I’m typically very skeptical of any person who claims to be enlightened by inanimate objects. In fact, that’s usually red flag number one when I meet a person. But something about Lamorne Morris’s calm demeanor has me thinking I should give Woke the benefit of the doubt.
Hulu’s latest release, Woke follows Keef Knight, mild-mannered, non-political African American cartoonist whose close encounter with the police catapults him onto a path of personal and cultural identity. With a new perspective on how his identity impacts his life and the lives of people around him, Keef sets off on a new awkward journey. Almost immediately, Keef discovers the cost of being woke, and the more he tries to navigate his new understanding of self and society, the more opposition he faces. The series is inspired by the real artist Keith Knight and current political and personal events.
Woke, is a success from the start. Lamorne Morris plays the wide-eyed Keef Knight with a kind youthful naivety that many might wish they could still possess. Part of me wishes Keef could continue in his semi-deluded state. His career is about to take off, he’s happy and carefree. For a moment, you think maybe he can stay like this. Then the rug get’s ripped out from under him, and reality descends in the form of cartoon objects.
There lies the brilliance of Woke’s writing. We get through most of the first episode with relatively chill vibes. Keef has everything going for him—national syndication for his cartoon, a luxury apartment, a girlfriend. You start to settle into this kind of complacency. Then, BAM! In a moment everything changes. And Keef—like you—is jolted to reality.
Unable to ignore the racial and social injustices, Keef takes a very public stand. At first you cheer him on, then you become concerned. Because you know, just a little before Keef, that this small and warranted protest will have a profoundly negative impact on his future success. And just as you predicted, Keef begins his stumble through his newly found wokeness. In each of his blunders, viewers are confronted—comically—with the difficulty of being ‘woke.’ Because being woke, as the series points outs, is more than just a state of consciousness, it’s a daily protest against the establishment.
None of this may sound very comical—and it’s not in a strict definition of the word. The genius of Woke’s comedy lies in the Keef’s awkwardness and the cartoon elements. By using cartoons, the creators give viewers a bit of relief from the heaviness of the topic, without shying away from the topic. I mean, a talking Sharpie—no matter how insightful and intelligent—is always going to be absurd, which is sure to lighten any mood.
In doing so, Woke offers an honest portrayal of the life and struggles of African Americans. The show layers in issues like the hypocrisies of society, the absurdities of woke culture, and the difficulty to not only live but thrive.
The Bottom Line
In a time when social and political issues consume many of our lives, Woke stands out as an awkward, funny, and relevant series that tackles racial issues head-on. Everything from the script to the acting is flawlessly executed.