BET revisits 1992’s ‘Boomerang’ with ‘refreshing’ focus on gender politics

The TV sequel to Eddie Murphy's "Boomerang" film airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on BET. Photo Credit: BET Networks / Annnette Brown

The series shifts focus to an outspoken female lead and her career-driven friends. “It’s like the black version of ‘Friends,’ ” says actress Tetona Jackson.

The TV sequel to Eddie Murphy's "Boomerang" film airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on BET.
The TV sequel to Eddie Murphy’s "Boomerang" film airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on BET.

BET has resurrected Eddie Murphy’s "Boomerang," giving it a much-needed upgrade to appeal to millennial viewers. 

The series, of the same title, picks up where the 1992 romantic comedy leaves off: The flirtatious New York City ad exec Marcus Graham (Murphy) has settled down with Angela (Halle Berry) and relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. Only, instead of following the romantic happenings of Murphy’s Marcus, the series shifts focus to an outspoken female lead, Simone (Tetona Jackson), and her career-driven friends as they navigate their mid-20s.

"It’s a very refreshing show to be on TV right now," says Jackson, who’s portraying Murphy and Berry’s on-screen daughter. "The best way to describe it for me, personally, is it’s like the black version of ‘Friends.’" 

The "refreshing" take on the film leaves it to be compared to the likes of "Insecure" and "Atlanta" by The New York Times.

Actress Tetona Jackson portrays Eddie Murphy and Halle Berry's daughter in the new BET series, "Boomerang." 
Actress Tetona Jackson portrays Eddie Murphy and Halle Berry’s daughter in the new BET series, "Boomerang."  Photo Credit: BET Networks

"I love how this portrays the black community," Jackson says. "We have entrepreneurs, we have women like Simone who are very cocky and powerful and go for what they want. Men like who are powerful. It doesn’t just show black people in one light. There’s not just one way to be black."

Below, Jackson discusses the series’ changes from the original film, and why you shouldn’t call it a remake. 

Your Simone is being compared to Eddie Murphy’s character, Marcus. What’s it like in today’s climate to portray a character who’s breaking gender barriers?

I definitely feel like the roles have reversed. The beauty of Simone Graham is that she does have character traits from both parents. She does follow in her father’s career footsteps. I love the fact that she is such a powerful woman. She’s a very confident woman, but she is also, I guess troubled is the best way to put it. She has her own problems that she’s dealing with internally and you get to see a little bit more of that within each episode and you kind of get to understand her more and understand why she is the way that she is.

She’s refreshing, in a role model sense, for young women. 

I 100 percent agree. I feel like a lot of the time the audience, but more so men, don’t really know how to handle a character like her. Even young women, I was a little bit worried about how people would perceive her character, but the response has been great. 

What do you feel the show does right to avoid the risks of redoing a favorite? 

A lot of people were confused in the beginning, I think, because they thought it was a remake. I think once they realized it wasn’t, people jumped on board. For me, it’s that it shows there’s not just one way to be black. I think it’s definitely true with a lot of people who can connect. But I also feel it’s not just black people who can connect. Our characters in general, I’ve seen responses like "Oh my god, Crystal is just like my friend." Having characters you can relate to is one of the things I love about the show.

In your opinion, why is now the right time to revisit the film in this format — and modernize it? 

I think the black community, black youth, needs to see characters in stories like this on TV. Not to bring up politics, because I’m not a political person at all, but I think we’re living in a time right now where even though it’s 2019, the African-American community needs to see characters like this to help show them it’s OK to stand on your own power. Being black is beautiful. 

The series moves to Atlanta, Georgia, while the film was set in New York City’s business scene. How does this move make the series more relevant? 

Filming in Georgia was so different than in L.A. It was a joke we had, but it was so true, there were just so many black people around and it was beautiful to see. Even our crew, we had so many black people on crew. I think setting it in Atlanta, that was something nowhere else could add. I mean I’m a lover of all humans. We are all healers. We came from the same place, live, eat and breathe the same way. So, I’m just a love one another person. But it’s beautiful to see people who look like you.

ON TV: "Boomerang" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on BET.

Meghan Giannotta