Gordon Streaming | Part II: Television
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these television shows do not necessarily reflect those of Gordon College. We defer to the readers to determine what content they feel comfortable watching.
Three weeks ago on February 8, Jennifer Lopez and Maluma performed songs from their new feature film Marry Me on Peacock’s TikTok—and line producer Shelby Sundling ’96 was there to make sure the one-hour, live-streamed concert ran smoothly. But this Emmy-winner isn’t the only Gordon graduate to make a splash in the television industry in recent years, which brings us to Part II in The Bell’s streaming series.
In this installation, you’ll meet sitcom-writers, visual effects artists and a beloved Gordon comedian who has made his way to Netflix and HBO. Enjoy!
Genres: Comedy, sitcom
This two-season SAFTA-winning comedy follows Thuli, a successful Black professional, grappling with the realities of what South Africans call “Black Tax.” Executive producer, director and lead writer Joshua Rous ’01 explains, “The concept of Black Tax itself is a very interesting, somewhat controversial term that refers to the idea that as a Black, Indian or mixed-race person growing up in South Africa—once you start earning money it’s like an unwritten rule that you have got to support and pay back the people who helped you get where you got.”
While the show highlights many comedic situations that arise from the Black Tax—like having a nephew sleep on a mattress on your living room floor for a few months while he’s trying to find a job—Rous says, “It’s written with a deep respect. Many people I spoke with felt a great sense of honor getting to pay Black Tax.” At the same time, the show doesn’t shy away from its challenges. “Black Tax can be crushing,” explains Rous. “People who are just getting started are constantly having to send money home.” In that way, the show provides some catharsis.
If you live on the African continent, you can watch the first two seasons of Black Tax on BET through DStv or Showmax. If you live elsewhere, you will have to wait until the show gets picked up by other streaming services that are available in your country. Rumor has it that season three may be in production soon! You can see more of Rous’ recent SAFTA-winning work by checking out Inconceivable (2020) on M-Net.
When The Office moved from Netflix to Peacock, Kyle Gordon’s ’11 visual effects company, Tower 33, was hired to add in never-before-scenes for the superfan episodes. Of all the deleted scenes they’ve added back in so far, there is one that is Gordon’s favorite. He says, “We worked on an episode where Jim and Pam convince Dwight he’s in The Matrix. It’s this big, elaborate ruse and the show cut it for screen time.” See it for yourself on Peacock.
To appreciate more of the visual effects coming out of Tower 33 (and from Tower 33 visual effects artist Dan Waldron ’10), be sure to watch Modern Family, Saved by the Bell (2020), Cobra Kai, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Never Have I Ever, The Shrink Next Door and more on Tower 33’s website.
Genres: Documentary, action
Emmy-winner Shelby Sundling ’96 was the line producer on David Blaine’s latest televised live stunt: flying almost 25,000 feet over the Arizona desert using large weather balloons. For Blaine, the stunt was born out of a desire to do something beautiful for his nine-year-old daughter. And really what’s more wonderful than watching a person rise up into the clouds while holding onto a handful of helium balloons? It’s a fanciful act of endurance that brings the magic of Pixar’s Up and Disney’s Marry Poppins to the real world. You can watch the entire live event on YouTube.
To see more of Sundling’s work, you can rewatch Celebrating America: An Inauguration Night Special(2021), The Queen Family Singalong (2021), Marry Me Tonight! Jennifer Lopez and Maluma Live (2022) and mark your calendars for the 94th Academy Awards ceremony.
Genres: Comedy, documentary
Over a decade ago, Jack Hanke ’17 met Noah Britton, Ethan Finlan and New Michael Ingemi at a camp for kids on the autism spectrum. Together, they now form Asperger’s Are Us—a comedy troupe of friends with Asperger’s that have performed more than 100 shows in nine different countries. In this six-part documentary series on HBO Max, you can follow Hanke and his friends on a cross-country comedy tour from Boston to Los Angeles that, according to the HBO description, will “test their understanding of friendship, comedy and carburetors”.
If you don’t have an HBO subscription, you can watch the original Asperger’s Are Us (2016) documentary on Netflix or read HBO’s interview with Hanke at the Tribeca Film Festival. You can also read more about Hanke on The Bell.