If Irv Gotti ain’t up for an Emmy next year, I am going to have a serious attitude. I do not blow smoke or hop on bandwagons. If you know me in real life, then you know I am a harsh critique of television and film. My two degrees in English will not allow me to abide predictable plots or poor character development. Some shows or movies I can’t even watch because I know I will get upset. Trust me when I say this. Tales is changing the game and upping the ante for future programming on BET. The first episode explored the intricacies of race relations and turned the tables on status quo with its interpretation of “F*ck the Police.” The second episode, “Cold-Hearted,” tackled friendship, success, and loyalty through a non-sequential storyline. The third episode nearly mirrors the story from Notorious B.I.G.’s song “I Gotta Story to Tell” once again utilizing non-linear storytelling, yet exploring age old themes in new ways.
Notorious B.I.G. was known for his storytelling ability and figurative language. Both skills are exemplified in “I Gotta Story to Tell.” The song is half narration through rap and half recap in a conversation with his friends in the background. Listeners absorb the same story in twice, but in very different ways. The narrative/rap is told through Biggie’s flow, metaphors, double entendre, and puns. He reveals his thought process to us. He is vulnerable to us. The recap for his friends hides all of those emotions. It’s a bare bones, raw retelling.
Tales mirrors this idea. First, the audience experiences the story told through flashbacks and an omniscient camera that sees all and knows all. Once the ending is revealed, the main character, Slim, recaps the entire caper for his friends in less than thirty seconds. This episode touches on timeless archetypes. However, these archetypes have been reinvented and reinvigorated for a savvy, modern, yet urban audience.
The Masks We Wear
As individuals, we portray various roles for various people. How I behave around my friends is different from how I behave around my students which is different from how I behave around my husband and on and on. There is nothing new about this concept. Yet, the characters in Tales: I Gotta Story to Tell embody this in a contemporary way.
Ashley Santone is an Instagram celebrity and engaged to a NBA player. Her Instagram followers expect her to serve fashion, fun, and a carefree vibe. Behind that façade, she is lonely, vengeful, and insecure. None of those adjectives garner double taps or followers, but that is her truth.
Isaiah Whitlock is engaged to Ashley. He has a new contract, a gorgeous a woman, and beautiful mansion. But that isn’t enough. He must have another woman. That infidelity literally opens the door for his worst nightmare. When he sees that gun in Slim’s hand, his uber masculine image is shattered like glass. Muscles are no match for bullets.
Slim’s powerful, controlled bravado attracts Ashley. When he speaks, people obey. When he moves, people make way. Yet, for their brief encounter, Slim reveals a softer side to Ashley. He is transfixed by her. If she gave him the chance, he probably would have fallen in love with her. But she doesn’t, so he resumes his bravado as business as usual.
Woman to Woman
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. This idiom comes from the play “The Mourning Bride” written by William Congreve in 1697. For at least 400 years, humanity has understood that pissing of a woman is a bad idea. Cheating on your fiancée in the era of screen shots and social media guarantees that she will not only find out, but her embarrassment will be amplified and so will your punishment. Ashley deals with Isaiah’s public indiscretion with a private payback. Even when things don’t go as planned, Slim covers for her and she is in the clear. For a little while.
Detective Beatriz is not blinded by Ashley and Isaiah’s celebrity. She knows a troubled relationship when she sees one. Woman’s intuition leads her to interview the couple separately, ask for camera footage from the comedy club, and have an intimate conversation with Ashley. No one but a woman can understand how Detective Beatriz could read Ashley’s motive so quickly. Something in her vibe. Perhaps, a flash of the eyes or an odd hand gesture. The lesson is clear. Never underestimate a woman’s intuition. Mother always knows.
Which character from “I Gotta Story to Tell” did you identify with? Do you have a favorite Notorious B.I.G. lyric? Comment below. Please follow and share.
P.S. Can we have another moment in #blackgirlmagic for Elise Neal? #Memphian #assortedflavors