Kid Cudi’s Stylish Entergalactic on Netflix Is a Win for Black Rom-Com Representation

TV Reviews Entergalactic
Kid Cudi’s Stylish Entergalactic on Netflix Is a Win for Black Rom-Com Representation

Scott Mescudi, aka Kid Cudi, is a musical visionary to say the least. Outside of music, the hip-hop/rap/R&B artist has gracefully leaped to other mediums like film and television. This year alone he executive produced horror filmmaker Ti West’s X and Pearl, in which he also starred. Now Mescudi has entered a new genre: animation. At first glance, amid the glitz and glam, one could assume Entergalactic to be promotional material for Cudi’s studio album of the same name. Initially slated as a television series, Entergalactic is a long-form animated special that blends the 2D/3D style of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse along with the grounded slice-of-life atmosphere of a Nora Ephron film, from an authentic Black, inner-city millennial perspective.

Set in the heart of NYC, Jabari (Kid Cudi) is a young street artist who moves into a studio apartment in a lavish complex. He spends his time graffiti tagging across the city, hanging with his best friends Jimmy (Timothée Chalamet) and Ky (Ty Dolla Sign), and figuring out plans to advance his career. After a run-in with his estranged ex-girlfriend Carmen (Laura Harrier), Jabari decides to live a content single 20-something lifestyle and focus on his career and friends. His world turns upside down though when he has a meet-cute with his next-door neighbor Meadow (Jessica Williams), a successful photographer on the verge of opening a gallery.

After Sony Animation made a cultural footprint on the medium of animation with Spider-Verse, studios made a 180-degree turn to prioritize making unique stylistic presentations instead of pushing technology to evoke reality. Using that unique style to tell a mature, adult story, allows Entergalactic flourish. Director Fletcher Moules uses multiple Spider-Verse techniques, including a low frame rate in the movement to mimic stop-motion, and it all comes together to give Entergalactic a laid-back atmosphere that matches the grounded nature of its romantic story.

A narrative such as this could have easily been live-action, but Moules makes a case for the animation with a cosmic spin, creating a vibrant, colorful portrait of human connections. The character designs don’t stray far from their respective voice actors’ looks—except for Chalamet’s Jimmy, which doubles down on the fuckboi version. That said, most of the story’s strength lies within its voice cast, who bring earnest performances to their characters.

Jabari and Meadow’s refreshingly calm demeanors and charming personalities match this immersive atmosphere, as Mescudi and Williams bring an irresistible warmth to their voice performances that illuminate their character’s natural chemistry. The story allows a proper slow build to Jabari and Meadow’s romance, and develops their attraction with fun visual humor and sincerity. Their relationship might hit the typical rom-com formula, but it delivers a refreshing take on the girl-next-door blueprint where the two are vocal about their feelings and emotions. Instead of going over the top when conflict ensues between the artist-lovers, the writers handle the story beats with consistent maturity. It clearly takes a lot of inspiration from many classic Nora Ephron rom-coms, but with a fleshed-out Black romance for people who grew up watching Nora Ephron shit without ever seeing one made for us.

Many fans of Cudi will expect the album to integrate into the story heavily, but oddly enough it’s not. The new music is personalized to Jabari’s experience, and plays as a disembodied voice that expresses his bubbly feelings towards many facets of his life. Whether in his relationships with his friends or Meadow, the music guides the viewer through the beauty of this colorful world in which he resides. The music goes hand in hand with the story, effectively interwoven in the moments in a way that’s warranted, never wearing out its welcome.

Entergalactic works better as a special than as a series, but if it was classified as a movie, it’d be one of the strongest animated ones this year. Netflix should have sent this one to theaters and have it be an awards play for adult animation that often goes underrepresented. As it stands, Entergalactic is as sweet a romantic comedy as it is an ethereal animated odyssey. It’s a stylish, colorful love letter to animation and the simplicity of Black love in the modern age. It feels like the lovechild between When Harry Met Sally and Spider-Verse for a Black demographic, who deserve stories like this no matter what medium they’re presented in. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel for either animation or rom-coms, but it provides much-needed representation and is a fine addition to both.

Between Entergalactic and Billy Eichner’s studio comedy feature Bros, it’s inspiring to witness nuanced modern romantic comedies set in underrepresented communities that have traditionally only been given supporting roles to cis-white leads. Now we are getting unique, powerful stories we can tell, and while they may hit some familiar beats, they exemplify our diverse day-to-day lifestyles. Projects like Entergalactic are a Godsend for people who want to feel represented, seen, and loved.

Entergalactic is now available to stream on Netflix.

Rendy Jones is a film and television journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. They are the owner of self-published outlet Rendy Reviews, a member of the Critics Choice Association, and a film graduate of Brooklyn College. They have been featured in Vulture, The Daily Beast, AV Club and CBC News.

For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.

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