Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Stars of BET’s ‘Mancave’ Calls Series ‘Therapy’ Aimed to ‘Elevate’ Black Men

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“Mancave” episode 101 – Slink Johnson, Kosine, Lamar Odom, Jeff Johnson, and Tank. (Photo: BET)

*BET’s late-night original series “Mancave” is a progressive new talk show experience that assembles a diverse group of black men who share unadulterated and provocative views about life, love, politics, sex, pop culture and more.

The 12-episode weekly half-hour series stars TV personality and Executive Producer Jeff Johnson, singer/songwriter and actor Tank, comedian Gerald “Slink” Johnson (Black Jesus) and hit-making producer Marcos “Kosine” Palacios, who says “All of our guests are going to be men. There are no women in the Mancave. Rule #1 of the Mancave, “No women!” he laughs.

The series premiere kicked off Jan. 18 with NBA icon Lamar Odom and the episode quickly went viral after Kim Kardashian took to social media to diss him for what he said about his ex-wife Khloé Kardashian on the show. 

EUR/Electronic Urban Report caught up with Palacios and Jeff Johnson to dish on how the four unique perspectives inside BET’s “Mancave” will get real and raw about conversations that happen between men.

Part of TV is, you’re hoping to turn the TV on and see yourself and I don’t know where there’s conversations that black men are having on television,” Johnson says. “So it was important for us to create something where men are having authentic conversations about themselves because so often, the men-shows that we’ve seen have all been about telling women how to be women. This is a show where we talk about who we are. So I hope men are going to see a reflection of themselves,” he explains.

“There’s nothing that’s going to be off the table. We’re going to talk about love, politics, popular culture, money, fatherhood. But the most important thing about this is that we’re going to be authentic. Nobody’s acting. Nobody’s performing. There aren’t caricatures and we’re willing to be transparent in the midst of having this conversation, which I think is so important because, with all that we’re dealing with as black men, we need content that helps elevate our humanity and not diminish it.”

“Mancave” episode 101 – Lamar Odom and Jeff Johnson. (Photo: BET)

Talk about the perspective you each bring to the show.

Kosine: I’m the youngest of the crew so I try to bring the fresh, cool Millennium perspective. My brothas are seasoned brothas in the game and the world is ever-changing and sometimes you gotta bring that youthful energy to the crew as to what’s going on nowadays — something the college kids can relate to. I used to teach college for a few years, starting when I was 23 years old. So I have a strong affinity and connection to the Millennials.

Jeff: I’m bringing just perspective to the series. I am a U.K.-born, Cleveland-raised black man who has been divorced, who has kids, whose been remarried, who has another kid who owns a business. I think as opposed to trying to tell you that I fill a box, I’m bringing my authentic experience to the cave and that experience is complex and I’m excited about bringing a complex experience to the cave as much as my brothas, Kosine, Slink and Tank. While one may be a comedian and another may be a producer and another may be a singer, they’re sons. They’re fiancés. They’re fathers. They are previously incarnated. They are brothas who have traveled the world on tour and they bring all of that to the show. So I hope that even if we talk about the perspective we bring, that we don’t limit these brothas in the name of saying, “You fit the comedian box,” or “you fill the millennial box, ‘cause they’re bringing a hell of a lot more than those boxes.

Kosine: I just encourage entrepreneurship and being diverse, not being afraid to wear many hats. A lot of peers, we wear many hats. I’m in the music industry so for a big part of my career I had a huge team — different financial planners, management, different publishers and all these people, and sometimes it can be where there are too many cooks in the kitchen. You look at the younger generation, a lot of people are self-sufficient and I encourage you to just wear your own hat and do your own business. Be creative and learn all aspects of business and once you can do it yourself and once you challenge yourself to be as resourceful as possible, then start bringing up some of your homies and your teammates with you. So from a younger standpoint, I encourage people to wear many hats and learn all aspects of business. There’s real wisdom and knowledge that comes from doing it all.

“Mancave” episode 101 – Tank. (Photo: BET)

Would you agree that BET’s “Mancave” is therapy for guys?

Jeff: I definitely hope so. I hope that through our transparency, we give brothas who have not been given permission to be transparent to be so, and not even from a public standpoint. Because so much of this is about how do we even disrupt how we as black men have relationships. Black men are dealing with high levels of stress and some of that is because we don’t have a place to release.

