DISCLAIMER: Mild spoilers abound for Timewasters Season One.
What do you get when you combine a jazz quartet with time travel? An adventurous, delightful and thoughtful romp through the 1920s. IMDb TV is about to debut Timewasters, a half-hour comedy that initially premiered in 2017 on ITV2.
Created by Daniel Lawrence Taylor and penned by Taylor and Barunka O’Shaughnessy, Timewasters Season One follows a struggling four-piece jazz band as they travel through time in a pee-riddled elevator at the behest of a homeless man. They land in 1926 Edwardian London and soon learn what it means to be Black while living in the Jazz Age.
Timewasters also stars Taylor as the conscientious and paranoid Nick. Joining him is Samson Kayo as the overly optimistic Horace, Kadiff Kirwan as the charismatic Jason and Adelayo Adedayo as the feisty and honest Lauren.
The Social Commentary
Now, this show doesn’t shy away from tackling racism. Rather, it artfully and innovatively addresses the multiple facets of racism. Right away, when the quartet arrives in the 1920s, we see a sea of white faces scrutinizing their appearances.
There’s one episode wherein a white group steals their bands’ identity. Lauren makes a simultaneously keen and poignant observation: “Nothing sells Black music like white people.” If that isn’t a mic drop moment, I don’t know what is.
Additionally, there’s an older white man that’s inspired to pursue the arts thanks to Nick’s emphatic encouragement. He skyrockets to fame via an act that he does … in blackface. Think Al Jolson. He notes that Nick and co. are the impetus for this career move.
In another episode, Lauren’s own fame reaches new heights when she’s revealed to be the Wu-Tang Clan’s (Yes, Jason renames the band once they arrive in 1926.) drummer. Horace embarks on a side venture that culminates in noticeably offensive rag dolls of the band.
Then, there are the microaggressions that are pervasive throughout the season as our protagonists are surrounded by 1920s systemic racism. Timewasters deftly and brilliantly doles out social commentary in a way that packs a punch. Not to mention, the show addresses that you seldom see Black people take on time travel. Even on Doctor Who, they’re more like secondary or supporting characters as opposed to full-fledged leads.
The Characters and Music
Despite Season One only consisting of six episodes, Timewasters gives us fully fleshed-out, distinctly individual characters. From the first episode, you fall head over heels for them. You root for them and their journey to get home. The humor is sharp and the witticisms seamlessly flow like honey. The core cast has an easy chemistry with each other. There are moments that genuinely made me laugh out loud, which is rare for me.
In addition, the music is killer. We hear the quartet churn out modern songs with a swing twist. Stellar covers include Amy Winehouse‘s “Back to Black” and OutKast‘s “Hey Ya!” I would buy tickets to their shows if they were a real band.
Timewasters Season One is a clever, humorous outing boasting a unique premise and brimming with larger-than-life energy. It’s campy, observant and just plain fun. We’re blessed with a Black cast in a comedy about time travel — a combination that hasn’t existed until now.
Unfortunately, Timewasters was canceled, but I hope that its run on IMDb TV garners more exposure and perhaps a second life. It’s a breath of fresh air that deserves a wider audience.
Timewasters Seasons One and Two will be available to stream Friday, June 11, only on IMDb TV.
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