I heard about Twenties from numerous people online who shared it with the story of Lena Waithe’s struggle to get the show made: the networks all express their love for the project, but suggest there isn’t an audience for these stories (or that they already exist), which is paraphrasing to hide the fact they’re freaking out over the show’s intersection of race and sexuality.
It’s a sad story, and it’s a solid pilot presentation, but I’ve been somewhat more interested in Waithe’s insistence on distancing the series from the designation of “web series.” It’s in the description of each of the pilot presentation’s four parts (“This is NOT a web series”), she’s corrected people who refer to it as a web series on Twitter, and in an interview with Indiewire’s Shadow and Act she’s even more adamant:
“And just so we’re clear: this is not a web series! I repeat this is not a web series. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing a web series. I’ve done one. My goal is to partner with a network that understands what I’m going for.”
It’s a clear effort to avoid further ghettoizing the series, as Waithe is unwilling to abandon her belief that stories about black women (and specifically black queer women) deserve a space on cable. It’s an admirable position that more people need to take—and more executives need to recognize—in order to impart real change in how African American audiences are served in our contemporary moment. It’s also a position that’s going to be very difficult for Waithe to insist upon given the way her distribution of the series’ four-part pilot presentation and the basic premise of that presentation fit comfortably into web series logics.