Kosine: When you think about going to counseling, you’re just going to some couch to release and talk to somebody and sometimes you need to get things off your chest. Sometimes it’s even more powerful to sit down with your brothers in a circle of brothers that will hold you accountable too. Not just “YES”-men, but brothas that are going to hold you accountable to that high standard of excellence. So it’s 100% therapeutic. So much so that I can’t even believe that it’s my job to be in the Mancave.

Speaking of having a space to release, how essential is it to a personal man cave?

Jeff: The man cave is as much an idea as it is a destination because some brothas live in a one-bedroom apartment or a studio, so if we’re trying to tell them to have a man cave and that’s the only way you can have it, we’re missing the point. The point of a man cave is, what is your safe place? Do you have a safe place where you can be your whole true self and that everybody that comes into that place understands the value proposition that they gotta come in with the 100% raw real. And with that, if you do, then you’re creating a space for your own power. When so often, you can’t show up to work as your whole self because people will judge you. Hell, sometimes you can’t even show up to church as your whole self because people will judge you. The man cave is not only a place but an idea that if I come with my true whole self that I will be honored instead of judged.

Is the series interactive? Do you plan on utilizing social media to help spark conversations with viewers?

Jeff: We’d be out of our minds if there wasn’t. It needs to go in both directions. We’re going to use social media to gauge what men are already talking about and include that in the show. We’re going to find ways to utilize social to continue the conversation but the other thing is this, in 30 minutes, there’s only so much you can talk about, and so our digital presence, as well as live events, are going to be crucial to us being able to dive deeper into discussions that we can’t do on air. To be able to integrate regular brothas around the country who are doing dope stuff. So I’m excited about what our digital integration is going to look like, especially as we get further into the season.

Photo Credit: Twitter.com

What can women learn about men from watching this show?

Kosine: Of course our target audience is the brothas but my prediction is that women are going to get more out of the Mancave then men are. Because it’s a time for them to begin to understand how men engage with each other but also they can’t interject. All you can do is observe us. I think women have to remember to respect the difference between us. Y’all aren’t men. Y’all aren’t raised like us. Y’all aren’t in our locker rooms. Y’all aren’t on our football teams. You’re not in our fraternities. You’re not us. So instead of trying to think like a man, observe and just try to understand the man and understand the differences between men and women. And that’s what the show is. It’s an outlet and an opportunity for women to observe and understand because we do have to live in harmony. We do need Y’all and Y’all need us. So this is that moment for them to just see us and observe and learn.

Jeff: I hope they can better understand the men in their lives. It’s one of the reasons why I was adamant about “I do not want a show where we try to tell women how to be anything.” I want a show that women can simply better understand… “why my dad thinks that way,” or “that’s why my brother does that,” or, “when I was talking to my man, this is why he reacted this way.” I want sistas just to be able to be a fly on the wall into how brilliant and horrifying we can be. And how progressive and archaic we can be. I want sistas to just have a picture of the complexity of the men in their lives from a short 30-minute show and it deep dives into content online.

Tell our male readers why they should tune in to BET’s “Mancave?”

Kosine: The diversity of this show is what’s cool about it because it’s not all serious. We have some issues that are funny, some are kinda wacky and some that are politically charged. Some issues are about love and relationships. We’re all over the place in 30 minutes. I also think that the level of transparency that’s coming through. On the first episode I talked about hitting rock bottom, that moment of having to move back to Chicago, not saving my money, and this is after having worldwide, Grammy-nominated success. I was nominated for the hip-hop song of the year with Nicki Minaj and “Anaconda,” and after that is when I had to go back home. So life isn’t always the way you plan it. But then we talk about what that bounce-back is, what you learn from your pitfalls in life. So it’s all over the place and I get excited thinking about it.

In what ways do you hope young male activists are inspired by this series?

Jeff: I started out as an activist. I was the National Youth Director for the NAACP over a decade ago but I support activists now. I’m a content creator and storyteller and a communications person so what I hope is that this show allows us to do something that’s provocative and entertaining and sometimes jarring and unsettling and in the midst of that gives you a greater picture of the complexity of men. But I want this show to be funny. I want people to be entertained. In those 30-minutes of late-night TV, I want them to be able to unplug from some of the stress that they’ve had in the day and enjoy some brothas in their complexity making them laugh, making them think, making them angry, making them inspired, and if we can do those things then we’ve done our job.

New episodes of BET’s “Mancave” air Thursday night at 10:30/9:30c. 

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.



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