After Working On 'Insecure,' Phil Augusta Jackson Created 'Grand Crew,' A Broadcast Network Comedy On Black Male Friendship
Photo Credit: Kwaku Alston/NBC
Television , Interviews

After Working On 'Insecure,' Phil Augusta Jackson Created 'Grand Crew,' A Broadcast Network Comedy On Black Male Friendship

NBC’s latest sitcom, aptly-titled Grand Crew, gives us laughs and good wine.

The show follows a of young professionals navigating the ups and downs of life and love in the City of Angels. In the midst of it all, they meet at their favorite hangout spot to "wine down" and unpack it all. 

There's Noah, a hopeless romantic too eager to settle down; Nicky, a go-getter in real estate who's adventurous in romance; Sherm, a low-key genius who plays the dating odds; Anthony, whose true love is his career; Wyatt, who's relieved to be married and out of the dating scene; and Fay, who's recently divorced and looking to start fresh in LA. And just like wine, their friendship gets better with time.

Nicole Byer, Justin Cunningham, Aaron Jennings, Echo Kellum, Grasie Mercedes and Carl Tart star in the series and Insecure and Brooklyn Nine-Nine writer Phil Augusta Jackson is the creator behind it. 

"Each job that I've had up to this point, I've just been taking best practices and figuring out what's what works about these shows," said Jackson in a recent interview with Shadow and Act.

“Thankfully, I’ve been [a part of] really successful shows. Now, being in a position where, I get to to run this show, I’m definitely been using the experience that I got from Issa and Prentice on Insecure, from Dan on Brooklyn Nine-Nine from Mike O’Malley on Survivor’s Remorse and Jordan [Peele] and Keegan [Michael-Key] on Key & Peele. It’s been a learning experience, but I think felt like the next natural step.”

After the finale of Insecure, sportscaster Mike Hill recently tweeted that there aren’t enough shows that depict men of color who are positive and successful as central characters. But, while it’s not a male-fronted version of Insecure, Grand Crew is pretty much what viewers seeking that could look for. While Jackson didn’t set out with that specific mind frame, he’s happy that the representation is out there.

“I would say overall that there is room for more Black content period. My hope is that there’s more Black content period moving forward,” Jackson said. “I think overall with this show specifically that was not top of mind for me. It wasn’t about filling a void. However I am a black man, I do hang out at a wine bar with my friends and we do unpack the ups and downs of our lives and that felt like the most exciting and honest idea to bring to the table at NBC. So if it does fill a void for people, I think that’s incredible but at the end of the day I hope people find it fun, funny, and endearing. I want it to be a feel-good show just given the environmental landscape that we live in today. There is space for a show that’s like, ‘Hey, this is funny, it feels good to watch, and there’s some good jokes in there.’ That’s the core.”

On the show's cast, which has mostly fresh faces aside from Nicole Byer and 'Arrow' alum Echo Kellum, Jackson says that he got to be very "hands-on" with casting with Susie Ferris.

“The beautiful thing with the show is that three out of the six cast members had been longtime friends of mine. I’ve known Nicole Byer since 2009. We still perform together, not as much recently, but we perform together. [And] Echo and Carl, I’ve known those guys for the better part of a decade. And then when it came to Gracie, Justin and Aaron, they were such a natural fit and they all have such great chemistry together. That crew felt right for this show specifically. And I’m thankful that we got people that I do know and also people that I didn’t know before this moment that I’m tremendous fans of now”

Watch the full interview below. The show airs every Tuesday on NBC:

 

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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