You already know that I didn’t like Superior Donuts Season 1. I thought it was full of not very progressive themes, when it was oddly enough, SUPPOSED TO BE PROGRESSIVE. They had a young black man and an older Jewish man working together. They actually made fun of white people and white feminism (while also trashing feminism all together). They had a female, a black and an Asian cop. Lastly, they had an Iranian muslim man who we were actually supposed to laugh WITH, rather than OF. But sadly enough, it never took the themes far enough (most of the time). In some episodes, such as the one with Fawz’s dry cleaning establishment being vandalized, it did a really good job. But whenever they brought up feminism, it failed. Remember the whole, donut shops are sexist because donuts look like vaginas gag?
Season 2 isn’t any more good at tackling feminism than season 1 was. Fawz is still sexist and asks an angry Randy (the white female cop) if she needs to go to the bathroom because she’s acting “hysterical.” In fact, they cut out two characters. The black male cop and Maya, the white feminist. However, they have included a latina woman to take her place and that has been really great so far. She’s not outwardly feminist, but she is proud to be Latina. In addition, she also loves “green” food and though Arthur feels threatened by that and is used for jokes, she is still seen as a good person, and so is her food. Though they did take out two characters, I’m glad they did. Those two didn’t add anything to the show at all. Maya was just there for the men to make fun of feminism, and the black cop was just there for comedic relief. Diane Guerrero does a much better job at representing women, and women of color at that. I feel as though the show is taking a step in the right direction.
This brings me to episode 2 of season 2 entitled, Is there a problem officer? It starts out with Randy coming in to the store - Superior Donuts - disheveled and angry. She had a long night as cop working by herself, and just wants some peace and quiet. Then, Sweatpants comes in showing Franco a video of their friend being thrown against a cop car. They realize that the cop is Randy and start to question her about it. She justifies it by saying it was a long night and she did what she had to do. She says they don’t know the whole story, and have no idea what they’re talking about. Franco does know. As a black man, he’s profiled as cops all the time. Hed defends himself, but never once mentions it’s because he’s black. He puts the focus on the cops and how they’re the ones with bias. Arthur comes in and defends Randy, saying that she’s a good person and refuses to see the video. Tensions run high and Randy leaves the shop and Franco ends their friendship. Franco and Arthur follow Randy on her next night shift and she catches them. However, before she can tell them off she has to respond to a burglary where she is shot, but not fatally. Franco and Sofia (Guerrero) talk about how now that Randy got shot, everyone’s going to forget about how she misused her power. Franco decides to go see her with the rest of the gang and tries to put the water under the bridge. However, when Arthur says that he’s happy Franco realized he was wrong, Franco finally stands up for himself. He never uses the word black, or racism, but what he says is clear. He tells them that they misuse their power and that they’re corrupt. He also says that he hates cops. Franco leaves and Arthur follows him out, agreeing to finally watch the video.
After Arthur sees the video, he talks with Randy saying that she needs to take a break. He doesn’t side with anyone, but says that she needs to take a step back from being a cop and to reevaluate herself. She agrees and Franco and her are able to remain friends. She might even learn from Franco about what it’s like to be a black man in Chicago.
What I love about this episode is that it tackles a deep issue without having to necessarily hammer it on the head. Franco doesn’t give a huge monologue about racism or persecution, rather he lets Arthur, and us, the audience, come to the conclusion ourselves. In addition we are able to hear both sides of the argument. Franco talks about his experiences and is believed, while Randy talks about her experiences and is believed until we see Franco’s pain. The show makes us think, if even his past friend getting shot won't make him forgive her, this must be serious. Arthur, the old cranky white guy, finally watches the video, not in a moment of force, but his own choice. Showing us that yes, we can hide in our privilege, but not forever. Not if we want to keep our friends of color. We have to hear them out and validate them, not only the cops. Lastly the conclusion is genius. Randy taking a break doesn’t mean she quits being a cop forever, and her and Franco are able to stay friends. Franco is right in that he should know who his friends are, especially if they’re a cop that has racial bias.
What I didn’t like about the episode was that we never delve into how Randy’s action isn’t an isolated incident. Arthur mentions all of the arguments used to protect cops and discount the victims of police brutality. One of which is “it was an isolated incident.” When in reality, it’s not. We later see Franco saying that the justice system is corrupt, but never talks to Arthur and says, this isn’t an isolated incident, black people and people of color experience this all the time. I guess the show didn’t want to hammer in the message that much, but it would have been nice to see.
But overall, the episode was genius. One of the best episodes tackling racism that I’ve ever seen. One of the best parts is that we, the audience, don't get to see the video, we are the judges and have to make it up in our minds. We have to reflect back on police brutality and don’t get it spoon fed to us. In addition, we don’t have to see a black body get maimed just so we “get the point” we just do. All we should have to know is that a person was unjustly assaulted. And that is enough.
In Superior Donut fashion, the jokes are quick and almost all of them are on the nose. I love the moment when they’re looking up who Randy’s shooter was and all the people of color pray that it’s not one of them. And when the race isn’t mentioned they all know, they were white. It was nice that in such a dark episode, the show could still kept it light hearted, yet respectful. Franco and Sofia’s talk about how people forget things is great. I thought they were gonna end it with with Randy getting shot and Franco making up, but it went a step further. It delved into what it’s ACTUALLY LIKE to be a POC and remember all the times a racist’s actions were excused because “they get bullied too.” In my opinion, it’s a 10/10 must watch.
23 year old English major and ESL Teacher. Currently living in Fortaleza, Brazil. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.