Web Series review
Blue Collar Hustle
Written by: Alonge Hawes | Directed by: Geoffrey Henderson | Genre: Drama | Length: Varies
"Blue Collar Hustle" is about finding that perfect balance of life and art - and if that fails? It's about going for the gold and chasing your dream.
Having just wrapped up it's first season, "Blue Collar Hustle" is a web series with some serious ambitions. Ajani (Alonge Hawes) is the poster boy of success at work. Having moved up the corporate ranks, when the show begins, he is running things locally and improving the companies bottom line considerably. Lifting the spirits of the people working under him, showing them that good things are possible if you work for them. Work life is good, home life is better. Beautiful supportive wife, new baby and that good job with some serious potential. What more could a young black man ask for in life? Shortly in, the answer to that question is revealed. Ajani's passion is music. Rhymes and hip-hop. It's at this point the rest of the main cast are "really" introduced and "Blue Collar Hustle" shifts from a life drama, to one of the arts. The juggling act becomes real as the crew burn the candle from both ends. Working, financing and recording, family life, relationships, it's all represented. Then of course, they have the strategies to come up with. "Blue Collar Hustle" is about finding that perfect balance of life and art - and if that fails? It's about going for the gold and chasing your dream. By the season finale the crew have their recordings. Mission accomplished. That's no real spoiler. Anyone who watches for more than five minutes will assume they would finish it. As much as this series promotes itself as being "about" the music, the music is usually just the connecting plot point. More-so later on. The real point is the choices themselves. Deciding the road you want to take. Is your/Ajani's true passion the idea of being successful at work? Or does it lie in the music? How much slack will your "true" friends give you, and how much will they take off your shoulders in support of you, doing what you love? Hawes has written a series that promotes music, questions the accepted idea of a successful black man and their families, and generally attempts to capture some of the magic of the industry. At the same time dramatically showing us that dreams and passion are not cheap, and don't happen without some real commitment. It doesn't hurt that the featured tracks kick ass either. Just saying.
But... Things are not perfect. They rarely are with low budget endeavors. The first episode struggled a little to find it's footing, but things do improve. Considerably. The problem is when things do start to get technically better, they have a tendency to slip back a few rungs. Then climb a little higher and slip again. All the technical woes rear their heads at some point or another. Weak audio. Weak video. What always does manage to feel top notch is the score itself. The songs never feel cheap and really add some credibility to the show.
Another area of concern was with the episodic content itself. The overall story of the series is clear, and the characters and their personalities are "reasonably" clear. It's the lack of drama that gets me. I don't mean within the main arc itself, I mean the little stories contained in each episode. In this case, the lack of them. "Blue Collar Hustle" remains focused on the main goal of the characters. The seasonal arc. The individual episodes "should" be individual stories with their own goals and drama. That doesn't really happen here. To some extent we get the sort of cliff-hanger ending, relating to the overall story, sometimes, but we never get a real conclusion to the individual episode - because there was never really anything to conclude. The main story just continues on with no mini stories filling the gaps. Maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but not by much. The best shows have mini stories that relate, sometimes indirectly to the main arc. This is the weakest production element of "Blue Collar Hustle" that these guys have to fix. It really does make a difference. The people like me, who watch this stuff, need to feel some kind of conclusion to each episode to keep us going. Even if that conclusion ends up being the acquisition of a bag of chips. There needs to be something.
Another thing I found myself noticing was the extreme amounts of talking in the show. Normally, when the actors are good this isn't a problem. Since the cast of "Blue Collar Hustle" happen to be good, you may be asking what the hell am I talking about? I'm talking about loads and loads of dialog that isn't needed. Filler lines I call them. There are conversations that go on for minutes and minutes - and those same conversations could probably be wrapped up in one minute or less. Maybe not all of them, but a good bunch. The focus should be on us seeing, not hearing.
This show has a lot of potential. I noticed a new trailer for season two and it looked technically superior. These guys are determined to make this show the best it can be. The first season wasn't perfect but damn well good enough to enjoy. I urge anyone reading this to click on over and check this show out. Season two looks like it's going to kick some serious ass. I'm really looking forward to that.
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