The TV spin-off is just as awesome as the movie
When Blind spot Hitting the film festival circuit in 2018, the response from critics has been unanimous: This film was a phenomenal start for writing team Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. The film takes a fiery look at Oakland’s community and culture while tactfully addressing issues of systemic racism, police violence, gentrification, and cultural appropriation. The story followed childhood friends Collin (Daveed Diggs) and Miles (Rafael Casal), but was shown primarily through Collin’s eyes as he completed his final three days of probation and faced the recklessness of Miles’ choices, which ultimately impact their friendship. We also saw how Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones), Miles’ girlfriend of 12 years and mother of son Sean was affected by his lightness. Now she’s at the center of a spin-off, also titled Blind spot, which airs June 13 on Starz.
The series resumes in 2018, six months after the events of the film. Miles, still careless, gets arrested, leaving Ashley to pick up the pieces. Her world turned upside down, Ashley realizes that she will have to rely on Miles’ family. After asking for a favor, Ashley and Sean (Atticus Woodward) pack up their house and move in with Miles’ mother Rainey (Helen Hunt) and equally reckless and delirious half-sister Trish (Jaylen Barron). The story moves from Collin’s POV to Ashley’s in a continuous flow of consciousness transfer. There is a distinct difference in the storytelling to let the viewer know that they are now experiencing the world of Ashley. The fourth wall-breaking moments are more intentional, the worms are purposefully sprinkled, and the built-in dancers and lighting help guide the ebb and flow of Ashley’s journey.
Jasmine Cephas Jones’s portrayal of Ashley expresses a struggle: the struggle to hold on to the good of the community she grew up loving while wanting better for those around her and in her life. Janelle (Candace Nicholas-Lippman) helps Ashley anchor the way her brother Collin once hoped to cross Miles. Nicholas-Lippman takes Janelle beyond the “best friend” trope and allows the character to claim her own claim in this established world. Helen Hunt’s Rainey is energetic as she tries to deal with her extremely free-spirited daughter and incarcerated son. As the first half of the season unfolds, Rainey and Ashley connect in a meaningful way, as Rainey sees reflections of herself in the decisions Ashley makes.
While the series has some beautiful and poignant moments, it is not without its flaws. Ashley’s response to Trish’s sex work has a twinge of judgment that is hard to overcome and, intentionally or unintentionally, adds to the stigma of consensual sex work. Without further nuance, it’s hard to tell if the public is supposed to agree with Ashley or ignore her statements as ignorance. The agency Trish shows can be seen as confrontational and stubborn, but it’s easy to empathize with her after seeing how she is treated by others, including her boss and a loan officer. Another issue is Sean’s casting for the series. While it’s understandable that the child actor (Ziggy Baitinger) playing Sean in the film is older now and that a revamp was needed to move the series forward, it’s shocking to say the least. a child with noticeably lighter skin in the same role. . Atticus Woodward does a phenomenal job in the heavy, adult-themed environment, maintaining childlike innocence throughout the story and bringing humorous moments to the story, but the overhaul is blatant and perpetuates the casting choices of the colorists who have emerged more in recent years.
Where this brilliant series is most successful is in repositioning the same type of story in a new perspective, while also addressing how someone’s actions affect the lives of those around them. The show borrows heavily from the movie, incorporating verses, fourth wall pauses, and isolating cutscenes, and expands those moments to fit Ashley’s perspective. Seith Mann (Country, #FreeRayshawn) directs the first episodes, and his style seems heavily influenced by Spike Lee. But it’s fantastic to see how this influence creates a truly immersive and modern visual experience.
TV adaptations of the film often failed, with the charm or intention of the original lost in translation. This is not the case for Blindspotting, and this is mainly due to the fact that Diggs and Casal have succeeded in building a world that can expand and shrink with each new entry. It could easily turn into an anthology series, where a different character takes the reins every season. Blind spot is a must see, each episode is a wonderful trip to a bay area rabbit hole.