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Woke - Rhymes with Broke Episode 1 Review - Serious Yet Funny

The Hulu series mixes racial issues with wacky humor.

Reviewed by on Sep 07, 2020
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld watched Rhymes with Broke the first episode of Hulu’s new comedy Woke. Well-acted and very timely, the series centers on a Black cartoonist’s first experience with rough racism and how it changes him. Check our review of the new series.

In “Woke - Rhymes with Broke”, Black cartoonist Keef Knight (Lamorne Morris) just wants to keep his comic strip “Toast ‘N’ Butter” inoffensive and light. The San Francisco citizen’s creation is hitting bigtime syndication that will make him rich. His girlfriend Katrina (Alvina August) is a lawyer and they are about to buy an expensive condo. Roomies Gunther (Blake Anderson), an ambitious stoner, and Clovis (T. Murph) who pretends to be famous sports heroes to get goods and girls, are supportive as well. When Keef is roughly tackled and cuffed by police who think he’s a mugger, his world is turned upside down. Suddenly bottles of beer and Sharpie pens are talking to him, most trying to push him to be a BLM activist.

At the store, beer bottles talk to KeefAt the store, beer bottles talk to KeefCourtesy of Hulu

Movin’ On Up

Cartoonist Keef Knight goes to a photoshoot at his publicist’s office. His comic strip has been syndicated in 35 outlets. After having coffee with his girlfriend discussing their plans to move in together in a fancy high-rise, he admits he hasn’t told his roommates yet. After a fan admits he didn’t know Keef was Black, the cartoonist visits a comic book store where he places a flier announcing his upcoming appearance at GoldenCon, a local convention. In the store, Ayana (Sasheer Zamata) tries to recruit him for her new newspaper “The Bay Arean” which is looking for cartoonists who confront race and class issues. Keef says that’s not him. He keeps it light.

Newspaper editor Ayana wants to recruit KeefNewspaper editor Ayana wants to recruit KeefCourtesy of Hulu

A Day in His Life

Keef and roommate Clovis find a White woman’s wallet on the street. Keef wants to turn it in, doing the right thing. Clovis tosses it away telling him cops will immediately think they stole it. At home later, Gunther, high as usual, has a great idea for an energy drink but, it has cocaine in it. Clovis and Keef kindly pass as investors. Next day, Keef passes out more fliers when out of the blue police knock off his headphones, roughly grab him, force him to the ground and handcuff him! What? He is frightened and confused. Gunther sees and tries to interfere but is only held back, not thrown to the ground. When the cops get word that Keef isn’t the right guy, they let him go like nothing happened.

Keef is placing fliers when cops jump himKeef is placing fliers when cops jump himCourtesy of Hulu

Changed Forever

On the way home, dazed and confused, Keef sees inanimate objects like beer bottles at the convenience store moving and talking to him! He briefly talks back saying “I’m not crazy” but is he? At another meeting with the publicity firm, he’s told that a big bread company wants to license his drawings and they show him his official photograph that presents him with a greatly lightened skin tone. To Keef, it comes alive and complains. He freaks and runs out. When he sees that his fave neighborhood barbershop has been taken over by White upwardly mobile owners who are fake Black-friendly, he sadly leaves until the trash can out front tells him that Darnell, the owner did not sell willingly and that he has to do something about it. Keef throws the trashcan against the window….but it doesn’t break and he has to run.

Roomies Clovis and GuntherRoomies Clovis and GuntherCourtesy of Hulu

You Woke!

Finally Keef tells Clovis about the incident with the police and that they could have shot Gunther for interfering. Clovis says they would have if he were Black and tells Keef that he “woke”. Keef says he knew about racism but he’d never really experienced it before. Now he’s like every other Black human. Keef has to speak at the convention and is nervous. His friends will be there for him. Before his speech his characters Toast and Butter appear, animate and talk to him. Even his Sharpie pen tells him to be visible, be relevant, make your mark! Keef’s adoring fans are confused when he speaks about racism etc. The fans leave and he knows he has blown his new success. Only newspaper girl Ayana, in the audience is pleased.

Keef's Sharpie pen talks to himKeef's Sharpie pen talks to himCourtesy of Hulu

Confrontation

A depressed Keef is confronted by the Black robber the cops were after. He wants money but Keef has none so he takes his credit card. Now Keef is broke and jobless. What is next? Will he continue to speak out about racial injustice, will he lose his girlfriend? Will he keep hearing and seeing objects that give him advice?

Talking beer bottlesTalking beer bottlesCourtesy of Hulu

Wrapping Up

Inspired by the life and work of artist Keith Knight, “Woke” is a fresh mix of comedy and racial commentary, all acted very well by Lamorne Morris who was Winston in the comedy series “New Girl”. A little less of the commentary by the objects around Keef and more of his real life struggle with his new awakening to the facts of Black life in America would maybe be better.

Keef yells at the Sharpie pen trying to run his lifeKeef yells at the Sharpie pen trying to run his lifeCourtesy of Hulu

All of the actors are excellent and I’d like to see more of Keef’s soul-searching and interaction with roomies Gunther and Clovis, both funny and somewhat unique characters. Our experiences and other people’s reactions can influence our paths in life. Some dark, gallows humor in this process is fine.

Gunther has a new schemeGunther has a new schemeCourtesy of Hulu

It is well-worth it to check out this new series. It’s a smart mix of goofy and thoughtful as it tackles timely issues of prejudice and racism through the eyes of an almost uber-successful young Black man who gets abruptly “Woke” to the sad realities of simply being Black in America in 2020. What modern issues will future episodes confront?

Keef is Woke and notices changesKeef is Woke and notices changesCourtesy of Hulu

This show would be best appreciated by teens and up. We award four stars to this first episode.

"Woke: Rhymes with Broke" Episode Review: 4

Woke - Rhymes with Broke Episode 1 Review - Serious Yet Funny Courtesy of Hulu

See “Woke” on Hulu starting September 9th. More episodes are also available.

Would You Watch?

Do you think a serious subject can be explored with a bit of humor? Have you personally experienced racism or have a good pal who has? Do you appreciate a supernatural element in a TV series? Talk it up here or on your Kidzworld profile page!