As hilarious and insightful as Danny McBride and Jody Hill’s Eastbound & Down followup, Vice Principals, can be (see our review here), the limited comedy series co-starring Walton Goggins isn’t without its critics. Especially those who, like Variety‘s Sonia Saraiya, consider the 18-episode narrative to be nothing more than a “tedious, unfunny attempt to empathize with two bigoted dudebros.” It’s a critique that, considering Neal Gamby (McBride) and Lee Russell’s (Goggins) hugely inappropriate words, thoughts and actions regarding rival administrator Dr. Belinda Brown, isn’t without merit.
Goggins recently told Uproxx “art should be polarizing,” and the actress who plays Brown, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, agrees. As she put it to Vanity Fair, criticizing Gamby and Russell’s (and, therefore, the show and its creators’) treatment of her character is nothing more than a “knee-jerk response” to what’s actually happening. After all, she argues Vice Principals is principally about “white-male entitlement,” and that the best way to dramatize and satirize such behavior is to throw a “black female body” into the mix and see what happens.
“I don’t think we would respond in the exact same way if Melissa McCarthy was the principal, and they did the exact same thing [to her],” Gregory explains. “As a nation, as viewers, as [an] industry, we have to be ready to accept black women specifically competing and maybe getting what appears to be attacked by white men. That, to me, is casting equality.”
Gregory, who pursued undergraduate work in psychology and graduate work in social work, admits she’s “fascinated by [the] response.” Especially since, “as a woman of color,” she knows all too well that “competing against white men for something is not novel.” It remains, unfortunately, a feature of everyday life for many people in the United States. Hence why Gregory doesn’t think the show is as “racist” or as sexist as some reviewers have suggested. Instead, it simply presents “how it is” in real life — albeit with a few more “motherf*ckers” thrown in.
(Via Vanity Fair)