One of my favorite facts about Black folk is how serious our relationship is with our barber or stylist. You trusting that person with the lifeline of your hairline. It’s a sacred bond. If I can geek translate for a moment, for Black people, the barbershop is like the hidden villages from Naruto. You grew up in that village, you go out into the world, but you always come back home.
Your barber be your therapist, confidente, and news anchor. The barbershop is essentially the Agora of the masses for the masses. Everyone comes together to congregate and talk on everything. You’ll never hear folk speak more passionately on topics than when you are at the barbershop. LeBron James’ The Shop series is evidence of that fact.
“In the barbershop you can’t lie. Someone will call you out”
The Shop HBO series is a visual for how barbershops are the original podcasts. People, multiple people at times, give their own opinions on a range of topics. We got LeBron James and Maverick Carter uninterrupted bringing you the likes of Draymond Greene, Vince Staples, Candice Parker, Odell Beckham Jr., Snoop Dog, Jarod Carmichael, Michael Bennet, and Jon Stewart. These artists and athletes from different points of entertainment are gathered together to talk that shit. I enjoy hearing people being able to speak passionately. Seeing LeBron cursing and talking on his regular shit is a light we don’t get to see him in too often. I enjoy getting to see entertainers get a space to be themselves.
The ensemble navigates through the importance of the environment barbershops provide for Black folk. How politics is an unavoidable topic in the shop. It’s almost impossible to just talk about sports because sports leans into politics, which leans into social issues. We see LeBron asked about what made him become more social, how Black people and Black culture dictate what the wave is, and the treatment of Black folk outside of the states.
*Thor voice* BRING ME THE HOT TAAAAAAAKES!
I’m not even a big sports guy but even I know the significance behind Draymond Greene giving LeBron James his props and recognizing the very moment when LeBron became himself on the court. Again, I’m not a sports guy but I can sit and listen to people talking about sports. I enjoy people, athletes, comedians, who the hell ever, talking about the things they are passionate about. There’s a moment where Jon Stewart talks about knowing that his time had come on The Daily Show because he had become lazy and more relaxed. How he decided it was time for someone else to take the baton (what up Trevor Noah!). LeBron correlating that with regaining his passion for basketball by being at his sons AAU game. It’s cool to see how athletes and entertainers are able to intertwine and relate to one another over their art/profession/love whatever you wanna call it.
Hands down, my favorite part was Jerrod Carmichael hating on Hamilton. OooOooOh my gawd, I was floored! I mean — Hey, I liked Hamilton. But when Jerrod said mans said, “I think the frustration comes from me having to watch people pretend Hamilton was good. People from the upper west side telling me what good rap was. Hamilton was at best, the best community center performance that I’ve ever seen.” That’s when I knew we had the authentic Shop experience. If you ain’t roasting something then what are we even talking about? Shout out to Jon Stewart for trying to compromise with him in defense for Hamilton. That shit was hilarious.
Even when something you love is getting lambasted you can still appreciate that not everyone is going to fuck with what you fuck with. That honestly vicious and playful atmosphere is what makes the barbershop experience. That The Shop is able to capture that is the perfect testament to watch this series. There’s a bunch of discussions being had within the show and everyone at some point becomes the moderator or chimes in. Some more than others. There are some elements of the show that can be approved on, like, the number of women present getting upped. However, this is only season one, so there’s a lot of time for change to be made.
If you enjoy seeing entertainers express their views and opinions then you’ll wanna check out The Shop on HBO and HBO on Demand.
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