H Street Blues
It’d be easy to mock the casting notice, posted this week on various talent sites, for H Street, a low-budget sitcom set on the nightlife-heavy strip in Northeast D.C. Take the character of Charles, an African-American man in his late 20s to mid-30s who runs a bar, loves D.C. sports, and is “annoyed by hipsters.” Or Mitch, “a young Republican working on the hill” who isn’t afraid to speak his mind. (“He knows what the world needs...a Republican president.”) Or Kennedy: “Very liberal….Kennedy holds a low-level staff position for a Boston Congressman and dreams of one day being a young Hillary Clinton.” Or Cammy: “a young intern who is passionate about everything and is desperate to change the world.” Or Brad: “Aspiring musician & amateur sports aficionado.” There’s also a burglar with a bad English accent.
Yes, the producers of H Street should be very publicly shamed for concocting such lazy stereotypes. Still, if they must go ahead with their show—and really, only if they must—we hope the first few episodes look something like this. Write your own plot summaries in the comments.
Pilot Episode: “The Bicycle”
Brad, late for his Ultimate game and straddling his Bianchi Pista, sends himself flying when his bike gets caught in streetcar tracks. His roommate Cammy, in a rare day off from phone-banking, helps him to the hospital, where he learns a valuable lesson about universal health care. He’s discharged, only to end up back in the emergency room after falling ill during a kickball game. He learns he has a rubber allergy, and despondent, heads to Charles’ bar, which, being packed with guilt-struck kickballers, is quickly destroyed by gentrification.
Episode No. 2: “The Mini”
Charles is watching the Redskins game on a Sunday when a Mini Cooper, toting some new residents of the neighborhood to a Belle & Sebastian concert, crashes into the front of his establishment, doing tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Furious, Charles is convinced hipsters have finally done him in. But idealistic Cammy, who’s no stranger to organizing for good causes, sets up an ActBlue fundraising page to pay for the repairs, which she, Brad, and Kennedy promote via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks. They raise enough to fix the damage—and the bar is quickly packed with well-meaning hipsters, and destroyed by gentrification.
Episode No. 3: “The Golf Game”
Mitch and Kennedy enter H Street Country Club with different groups, and are informed that their teams are too large to play miniature golf. After some wildly contrived hand-wringing, Mitch and Kennedy end up playing together, even though they’ve never met before. Bickering over Congress’ latest continuing resolution soon gives way to bipartisan sparks, and the soon-to-be lovers head to Charles’ bar for a quick nightcap, but their public display of affection is grating to the point that the establishment literally implodes (thanks to gentrification).
Episode No. 4: “The Bullhorn”
It’s Seersucker Thursday on Capitol Hill, and a bowtied Mitch is taunted with a bullhorn by members of the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge as he heads to Charles’ bar. He begins plotting his revenge, and decides (out loud) that he’ll convince his Republican boss to introduce a bill banning protests with bullhorns on D.C.’s commercial corridors. Kennedy, who broke up with Mitch recently, hears his plan, and declares she will get her Democratic boss to protect ISUPK’s right to free speech. Hoping to foil Kennedy’s counter-offensive, Mitch calls his chief of staff, who yells at him for wasting his time with “stupid local shit.” Defeated, Mitch insults Kennedy’s Labradoodle. The bar explodes, due to gentrification.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery