Review: “Avant-Guardians” is a refreshing, original take on the human condition

Razz, an angle with afro puffs and combat boots, sits in a wood-paneled office with her feet on a desk. opposite her, her guardian angel therapist, wearing a long braid with gold entwined and a stark white jumpsuit, sits patiently, waiting to her her complaints.

In the midst of all of the Black Panther coverage, I was informed about this awesome webseries Avant-Guardians. I can truly say I’ve never seen anything like it before.
Avant-Guardians, created by comedian and writer Alesia Etinoff, stars Zainab Johnson (Last Comic Standing, Def Comedy Jam) as an angelic counselor and Etinoff as Razz, a “woke(ish) Guardian Angel to the 3rd Black President,” currently a child who needs just as much guidance and nurturing as Razz does. This is why God orders Razz to go see a therapist angel.
The series has received a ton of press, and for good reason:
Most recently, SHADOW & ACT praised the series on it’s wit, leading to over 1.5K likes and 600 RTs in 24hrs on their Twitter post, and over 600 direct article shares. BUST Magazine called it “hip and refreshing” in which HBO’s Insecure star Yvonne Orii retweeted it and congratulated us on its success (she also did stand up at the screening back in November). TubeFilter and Decider wrote glowing reviews, find it here and here, respectfully. Elizabeth Banks’ site, Whohaha called it “brilliant,” and BitchMedia put it on their “Three Webseries Feminists Should Watch” list.

What I loved about the show is that it’s as timely as it is funny, as unique and original as it is comforting and reminiscent of some of TV’s more interesting shows weaving life lessons into fantasy, such as Touched By an Angel. In fact, I’d say if I had to describe this show to anyone interested in watching it, they should probably think of it as a Touched By an Angel meets Awkward Black Girl. It’s Afrofuturistic, thanks to the awesome costume design by Efi Turkson, makeup by Sydnee Horn, hair by Haus of Andi, art direction by Rudy Grazziani, production design by Miranda Lorezn, and graphic design by Hannah Woods. It’s otherworldly while still representing a heavenly therapist office as a recognizable loft-style office building. And, it says some of the most unspoken but much-needed messages about faith, religion, and humanity, things I’ve never heard in a TV show before, but have definitely thought about on a regular basis.

I don’t talk about it a lot on this site, but I’m a deeply spiritual person. Some folks think you have to go to church to be such, but I meditate on God’s will on a daily basis. As such, I feel like God is constantly telling us to be the change we want to see; that God has given us the tools to achieve Their will, and they are constantly calling on us to use that bit of God that’s within each of us. God doesn’t do our work for us; we have to do it, but first we have to realize when God is speaking to us and what he’s calling us to do. Unfortunately, too many of us forget to listen or don’t know to listen. Even worse, many of us can feel like we’re not even worthy enough to listen. Avant-Guardians explores the themes of self-actualization, spiritual responsibility, and the unfortunate loss of sense of self we can feel by weaving in discussion about transphobia and homophobia, mass incarceration, bullying, suicide, and depression. The show also masterfully weaves in commentary on how black women have been historically turned into not just the mule of the world, but the butt of the joke, all because too many forget the power black women have.

Avant-Guardians packs a punch in its small running time, but once you start watching it, you won’t want to stop. You’ll also wonder how you can take some of these angels style with you into real life, because these angels are fashionable.

You can watch Avant-Guardians at its website. You can also check out Avant-Guardians on Facebook at @AvantGuardiansTheSeries, on Instagram at @AvantGuardians, and Twitter at @Avant_Guardians.

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