After a years-long journey to make it to television, The Ms. Pat Show is finally on television a BET+ original series.
Based on Ms. Pat’s stand-up comedy and memoir, the show "is the story of a former convicted felon turned suburban mom and stand-up comedian, whose hustle and resilient spirit were forged on the streets of Atlanta. To much reserve, she now finds herself in conservative middle America alongside her penny-pinching husband played (J. Bernard Calloway) a struggle of a sister played (Tami Roman) and two distinct sets of kids (Theodore Barnes,, Briyana Guadalupe, Vince Swann and Brittany Inge) he latter two raised under very different circumstances.
At a panel for the show during the Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour, executive producer Lee Daniels, creator/star/executive producer Patricia "Ms. Pat" Williams and creator/executive producer Jordan E. Cooper talked to TCA members about the series.
If you remember correctly, Daniels and Williams have been working on the show for a while. It was once in development at Fox and then moved to Hulu. Now, with Cooper at the helm, the project has finally arrived on BET+, and it is getting a strong response from viewers.
"This has been a long, long journey for all of us," said Daniels. "For Pat and I in particular, years before we were trying to find the right writer, find the right visionary for it, trying to fight studios and networks that wanted to do it but was afraid to do it because it was too Black. It was too real. I think that we've never seen a voice like this on television. I think it’s some groundbreaking work from both Jordan and this incredible new talent, Pat. So that was the reason why I got behind it. I felt that it was worth the fight, years of fighting to make sure this was on the air. I do think that that's the reason why I got behind and I couldn't be prouder of both of them."
Williams also talked about being a Black woman leading a comedy series. Black women-led comedies are currently seeing a surge on television.
She explained, 'It means a lot because this is the first time a Black woman and mother has been on TV, if I'm not mistaken. I’m going to have to check it out with Jordan, the TV fanatic. And about, what, 20 years since Thea. That was the last time a Black woman had her own show. So that meant a lot when Lee hooked up me and Jordan. And the Black girl magic, I'm just proud to be out front and to be a different type of mom where I don't have to be chopping vegetables. And thanks to Jordan and Lee, I became a real woman on TV. I’m a convicted felon, so you get to see a side of a mama Hollywood really don't want you to see other than on Cops. So I'm representing Black girl magic, all kind of magic, baby. Ain’t nobody been to jail. I'm your mama."
As viewers who have already seen the show know, there is a storyline around Ms. Pat's oldest daughter coming out to her after she makes some homophobic-tinged remarks. Like much of the show, it is a story pulled from Ms. Pat's life and is something Cooper was eager to bring to the show.
"So often you're asked to choose, either you're Black or you're gay, you can't be both," he said. "And I wanted to be able to kind of further those conversations within the Black community, the world's community at large, through comedy, to kind of get a little deeper in this conversation of queerness when it comes to being queer, when it comes to being gay, when it comes to being non-binary, when it comes to being trans. What is all of that and how does that work with blackness? And I felt like it was just the perfect vehicle to be able to have those conversations, real conversations, and not just on a preaching pedestal but actually sitting down at the dinner table and having a conversation."
Cooper also talked about wanting to tackle the Norman Lear way of having these conversations.
"As soon as I had my first conversation with Pat about the type of show that I wanted to do, all I could mention was Norman Lear," he continued. "I just kept saying his name over and over and over and over again because I feel like he really created the type of sitcom where you can use it as a Trojan horse to really have conversations, hard conversations, and put them in living rooms where they never would've been had before. And Pat naturally does that with her stand-up and with her book and with her life. So, I just thought that taking her life and her comedy and dropping it into this Norman Lear-ian kind of format, but breaking the door open with language and conversations even further than he went, that was just the goal for me. And the fact that he saw the pilot and called me and Pat and just told us how much he loved it was just ridiculous. I still don't have the words for it.
The first season of The Ms. Pat Show is now streaming on BET+.