“Rhymes With Broke” demonstrates a character suddenly realizing how his identity fits into the world as he turns woke.
This recap of Hulu’s Woke season 1, episode 1, “Rhymes with Broke” contains significant spoilers.
We recapped every episode — check out the archive.
Cartoonist Keef heads out believing this is the last time he will be broke. He heads to a photo session and then sits with his partner and they discuss moving into a new place — he hasn’t told his flatmates yet that he plans to move out. On the bus, a passenger tells Keef that they love the comic “Toast and Butter” and then awkwardly implies they didn’t expect the cartoonist to be black. This is the beginning of Keef’s downfall in “Rhymes with Broke”.
It’s not about race
In a comic store, a black publisher executive has a discussion with Keef about how he is controversial because he’s a black cartoonist but Keef disagrees and says it’s not about race. He ironically says “I keep it light”. On the way home, Clovis is excited for Keef to be wealthy. Suddenly, Clovis finds a wallet that belongs to a white woman — Keef believes they should return it but Clovis thinks it’s a bad idea as they are black and they will be accused of crimes. It’s evident that Keef is unaware of the dangers posed to him by being a black man near a crime a scene.
While out stapling posters on the wall, Keef is suddenly arrested at gunpoint by police officers. There is a crowd and a commotion. Suddenly, the police leave him alone and reveal that Keef is “not the mugger”. Keef is seriously shaken by the racial profiling and heads to a shop looking dazed and gets some water. Suddenly, his imagination goes wild and his cartoons come alive in some of the alcohol bottles and they start talking to him. Keef tries to convince himself that he’s not crazy but as he walks off, the alcoholic beverages talk to him again. You can say that Keef has been a”woke”ned.
Keef attends his publisher agency Bloom & Hill Syndication. The executives are super excited — Keef wonders if they have whitened his photo and the executives deny that they have. All of a sudden, Keef feels the world is against him.
Do the right thing
Woke season 1, episode 1, “Rhymes With Broke”, sees Keef’s new view of the world starting to materialise.
When he goes to his barbers, his usual hairdresser Darnell has moved city. It’s now owned by white people but they’ve tried to keep it “authentic”. As he leaves, the trash can talks to him about the gentrification of the barbershop and how Darnell was forced out of the city. The trash can pumps Keef up to do the “right thing”. He tries throwing a bin at the barbershop window but it doesn’t smash.
The white stole from us
When Keef gets home, he concludes that he is crazy. Clovis comes home with a woman named Simone — he has pretended to be a football player to impress her. Simone sits next to Keef to watch an antique show. One of the antiques starts to talk to Keef about how he was stolen from the white man. Simone leaves as he was freaked out by Keef and Clovis is fuming.
Wow, you are woke now
Clovis then finds out Keef the police wrestled him to the ground today. Keef claims Gunther would have been shot if he was black by confronting the officers. Clovis then realises that his friend Keef has turned woke and that he needs to turn this sh*t off. Keef explains that he never expected it to happen to him. Clovis tells him that most of his fans are white so he needs to be “Toast and Butter Keef not “Malcolm X Keef”. This is a significant moment in the story already which provides comedic elements — Clovis understands that if Keef does not appease to his white fans, he will not make it as a cartoonist.
You deserve this, babe
Later, Keef asks his asks partner Katrina if the trajectory of her life is completely out of her control. She believes that people get what they deserve and that by Keef believing in himself, it has paid off. Keef then rolls over in bed to get some sleep when it was quite clear Katrina wanted sex.
The next day in “Rhymes With Broke” is a big day in Keef’s career — it’s Golden Con. Toast and Butter keep talking to him in his head. Toast and Butter tell him to maintain his appearance while his Pen says the opposite. Keef gets up on stage and Clovis whispers “Maintain motherf*cker, maintain”. He starts his speech being woke and claiming that the fancy costume Toast on stage is doing Black-face. Keef slowly starts losing the audience with his preaching about people of colour in America. The crowd ends up booing as he loses it.
Afterwards, Clovis tells Keef he has f*cked this up in a unique and negative way. Keef knows his career is on the line and wants to walk this off. Katrina tries comforting him but he doesn’t want to talk yet. As he walks through the city, a black man recognises him from the other day when he was wrestled to the ground by the cops. The man reveals the police were looking for him and asks Keef what’s in his bag — when he realises he has nothing of value, he hugs him and walks off. The voices in his head asks him “What are you gonna do now?”. Woke season 1, episode 1 demonstrates a character suddenly realising how his identity fits into the world as he turns woke.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.