Netflixs The Unbelievable Jessica James opens on something many of us are all too very well known: a very bad Tinder date. Were introduced to James, played by the truly unbelievable Jessica Williams, sitting with her matchwhile fully participate in some terrible, first-date small talk. Almost immediately James shuts it down and, in savagely honest fashion, tells him all the reasons that they are not going to bone.
From the first scene we learn that James is a character we can relate to, but likewise admire. One we can empathize with, but also wish “were in” bold enough to be. Through her hilarious, genuine performance, Williams takes a script that is a typical millennial rom-com, and turns it into something more. She fills out the character, grounds her in reality, and induces us laugh sympathetically as James tries to get their own lives together following a messy breakup and a low degree in her career.
Williams’ James is an aspiring playwright, operating through her failings in New York. She satisfies a potential match, and from there our familiar setup is undercut by modern, internet age realities.
In this film, Williams plays a character who not only talks like she does IRL, use slanglike totes presh, but seems as self-aware as she is. At 22, Williamsbecame a very young correspondent on Jon Stewarts The Daily Show. When Stewart announced he would be leaving the depict, buzz around who would supplant him led devotees to point thumbs at Williams. When she tweeted that she would not be taking the position, because she didnt wishes to and felt unqualified, a very annoying piece from the Billfoldposited that Williams was suffering from being a woman with impostor disorder who needed to tilt in toward her potential. Williams took the time to check the publication in got a couple of defianttweets. She knew that if she didn’t control her own narrative, other people would.
I am a black woman and I am a feminist and I am so many things. I am truly honored that people enjoy my work. But I am not yours.
— Jessica R. Williams (@ msjwilly) February 17, 2015
No offense, but Lean the Fuck away from me for the next couple of days. I require a minute.
— Jessica R. Williams (@ msjwilly) February 17, 2015
Before retiring from The Daily Show , Williams started a podcast with fellow queen, comedian, and best friend Phoebe Robinson. Two years later, 2 Dope Queens continued to be one of the more popular podcasts on iTunes. They created an all-inclusive space for comedians of colouring and women to perform, and gained a huge following in the process. Now, at 27, rumors have it that Williams is developing her own scriptedComedy Central series.
Incredible Jessica James will whet your appetite for more of her work.
This is the second film Williams has starred in that’s written by Jim Strouse. She played a role in his 2015 film People Place Things. According to Brooklyn magazine, Strouse enjoyed Williams performance so much in that movie that he wrote this script, which he also directed, specifically with her in psyche.
Here Williams plays a black girl with a white best friend( Nol Wells, Master of None ); a black ex( Lakeith Stanfield, Get Out ); and a white rebound( Chris ODowd , Bridesmaids ). Though Strouse is a white man, the movie doesnt feel like a white gaze into a black womans life. James is also not defined by herrelationships, but by her ardour. Since Williams is a producer on this movie as well as the leading, its clear she took a lot of creative control to make sure her character went across as authentic. She sometimes used improvised lines in place of the script to make the scenes most realistic.
Nowhere in the film do the specific characteristics specifically talking here blackness. It’s a surprising move in the age of Dear, White Person and Get Out , yet it’s a relief thatWilliams lets her black characters to exist without an in-depth lesson on how has become still more awake. Yes, those works are important, but the main conflict of a narrative involving a black woman is not always about racism or bondage. Sometimes its about taking the next step in a career, “re going through” a breakup, or only finding the right vibrator.
Jessica Jamesis the quintessential, relatable 20 -something who moved to New York City to escape her hometown. She is a young adult trying to do the thing she adoration the most, in her suit screenwriting, and is afraid that the thing she desires the most doesnt necessarily love her back. Yet Jessica James symbolizes a type of resilience that not every 20 -something has.
In a series of detailed hits inside James apartment, we see screenplays shes written, playbills of some of the reveals shes attended, her degree from Carnegie Mellon University, and other things that exemplify the passion she has for her art. But the most prominent thing in her apartment is a wall of abandonment letters she has received from theater corporations she mailed work to.The idea of having rejection literally hanging overhead is daunting, but she embraces it.
James is not without her anxieties. Shes not above stalking her ex on Instagram, lying to a date about her many job possibilities, or telling her parents that everything is going fine when everything seems like it couldnt get any worse. Thats what constructs Jessica James a great character: Williams gives us a performance that reminds us “thats been” human, and that falling downis not something to be ashamed of.