SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details about the season finale of Boomerang.
When it was announced that Lena Waithe was teaming with Halle Berry to bring the wildly underrated ’90s rom-com to BET as a television series, diehard fans of the original were giddy with excitement as the new iteration set out to struck a curious chord with the younger generation — some of whom have never heard of the TV show. With Ben Cory Jones as showrunner and a team of fresh talent in front of and behind the camera, the first 10 episodes of the series brought a new perspective and look to the continuation of the film starring Eddie Murphy as playboy Marcus Graham who learns to love like an actual adult. Waithe and Berry (who starred in the original) brought the story into 2019 with a raw and real sense of storytelling and tonight’s finale titled “Trust” had audiences shocked as it mirrored the original as Simone (Tetona Jackson) and Bryson’s (Tequan Richmond) relationship presumably came to an end — and it was a mess.
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For those of you who are just boarding the Boomerang bandwagon, Simone and Bryson are the connection to the Reginald Hudlin-directed 1992 film. Simone is the daughter of Marcus (Murphy) and Angela Lewis (Berry) while Bryson is the son of Jacqueline Broyer (played in the film by Robin Givens). Marcus, Angela, and Jacqueline were in a love triangle which ended with Marcus and Angela getting together — but before that, we must not forget that Marcus’s playboy habits died hard and he cheated on Angela with Jacqueline. That said, all of this drama is very present on the TV iteration and, at times, weighs heavy on the characters — especially in the season finale.
Simone and Bryson’s hot-and-cold relationship has been the foundation of the comedy as it has been threaded throughout season one amidst storylines that tackled real-life social issues such as black identity, queer identity, social media fame, navigating the corporate world as a young professional and even the #MeToo movement. As the couple finally made it official, a wrench was thrown into their relationship: the resurfacing of Simone’ ex Camden (Joey BadA$$).
When Simone finds out that Camden is engaged she goes down a social media rabbit hole which makes her reminisce about the good times they had together. As a result, they connect on social media and they decide to have dinner — and Bryson trusts her enough to do so — bad idea. I think we all know where this is heading.
Simone and Camden meet up and the two of them behave themselves but as resurfaced feelings become stronger and the inevitable happens. No, they don’t sleep together, but they kiss which some may argue is worse.
During the date, Bryson calls Simone to check in and she lies telling him she’s at home when she is really having a private roller skating party with Camden. Little does she know that Bryson knows that she is living under a veil of lies as he is calling her from his car parked in front of her house.
The next morning, we see them in the kitchen and it is about to go down. Words are exchanged, tears are shed and trust is broken as the conversation ends with Bryson saying, “You’re just like your damn father” before walking out leaving the audience gagged.
Deadline talked with Waithe about how this ending essentially mirrors a pivotal scene in the original, how the show stands on its own and what we can expect for season two of the BET comedy including a possibility of cameos from stars from the original film — but she isn’t making any promises.
DEADLINE: Did you have the whole first season mapped out and did you know how it was going to end?
LENA WAITHE: No, not at all. I ended up doing the bulk of the writing that I didn’t expect. I knew I had a big responsibility to make sure it was right because it was on my back. My biggest help on the show was Dime Davis, who directed four episodes including the finale and Rishi Rajani who produced the hell out of this TV show. It was the three of us who really needed to figure out what the show was and I am really grateful to Rishi and Dime for going above and beyond.
We had a couple of ideas of what we wanted to do but we honestly figured it out as we went along. It’s a season one show so I had to really declare what the voice was. Once we figure out what the voice was — I always tell this to my young mentees — let the characters talk to you. Let the show tell you what it is. Don’t tell the show what it is. That’s what I think we did. I feel like the feedback we have gotten from critics and audiences has been a reflection of that. We didn’t try to force it what we wanted it to be, but it told us what it should be.
DEADLINE: Let’s talk about that ending. Simone and Bryson are the will they/won’t they/yes they did/not anymore couple of the series. The end is very much reminiscent of the “Love should have brought your ass home last night” scene from the movie that fans would recognize. Was that intentional?
WAITHE: I definitely used that scene as a template. I really wanted to show that we as children repeat the patterns of our parents when we’re not careful. She’s not as bad as Marcus — but she’s not unlike Marcus in that she’s always wanting to be desired by everyone. It’s like being desired by that one person isn’t enough and a lot of people struggle with that. I always hear from people are in happy and healthy relationships, but when someone slides into their DMs, they’re still tempted, they’re still human they still want to be wanted. When Simone finds out that [Camden] has moved on, that kind of does something to her. I think we all experience that. When you’re on Instagram minding your own business and your ex is all of a sudden in a new relationship — the ex who you haven’t thought of in months and all of a sudden you’re feeling some kind of way about them. I think we wanted to play with that and we also pay homage to the movie throughout the series. Those true fans who are paying attention, we definitely take scenes from the movie and put them in a more modern setting and we did it with that scene. Tequan and Tetona are phenomenal. They knew each other prior to the show and they have a natural chemistry and spending time together in Atlanta, that even got more heightened.
DEADLINE: Throughout the first season, you created a narrative that explored relationships, queer identity, twentysomething angst and social issues like #MeToo. When writing the episodes — specifically the finale — how do you manage to avoid cliches and elevate these stories with inclusive nuance?
