Arts Desk

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

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  • bamacus maximus

    "I know lots of black people" - brad and the gang learn a valuable lesson about race when, on his way to a kareoke competition, brad hits a black child with his fixie. Racial tensions are high and the bar is destroyed. Charles hosts a community fundraiser in the ashes to raise money to fix brad's bike.

  • Really?

    No snow ball fights?

  • Mike Madden

    @Really? -- It's April, we didn't have snow on our minds. Maybe if gets picked up for a second season... Or maybe you can write your own very special snowball fight episode here in the comments!

  • monkeyrotica

    "Do the White Thing" - On the hottest day of the year, tensions rise at Taylor Gourmet when Poopy the Magic Hobo does his business on the shop floor with hilarious consequences. Neighborhood rabble rouser "Buggin Out" enlists locals in a boycott until they put some pictures of go-go artists on the walls and allow non-customers to use the restroom facilities.

  • What the flocka???

    House of Panic - When the House of Prayer runs out of change and sends their young waitress next door to the Rock and Roll Club. Where she's immediately becomes a hit sensation when she starts singing "stairway to heaven"

    Touched by a Clothier - When the local Men's Fashion Store is asked to dress rock-n-rollers for the Atlas Award Show red carpet. A mix-up of instructions have everyone looking like pimps.

    Why don't you pie, this? - the local bakery and rock-roll club have feud over parking spaces and a typical Laverne and Shirley brawl breakout with some crazy Three-stoogies antics

    Flash metro - the local bars and restaurants start a flash-mob dance on H Street and a runaway metro bus is coming straight towards them and no one can save them but a student from Gallaudet.

  • monkeyrotica

    Hobo with a Shotgun II: Electric Boogaloo - Double amputee ex-con "Rollo" has a change of heart and decides to turn away from a life of crime after a chance encounter on the dance floor with a recently transplanted yoga instructor and pet aromatherapist. After a tense meeting with his former crew members, they settle their differences with an elaborately choreographed fight sequence featuring the music of Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

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  • gentrification mike

    you bitches clearly don't live in the H st. NE area. gentrification rocks

  • dickdicks

    its just a casting call. hold your judgement till the fuckers make someting.
    "sterotypes" its a fucking casting call. they are just looking for people.

  • bamacus maximus

    "A White Christmas" -- The big holiday party at the bar is put in jeopardy when Mitch drops a large bag of cocaine on the sidewalk. But when a local boy is caught by the police picking up the bag, the gang learns a valuable lesson in not snitching, only to have the bar burn down due to gentrification.

  • jonkyl

    "Yes, the producers of H Street should be very publicly shamed for concocting such lazy stereotypes".

    Yes, the writers of this article should be very publicly shamed for such lame writing. Maybe, in some crazy parallel universe, they are making a show about H Street stereotypes???

  • Beasus

    Maybe the authors of this article should try to assemble some thoughts, content, a reaction around art that actually exists instead of wasting the readers time with these senseless projections of what the episodes of "H Street" will entail- when their basis for these potential episdoes merely rests on a simple casting call. You should be ashamed for concocting an article on such a presumptuous foundation.
    The author of this article's lack of talent and vision to create meaningful and entertaining storylines based on a set of characters- characters that will surely evolve in the process of filming the first set of episodes- is no indication of what we should expect from the makes of "H Street".
    I agree chill out until we see something and maybe spend more than a day on H Street to pass judgement. I wouldn't be surprised of the people who wrote this are my favorite type of DCer. The ones who live in Arlington and say they've been in DC for 5 years.

  • What the flocka???

    Gentrification Mike; I would like for you to say those exact words with your loudest voice on H, Street, NE. Gentrification does rock, no one is saying it doesn't. So did racism but television shows such as All in the Family were big hits. So rock on.

  • gentrification mike

    What the flocka??? I'm not intimidated by any of my neighbors or anyone in my neighborhood. unlike you i'm not a coward. In addition, I am a contractor so yes I generally like construction project that result in what you would call gentrification. eat a dick

  • bamacus maximus

    the notion that this show will be anything but retarded is, well, retarded. Now, if they called it Hechinger Mall ...

  • sewsewsoso

    Why does the burglar have to be African American? Douchy...

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  • candace

    Right, so two weeks ago on my way home from a dance class at the Atlas and straddling my Bianchi San Jose, sent myself flying when my bike got caught in streetcar tracks. My roommate Anna, taking an hour of her morning away from her job at an international affairs-oriented NGO, took me to the hospital, where I implemented a valuable lesson learned from my last bicycle accident: that GWU's ER is way better than the one at Howard. I was discharged, but not better in time to run the Cherry Blossom ten-miler.

    In other words, Washington City Paper, I think you stole my story.

  • Jonathan L. Fischer

    @candace: Got any other good ones? I'm working on season 2.

  • jane

    any *real* dc-ian worth his/her salt knows the BEST hospitals in the area belong to Innova. You can buy me a beer at Charles' to thank me.

    -yo local hipster