Woke S1 Review
By Maia Vines
Hulu’s new show, Woke, tells the story of Keef Knight, a black cartoonist living in the San Francisco-Bay Area who battles with issues of racial injustices and stereotypes that make up his everyday life. After an incident in which he is racially profiled and mistaken for a mugger, Keef, played by Lamorne Morris, has an awakening, eventually deciding to make his life’s work more meaningful.
The show, which was released on Sept. 9, is co-created by award-winning cartoonist himself, Keith Knight, known for comic strips like the K Chronicles and (Th)ink, surrounding race and politics. Throughout the series, the protagonist is often conflicted about whether he should openly confront race issues and take a stand, possibly risking his career and personal relationships. He receives a push from personified objects like alcoholic drinks and trash cans but oftentimes change is his last resort, even attempting to get his old job back by backpedaling on his own views out of fear.
Keef struggles with both being a creative in a bustling city as well as being a black man faced with making a difference or becoming a bystander. This show also touches on the perceptions of black people in white-dominated fields like when Keef is invited to a wealthy party for artists in which he is the only black person and is treated like an attraction.
The cast of Woke is funny and diverse, offering blunt humor to the show’s pressing message. Actors T. Murph and Blake Anderson play Keef’s roommates who offer him support and sometimes quite the opposite, often leaving him even more confused. Ayana, played by Sasheer Zamata, works as a reporter for the Bay Arean newspaper and assists Keef in his rebranding.
Despite Keef’s own conflictions, his character becomes more confident in his own beliefs during the season, allowing his cartoons to reflect this change. The show’s depiction of underrepresented black artists in the 21st century is eye-opening. Keith Knight’s Woke is a recommended watch and if there is a second season, hopefully the creators will explore more of Keef’s own backstory and how he became a cartoonist.