WAITHE: I try to write from a real grounded place. I don’t believe in telling people how to feel. I believe in work and art that asks more questions than it gives answers. One of my favorite anecdotes from Do The Right Thing is that some of the audience members ask Spike Lee, “Did they do the right thing? What do you want to take away from this?” The thing Spike would always say is “That is up to you.” The is a reason why he left you with two different quotes from two different men — one is from Martin Luther King, Jr., the other from Malcolm X. It’s all about where you’re coming from. You may think Mookie did the right thing, you may think he didn’t. At the end of the day, your experience is your own. That’s what we try to do with the show.
I also didn’t want to call attention to the fact that “oh! there are queer people hanging out with straight people!” because in my world, I hang out with a lot of straight people and me being gay never comes up. I didn’t want to be Pollyanna about it, but I wanted to be modern about it. Even in Atlanta, it’s such a mix and a melting pot because you do have the boys with the heels and you do have the masculine boys who enjoy the company of men and maybe women. You have a lesbian who appears very femme but is also a sex worker — I wanted to create these characters who were living in a world with no judgment. If they were judged about anything it would be more about their actions not about who they were. It’s a world that’s not a Utopia but the future, where we are going, where we are, where we can be. You’re never gonna have a show or movie that I’m involved in where there’s not going to be some queer representation. I will always show up in my work — and I happen to be a queer woman of color. Therefore are those things are going to be factors in my work.
DEADLINE: How does the ending set up what’s to come for season two?
WAITHE: Dime, Rishi and I have already started talking about what we want season two to be and where we want to go. The truth is, we want to go deeper into the characters. One of the great things about being online is that I get a lot of feedback from the audience. The big thing I picked up on is that they really love Ari (Leland B. Martin) — not just because he is cute but the fact that he is a bi-sexual man who is masculine presenting who marches to the beat of his own drum. So we definitely want to have more Ari-focused episodes.
People are also trying to figure out how to relate to Simone because she is a privileged kid and people don’t often see black privilege on TV so it’s kind of jarring for them. We want to go a little bit deeper into her trauma because trauma is always relatable no matter how rich a person is. She’s sort of messed up because she didn’t have the emotional support she needed in the home. I think people who didn’t grow up like her can relate to her more.
We don’t want to be cliche with the broken up couple. We always want to flip things on their head and surprise people. Also we found out that Crystal (Brittany Inge) is a fan favorite. She is someone people really want to know more about her and her history with David. We didn’t have a ton of space to explore that this season but next season we’ve been wanting to get into that. For me communicating with people on Twitter and Instagram is not just a pastime, it’s about being connected with my audience and community and making better art for them. We have a lot of things we want to explore next season with our eight episodes where the story will be more contained and precise. We’re excited to delve into it.
DEADLINE: Camden is back in the picture so we are probably going to see more of him. The core cast will be back of course for season 2, but can we expect other familiar faces to show up? Perhaps some people from the source material — and by that I mean Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry and Robin Givens?
WAITHE: This is what I’ll say: Simone’s mother might make an appearance. That’s all I’m going to say. I’m not trying to make any promises. Let’s just say Halle was very proud of the show myself, Dime and Rishi made and our amazing cast and crew. I think we really needed to prove ourselves before we had the likes of someone like Halle Berry come be on our show — and I think we have proven ourselves. We’ll see how schedules line up.
At the end of the day, we didn’t really want to put in the original cast members of the movie into the show because we wanted to be the Jaden Smith to the Boomerang movie — and I say that as a huge compliment to Jaden. He stepped out of both of his parents’ shadows and really made a name for himself. Also, another point I want to make is that I am a big Sex and the City fan and the cool thing that people never even realize is that in the show you never meet Carrie’s parents. They’re referenced and that’s very intentional on Michael Patrick King’s part and he’s a mentor of mine and someone I very much look up to. The reason why he did that is that there really comes a point in your life when you really become independent of the two people that made you and you are trying to figure out who you are what stamp you want to leave on the world. So there’s a part of me that, artistically, I might want to stay away from [including original cast members] on the show. If Halle says she’s free and might want to do something on the show, it might break the stride that we’re on. At the same time, she’s my boo, hero and a great partner and she wants to come and play it would be really cool. The audience would gag and they would love it. It’s also a big deal — Halle being on a scripted comedy on BET? Man, we have arrived. I’m not canceling it out. There is no definitive answer. I don’t want to say yes and then we can’t make it happen. Or artistically it may not make sense. Also, if we do it and works and it’s dope we kind of want it to be a surprise. We just want to give you something special and meaningful — we’ll see how it plays out.
DEADLINE: And finally, for the first season you used a lot of first-time TV directors. What made you want to use fresh talent and how was it like working with new artists behind the camera?
WAITHE: I am a big believer of giving people a turn at bat. We’re at a time in our industry where someone like me in a position of power to do that, I’m going to take advantage of that. I am grateful that BET and Paramount have given us carte blanche. It was a dream come true because they really let me do my thing. Some people stepped up to the bat, other people struggled. I was really grateful for the actors — they rose to the occasion and bonded. And all these directors — Dime Davis, AV Rockwell, Sean Frank, Tiffany Johnson, Juel Taylor — all African American. None of them have done TV before and they are now in the DGA. They all did a phenomenal job. These are all directors that I don’t think others would have given a shot. They only did shorts. I wanted to give them the opportunity to put their stamp on this show and share their gift with us. There was also David Warren a white gay man who loves Boomerang and is a great producer and director. There was also Isiah Donté Lee who was our DP. I am grateful for all these guys. They came together and didn’t drop the ball. You can see our blood, sweat and tears in this show. You can feel our heartbeat and our soul.
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