For those of you who don’t know, David Makes Man is a new show that premiered on OWN about three weeks ago. To be honest, I had no intentions of adding it to my new shows because all I kept seeing was a still image of a young boy in a book bag standing in front of a building. There was no real promo that intrigued me.
That is until last week. After Queen Sugar, they aired Oprah interviewing the cast & creator of the show, followed by the first episode and I was IMMEDIATELY captured by the story-telling. Now that I’m hooked, I’m sharing 6 Reasons Why I believe YOU should spend your extended weekend catching up on David Meets man.
**Minimal Spoilers Ahead!**
- The Story-Telling is Robust
- It Humanizes Folk Society Views as Villainous
- Diverse Dimensions of Black Fatherhood
- It’s Critique of Friendship
- There’s Humor in the Heaviness
- Mental Health Matters
1. The Story-Telling is Robust
It’s not one of those shows that gives you all the answers in the first episode. In fact, it leaves you with so many questions that are just half answered before the final scene. They utilize the characters words & creatively highlight their unspoken thoughts in ways that seem authentic. The show follows a teenage boy growing up in Miami without centering on glamorizing or trashing the cities residents. In fact, we get to see drug dealers, recovering addicts, child abusers, sexual assault survivors, members of the trans community, and school staff in ways that doesn’t make a mockery of their existence.
David’s relationship with his mentor, his teacher, his best friend, his brother & his mother all get attention in the first episode. He’s a middle school scholar being bused to a magnet school where he doesn’t fully fit in, from a neighborhood where he’s somewhat afraid to stand out. Even the show’s side characters seem to have very developed back stories that leave you wanting more. Like David’s best friend Seren. He lives in a neighborhood closer to their school, he lives in a two-parent, single family home, and appears to have everything David does not, but he still endures just as much pain as his friend.
The way David’s actions are visually juxtaposed to the actions he considers taking is enough to keep you wanting more. Good acting, good writing, & great imagery really bring the show to life and make you feel like you’re there with him.
2. It Humanizes folks We Tend to see as Villainous
In 2013, I taught an all-boys summer school class in Baltimore where I asked my rising seventh graders to raise their hands if they had a man in their life they looked up to, that looked after them. All hands went up. Then I told them to keep their hands up if society tells them, that person is a bad person. So many hands remained in the air, because the truth is the D.A.R.E program told us that drug dealers are bad people. But if the dealer is putting clothes on your back and keeping the bullies off of it, it’s hard for you to see them as the villain we’re taught to see. This leaves so many young people conflicted. In David Makes Man, we see the type of relationship my Baltimore Boys who kept their hands up had, come to life on our television screens.
The same person pushing David to Greatness is the person he shouldn’t be seeing, a person his mom wanted to keep him away from. There are other characters with villainous actions, who we get to see in vulnerable moments, that explain, even if they don’t excuse their actions.
3. Diverse Dimensions in Black Fatherhood
You know DAAAMN DADDY is all about allowing Daddy Issues to Drive Discussion. This show has an abundance of daddy issues to discuss. There are absentee father, questionable step fathers, mentors who serve as surrogate dads, and dads whose impact lasts long past their death.
Episode 2 provides a moment where we get to see how little black boys grieve. One person is asking too many questions for the other’s comfort leading them to shout “Don’t Talk About My Daddy!” then David intervenes, reminding them “His Daddy dead too.”
David learns that there’s more to his mentor than he may know when their son describes his father’s reaction to something he did with the words “That kind of mad, he only reserves for ME.” Which leaves more questions than answers about he & his father’s relationship.
We see black boys’ sensitivity at the mention of their dead daddies, and their solitude when healing from the hands of abusive ones. And they’ve just scratched the surface on the impact of a father’s absence.
4. It’s Critique of Friendship
So many levels of friendship are explored in the first three episodes. If you’ve ever worked with middle school scholars you know it’s a vicious cycle of frenemies and faux foes. We get to see how a falling out in episode 1 comes to an opportunity for repair in episode 3. We see how insecurities can lead friends (of any age) to use words as daggers to dig deep at their friend’s weaknesses. We’re exposed o how we carry our friend’s burdens in a friendship, and why that may or may not be detrimental to our own success. We also get a glimpse at David’s mother’s friendship with the neighbor Miss Elijah, and how black families have always relied on the village to raise the children.
5. There’s Humor in the Heaviness
I think my favorite character is David’s little brother JG. He’s nine years old, still pees in the bed & let’s his mouth write checks that he wants his brother’s hands to cash. In just three episodes the show has touched on so many traumatic subjects, from dead daddies to child sexual abuse, mothers recovering from drug use and children being swindled into narcotics distribution, that there hardly seems room for laughter, but there is.
The way they illustrate the anxious David the world sees versus the confident & comedic David existing inside is brilliant!
For ages Black People have laughed to stop from crying. We endure trauma, and most of us don’t let it stop us from living. Seeing how the show runners retain that element of laughter and light-heartedness seems genuine to the human experience. We don’t wallow in sadness and let our circumstances keep us down & out.
Which brings me to reason 6, Mental Health Matters. For Black Folks, when laughing it off isn’t enough.
6. Mental Health Matters
Black Boys need Therapy Too. We see that in David Makes Man. There are several moments throughout the series where my young man asked me “What’s wrong with him?” We hear mention of how rough the summer was in David’s neighborhood. David tells the principal his mom’s phone has been disconnected since the lights came back on; the principal asks if he’s eaten. (Shout out to educators that care about their scholars meeting Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs) She suggests he sees the school counselor.
In addition to David’s own need for Mental Health Services, we’re introduced to a young character in the trans community seeking asylum from their home with one of David’s neighbors. We see how unaddressed trauma manifests, and we also see how sometimes kids don’t feel safe in designated safe spaces. What happens when a person isn’t a willing participant in their own therapeutic counseling? It makes you consider how many kids can’t find coping in counseling because they’re keeping secrets, to keep themselves safe.
Well, there you have it! My 6 Reasons You Should Be Watching David Meets Man.
Once you’re all caught up shoot me a tweet or tag me in your Facebook/InstaStory about the moments that made you laugh, made you sigh & make you think Daaamn.
Bonus Reason: PHYLICIA RASHAAD !! (I LOVE HER!!)