to watch it, so leave in the comments what you thought about the film.
Again, don’t forget to fill out the survey at the end of the article so we can pique your interest and see what films and shows you’re interested in us reviewing next.
The other films and shows we’re reviewing in this installment include the biographical film “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” the Netflix docuseries “Amend: The Fight for America” and the Netflix dramedy “Ginny and Georgia.”
Disclaimer: Recaps may include mild spoilers.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Recap: This biographical film about Billie Holiday depicts the late singer’s troubles with drugs, the FBI and love. Holiday (Andra Day) unknowingly falls in love with an undercover FBI agent named Jimmy Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes), but her traumatic childhood prevents their romance and fuels her addiction to heroin. Fletcher is also torn because he’s in love with Holiday, but he still wants to do his job and fight in the war on drugs. Throughout the film, Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry Anslinger (Garrett Hedlund) is determined to arrest Holiday on drug charges. Anslinger’s efforts continued until Holiday’s death in 1959, when he handcuffed her ankle to her deathbed and charged her with drug possession. The film also explores how monumental and controversial Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit” became during her illustrious career.
Thoughts: I didn’t know much about Billie Holiday before seeing this film, but after watching it, I have a newfound appreciation for her career and I now know the demons she faced being an influential Black woman in America. A commonality I found throughout the film is that men would come into her life and betray her. All the men she encountered in the film, including Fletcher, either abused her, set her up to get arrested or enabled her drug addiction. The film also flashes back to Holiday’s youth and reveals that she grew up in a brothel with other Black women who exchanged sexual favors for money. So Holiday grew up never seeing a stable loving relationship, which could explain her numerous failed and toxic relationships.
Andra Day recently won a Golden Globe for Best Actress In A Drama for her portrayal of Holiday. Day is the heart, soul and power of this film because she embodies Holiday. From the moment she stuck a needle in arm, I became enamored and couldn’t look away from the screen. Her voice is also amazing, and while nobody can completely mimic Holiday, she came close. I loved all the other performances in the film, but Day’s is one I’ll remember for a long time. Director Lee Daniels also did an amazing job making the film feel like I traveled back in time to the early-1900s. (JL)
Where to watch: You can stream “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” on Hulu.
Ginny & Georgia
Recap: This comedy/drama is about a young mother who moves her children to a quaint New England town. The show centers around the mother Georgia, and her bi-racial daughter Ginny as she takes on high school. Via flashbacks, we see just how wild Georgia was as a young adult, before having Ginny at 15 years old. Now as a 30 year old she her approach to motherhood is just as wild. The show deals with everything from virginity, to drugs, to murder.
Thoughts: Ginny’s mother is white and her not-in-the-picture father is Black. She is clearly bi-racial and all of the cliches that come with that are present in the show. She’s “too white for the Black kids and too Black for the white kids,” she gets the “you look exotic” comment and racial profiling when she’s with her white friends. Three episodes in, and both of her love interests are white guys. Despite some girls of color asking to hang out with her, Ginny’s friend group is almost entirely white. I almost feel like she was placed as a diversity character for the show. Overall, the show is entertaining and dramatic enough to keep you interested. (BL)
Watch it on Netflix now.
Coming 2 America
Recap: 32 years later King Akeem Joffer (Eddy Murphy) leaves Zamunda to return to America and find his long-lost son, Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler) who will be his heir to the throne.
Thoughts: This was a huge disappointment and he plot line was such a reach: King Akeem’s son, Lavelle, was conceived on the King’s first trip to America when he got too high one night and a woman forced herself on him. You may not remember this from the original movie because it didn’t happen. Instead, in the sequel they do a flashback to show Eddy Murphy (in tons of make up & with digital editing) as his younger self where this scene plays out. Which ultimately meant the movie played into the stereotype of an absent Black father.
Even worse – before being taken off to Africa to become a Prince, Lavelle sold fake basketball tickets and was a 30-year old living with his mother in a small apartment. Overall, not a great look. While it’s nice to see a rich African family, especially the King’s three daughters who are strong and well-rounded – everything else truly just annoyed me. (BL)
Watch it on amazon Prime
Amend: The Fight for America
Recap: This historical docuseries, executive produced and hosted by actor Will Smith, explains what it means to be an American by examining the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Historians, professors and actors of different colors and ethnicities guest appear throughout the series to explain what being an American means to them. Mahershala Ali, Laverne Cox, Sterling K. Brown, Samuel L. Jackson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Helen Hunt are a few actors and actresses that appear in the series. Lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson is another familiar face that addresses what it means to be Black, or a minority, in America.
Thoughts: As a Black man, I thought the docuseries didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but it was refreshing to hear from some figures I respected talk about their own experiences. I thought Will Smith did a good job being the host of the docuseries, and I mean there isn’t much he can’t do.
I learned about the 14th amendment in high school, and from what I remember, I never felt like America held true to this article. The film allowed me to get a refresher on the amendment, but it also made it even clearer that the 14th amendment hasn’t been followed like it should. Things are getting better, but it took recent injustices, like the police killing of George Floyd, to show the world that not everyone is being treated fairly in America. And for the 14th amendment to be adopted in 1868, and there still not be equality for all almost 200 years later, is saddening. (JL)
Where to watch: You can stream “Amend: Fight for America” on Netflix right now.