– TV Show Review –
By CHARITY CHUKWU
The Dallas Examiner
In a spin-off to Tyler Perry’s Sistas, Bruh follows four college pals helping each other pursue fulfilling careers and relationships as they navigate life in their 30s through the strength of their brother-like bond in Atlanta. The dramedy portrays a healthy and diverse view of Black male friendship while confronting some of the stereotypes men of color often face.
The show is written, directed and executive produced by Tyler Perry. Michelle Sneed also serves as executive producer.
Bruh stars Barry Brewer as Jonathan “John” Watts, a businessman; Mahdi Cocci as Tom Brooks, a doctor; Phillip Mullings Jr. as attorney Mike Alexander; and Monti Washington as Bill Frazier, who works as an architect. Additional cast includes Chandra Currelley as Alice Watts, John’s mother; Candice Renée as Regina, the ex-girlfriend Bill wants back; and Alyssa Goss as Pamela, Mike’s casual girlfriend.
This season is filled with drama and division among the bruhs, according to Cocci.
“Sometimes you’re at odds with the people you love. I think there’s going to be a lot of moments where some of the fans may not like it at first, but just stick with it and you know remember the obstacle is the way sometimes, you have to watch to see if you can get through it or not,” he said.
Season two picks up with three of the men trying to convince Bill to stay in town as he tries to win back Regina by following her to Los Angeles. Mike quickly hatches a plan to bring Bill’s ex into the picture, leading to a messy love triangle.
However, Mike realizes he has his own demons to battle this time around and quickly learns he can’t take everything on by himself.
“Mike really has to figure out that he can’t be this person who doesn’t really take advice,” said Mullings Jr. about his character. “I think he thinks that he is whole by himself and he doesn’t need his friends and they’re just extra in his life and he can go with or without them. That’s not the case, you need people in your life that support you and love you and cherish your presence.”
An old friend is welcomed to the group when Tom’s college roommate, Greg played by Shawn Vaughn (This is 20), decides to move to Atlanta and start anew after getting divorced.
John still struggles to find career success so he can be secure enough to pursue a relationship, which his friends hope will motivate him stop living with his mom and move out on his own. As the crew faces a brand-new set of challenges their bond is strengthened with tough love and brutal honesty, but through it all they manage to be there for each other with consistent compassion and humor.
“A lot of our storylines and all of us and our characters come to help and assist and try to be in our own version, in our own way of helping, helping,” Brewer reflected. “Like the first season me, John, doing bad decision and Tom trying to help me and everyone really wanting to help me. Even Mike in his reluctant state having that tough love. Even being able to identify that. I just think that that always strengthens the relationship when you go through trial and tribulations to know that whoever was there through that moment, they’re there then that means everything, and you all are closer because of that.”
Other stars introduced this season include Liz Lafontant (The Oval) as Natalie, a yoga instructor and Bill’s ex-girlfriend. Ebony N. Mayo (Star) plays Littia, a bartender at the men’s hangout spot. After an unpleasant interaction with a drunken Mike, she takes an interest in John who shows her a gentler side of the group. Quei Tann (How To Get Away With Murder) plays Tom’s neighbor Officer Darla Grills. While investigating a carjacking in the area, she connects with one of the friends.
The new additions will restructure this season in unexpected ways adding depth and building character onto the main cast.
“I think each character comes in and shines in a different way. For me it was really cool to see Littia being such a big part of John’s life, and the officer being a big part of Tom’s life,” Mullings said. “As far as Greg and Shawn Vaughn Jr. coming in, that really shakes up the relationships between the bruhs because it was a relationship that existed before, but you really didn’t get a chance to see it. I think each character shines a bit but the finale, you’ll see.”
What is most important to the cast is showing how each of the characters support each other and making sure it is truly representative of how Black men interact with each other in real life.
“We all want each other to win and we’re all here to contribute all we can contribute to each other’s lives. The thing I love that it displays also is the vulnerable side I know of Black men being regular people,” Brewer observed.
He said that there often aren’t men depicted on TV showing their vulnerable parts. “You already see women and their journey of a relationship and how sad they are and how they get through their breakups, but you get to see the other side of that. It might not be us being broken up or breaking up, but just the emotional side of a man and how he manages and journeys that.”
On top of everything, Mullings appreciated that the love Black men show for each other was being highlighted and shown in a nonjudgmental way in the show.
“I genuinely love these guys and there’s no beef, no hostility amongst us. I mean we go through our tiffs and our arguments, whatever it is, we’re brothers and we love each other. I love the fact that there is love amongst Black men being portrayed onscreen,” he remarked.
As the show moves into its sophomore season, the differences in the friends are brought to light, especially when it comes to how they deal with their feelings.
“You’re going to get to see Black men processing emotions. Black men dealing with stuff. And it’s good to see that on TV and get to normalize Black men is not some monolith,” Washington explained. “We’re not victims, we’re not all super successful, we’re not all locked up in jail. You get to see the full spectrum, and the show really normalizes that. I think that kind of speaks to a lot of issues and a lot of the situations going on with Black men and the Black community specifically.”
For Cocci, communication between the bruhs this season has been key in elevating the conversations had on the show making it easier to see the strong bonds each of the characters have with each other.
“I think along with the love that you’ll see is there’s disagreements that come along with that because when you love each other and you’re close, we’re still opinionated and we’re still passionate, so we have those. And that’s what I love about this season even more so than last season is that we have those discussions in the round,” he said.
“And you see that in some of the episodes where people have different opinions whether it be like overall world issues or individual bruh issues. And we’re kind of expressing that and sometimes that’s not pretty in our disagreements, but that’s life and that’s just of symbol of brotherly love.”
Due to the coronavirus outbreak last year, the first season used a quarantine bubble model, sequestering the cast and crew on the lot for the duration of a shoot meaning all 19 episodes were shot in a total of just four days.
The show premiered May 27 on the streaming service BET+ with three episodes at the launch, then moved a to a weekly Thursday rollout thereafter. The program is rated TV-MA.