“I realized that no one has ever really done a TV show that is totally focused on men of color. That’s something I wanted to tackle. People are still talking about The Best Man, The Wood and The Brothers. It shows that there’s a real need for that type of thing,” she told Sister 2 Sister.
The drama, which premiered on Cinemax on March 29, revolves around five 30-something fraternity brothers who are about to embark on life-changing experiences, even though they might not know it yet.
“All five men, their life changes drastically, especially Dmitri,” the main character. “In the beginning of the season, he’s really a big man child, but things happen… He has to become a man,” explained Zane.
Dmitiri Vance is the Jump Off, a moniker he picked up on the football field. “He’s known for jumping over the defensive line and into the end zone,” said Zane. His friends include Fenwick “Woody” Wood, who manages Dmitri’s club; Spencer Martinez, a radio host; and Earnest Bishop, who was recently released from jail after being convicted for a white-collar crime.
For those keeping track, that’s an athlete, a nightclub manager, a brother in the entertainment industry and an ex-con. Though at first glance, it seems like a stereotypical lineup, Zane said the characters are layered and viewers will get to know them beyond those limited roles.
“In the first episode, I purposely almost played into every stereotype there is about Black men,” she said. “What’s going to happen is over the season, people are going to say, ‘Oh, wait a minute…These are real men. These are men who do have feelings, who do care, who are capable of love, who do have commitment issues, and do love their wives. They are good fathers.”
The fifth character on the show, Gabriel Turner, doesn’t fit the stereotype of the philandering or sexually repressed husband who can’t wait to escape from his wife. Instead, she created a happily married Black couple.
“I really thought it was important to show a couple who’s married, who love each other. They’re still romantic, they still are into one another, because we don’t see that a lot,” she said. “Most people have a very normal household and I just wanted to portray that.”
Though she said the series does a bit of a bait-and-switch, starting off as one thing but ultimately offering viewers something totally different, Zane said she wanted to keep the audience guessing.
“By episode 5, some people are probably going to be crying, but that’s what I wanted,” she said. “People have no idea how deep this show really is.”