Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Wednesday, July 31. All times are Eastern.
Jane The Virgin (The CW, 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., series finale): Oh, Jane The Virgin. We miss you already. Luckily, before we say goodbye, we get both “Chapter 99” and “Chapter 100.”
The first, airing at 8 p.m., is a farewell special of sorts, featuring interviews with Gina Rodriguez (Jane), Andrea Navedo (Xo), Yael Grobglas (Petra), Justin Baldoni (Rafael), Brett Dier (Michael), Ivonne Coll (Alba), Jaime Camil (Rogelio), Elias Janssen (Mateo), Anthony Mendez (Narrator!), and creator/executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman. The second is the end. Bid farewell to Jane and family with Oliver Sava, who will recap between sniffles.
South Side (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m.): As promised last week, we got the chance to chat with Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin, co-creators and stars of Comedy Central’s latest scripted comedy. South Side is a sharp, thoughtful, but far from self-serious look at life on Chicago’s South Side (get it?), and tonight’s episode, “Sell Yourself,” is as smart and funny as the first. It also offers some surprising history about Officer Goodnight (Salahuddin). Read on for our interview, and if you haven’t yet had the pleasure, you can watch the first episode below.
The A.V. Club: In the second episode of the show, we learn a lot about Officer Goodnight. Without giving up the surprises, what was the genesis of that storyline?
Bashir Salahuddin: One of the reasons we did the show, and why the show is so important, is that we want to show people that what they’ve heard about the South Side is just a very small piece of a very large pie. So the Officer Goodnight character represents the view that you might have of that part of the city if you didn’t live there, but still had strong opinions about it. I think it’s really important. It’s sort of similar to The Boondocks. The Uncle Ruckus character represents a negative view of Black people, which is the Huey character is fighting against.
Officer Goodnight is somebody who will say clearly that he wishes that the South Side ended [at] 22nd street, that there was no South Side. He really feels like this place has no redeeming qualities, and of course, he’s thrust into the middle of it. Everybody on our show is aspirational. His aspiration, we learn, is that he wants to be a detective, but obviously he made a mistake. Like a lot of our characters, reality kind of came crashing down around him.
AVC: What does that mean for him and the other characters?
BS: Well, we’re also going to learn that his approach isn’t like Officer Turner’s approach, because it’s not deft. She’s a community police offer. She’s from there. She knows how to talk to people down there. He’s more like, “I’m going to take a big boot to everything and break it all down.” And we basically learn that that’s just not going to work. Hopefully the commentary is, with regard to community policing, you just can’t approach sensitive areas like that with this sort of big boot approach. “We’re just going to kick a bunch of ass.” Like the idea of being “tough on crime,” right? Sounds great, but it doesn’t really work in terms of actually rehabilitating people away from things they shouldn’t be doing or being able to communicate effectively with people who could be really valuable for you and your police work.
AVC: The show is great at tackling ideas like that, but it’s part discussion of policing and economic realities and so on, and part jokes about “boner pills.” How do you balance those things in the writers room?
BS: The most important thing is simplicity. Every single episode starts with one of the writers coming in with [something simple], or we arrive at something organically through talking. But a story crystallizes. If the story is strong and we love it, all the other pieces will come into play. So in episode two, the simple story was going to be that we learn that Simon and K undertake this endeavor to sell Viagra. And they realize that it’s simply too dangerous and something that can end up landing them in jail.
It’s really important for our show to show that people have entrepreneurial spirit, but have to make decisions about choosing an entrepreneurial venture that’s not going to stop them from being able to see their kids. That’s the most important thing, because if you’re not there for the kids and you can’t raise them, then was this venture worth it? And I think a lot of people unfortunately make that trade-off in the wrong direction, right?
AVC: So what happens after you’ve got the main storyline?
BS: So the core story was that, and then the B-story was Officer Goodnight sees a way for himself to earn points with the police department by busting Simon. So those are the two stories that were intertwined in episode two. Now once we have two stories that we like, each writer brings their personal experience to it. Somebody might make a joke that’s a cool commentary on community police, and somebody else might make a joke that’s just a really funny joke about a bunch of old guys in the store trying to secretly buy Viagra. We let the best jokes win, as long as the motor of the story is going forward. It’s really important for us to make the world laugh, to make the South Side laugh with itself. We don’t have any rules about what we can and can’t make jokes about, because Chicago is a hard town. And so we make hard jokes. We don’t do soft.
Diallo Riddle: Everything Bashir said is absolutely true. At the end of the day, we just hope that people from Chicago really appreciate how much of the city that we put into the show. I feel like they [do]. Reading the comments and being on social media, literally all the comments are, “My god, I can’t believe that they’ve made a show that’s just Chicago in every way.” We have a lot of creative leverage on this project, and we took advantage of that. I think people are feeling that, you know?