HBO's 'Random Acts Of Flyness' Is Random For A Reason

Mariama Diallo and Jamund Washington, both of whom helped write and direct "Random Acts," say they want the show to provoke conversation.

HBO's 'Random Acts Of Flyness' Is Random For A Reason
HBO / "Random Acts of Flyness"

HBO's new late-night series, "Random Acts of Flyness," has been called dreamlike, "provocative and weird." But those words don't really scratch the surface of what the show is.

"It's been a long road of trying to describe it to my friends and family," said writer and director Mariama Diallo. 

"It'll be so much easier to describe when you can just say, 'Watch it,'" added Exec. Producer Jamund Washington.

"Random Acts of Flyness" uses short interwoven documentaries, animation and music to explore "evergreen cultural idioms such as patriarchy, white supremacy and sensuality from a new, thought-provoking perspective."

The show was created by filmmaker Terence Nance, and the segments were based on conversations in an unorthodox writers room. Mariama Diallo and Jamund Washington, both of whom wrote and directed for the show, said it was a very collaborative effort. 

"We would start each day, you know, with a meditation which, as I've gone on to speak to people who worked in other writers rooms, is incredibly unusual, but it was a really nurturing process. And it was really about digging into our lives and our lived experiences. And finding what we wanted to comment on about that," Diallo said.

"We definitely wanted it to feel like home and, like Mariama said, it was just about sort of putting all of the writers in a position to be comfortable, so we could just have these conversations. And the topics all sparked out of those conversations. There was no preset ideas of what it should become," Washington said.

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Reviewers have compared "Random Acts of Flyness" to shows like "Atlanta" or films like "Sorry To Bother You." Both of these works use a combination of real and surreal elements to highlight important social issues, as well as honestly portray black identity. 

Critics say works of art like this are contributing to the "resurgence of Afro-Surrealism" — a movement that uses artistic absurdities to address the real absurdities of oppression.

The term was first coined in 1974, when writer Amiri Baracka described it as "creating an entirely different world organically connected to this one" based on contemporary black life and aesthetic.

But despite the visual and thematic ties between works of afro-surrealism and "Random Acts of Flyness," Washington and Diallo say it wasn't intentional.

"I don't know that we necessarily knew we were using surrealism as much as just like, creating the things that came out of these conversations and sort of in the stream of consciousness. And when we put those things together, you know, to an audience that may feel like surrealism, but I don't think it was a conscious effort to go towards surrealism," Washington said. 

"Really it was about communicating emotions and experiences in an authentic way," Diallo said.

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"Random Acts of Flyness" comes out August 3rd.