Web Series: 'Brooklyn. Blue. Sky' Searches for Creativity in Heartbreak
Breakups are no fun for anyone. The pain and embarrassment are near unbearable, not to mention the inevitable (and undesirable) task of dusting yourself off and moving on with life. Some emotional wounds heal, others linger and sting. Brooklyn. Blue. Sky. explores the residual effects of the latter through its main characters Blue (Michael Oloyede) and Skylar (Jenelle Simone), ex-lovers who decide to put their troubled past aside to write a television pilot.
As evidenced by their awkward, hostile encounter in the first episode (“Didn’t I Block You?”), Blue and Skylar are still clinging to the bitterness that resulted after their breakup. “I thought you never wanted to see me again,” Blue snaps off, rattled at the very sight of his ex. It’s a feeling that a great many young men (myself included) have experienced, and it hints at who broke things off without diving too deep into exposition. But, as will become a recurring theme throughout the series, the heavy dramatic lifting is done through extended conversation-- in this case, the quiet, warm pitch delivered by Skylar atop an apartment building. By the time she mentions the bit about entering a ‘Netflix and Chill’ pilot competition together, it's clear that Blue is hooked. He’s still carrying a torch for her, and whether he’s consciously aware of it, he’ll do whatever it takes to rekindle what they had.
These lovelorn emotions are at the heart of Brooklyn. Blue. Sky. As can be inferred from the naming of Blue, a play on the character’s downtrodden attitude, the series doesn’t exactly go in for nuance. But what it lacks in that regard it more than makes up for in earnest, painfully relatable content. The bulk of episode two (“FTB”) cuts between Blue talking with his family and Skylar talking with her roommate about whether reuniting is such a good idea. These are talks we’ve seen countless times on film and television, but the writers cut right to the root of each scene, pontificating in ways both dour and unintentionally funny (“I just said something so unbelievably profound and neither one of ya’ll are looking at me.”).
The series is very attuned to the ways in which romance has changed in the millennial age. There are countless references made to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram (Blue claims he blocked Skylar on the latter, only to have her create a new account), as well as dating apps like Tinder, which gets thoroughly vetted on the back half of the season. A breakup is no longer just a separation, it's a revamping of one’s entire digital identity, and Brooklyn. Blue. Sky. understands this. Furthermore, it never feels as though its posturing or feigning to be hip-- it naturally is, no doubt due to the input of young showrunners Rhavynn Drummer and Dui Jarrod.
Another aspect of the show that stands out is how it reconciles creativity and romance-- two things that are generally presented as inverse to one another. In the case of Blue and Skylar, whom Oloyede and Simone play with subdued passion, creativity and romance become intertwined. In order to pen a worthy fictional romance and win the ‘Netflix and Chill’ competition, they have to reignite the exuberance of their past, effectively bringing their personal relationship to the foreground for the sake of professional success. It’s a clever twist, and one the series capitalizes on in its best moments.
As is customary with a web series, the biggest problems with Brooklyn. Blue. Sky. stem from its inexpensive budget. The acting, particularly from newcomers like Roland Lane and Belle Caplis, can feel stiff at times, as well as some of the more colorful insults, which play as though the writers were trying to be too clever for their own good. Visually, there isn’t much to write home about either, as each episode has the grainy, static camerawork that anyone who’s seen a web series should be familiar with by now. These issues don’t ruin the show per say, they just keep it from reaching the polished excellence of something like Spike Lee’s recent Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It.
Like Lee, however, Drummer and Jarrod have a talent for capturing interpersonal relationships in a smart and alluring way. Brooklyn. Blue. Sky. is a brief viewing, at about thirty minutes in total, but I’d be remiss if I said it didn’t offer some worthwhile observations along the way. Recommended for romantics and cynics alike.
All eight episodes of Brooklyn. Blue. Sky. are currently available for streaming on BET.com and YouTube.