Showtime is billing Sacha Jenkins’ new docuseries Everything’s Gonna Be All White — or everything’s gonna be all… white if you prefer your typography to be cutesy — as three parts, plus a bonus episode.
This is an odd choice of focus. The three episodes of Everything’s Gonna Be All White are a solid if formally inconsistent attempt to tackle the racial history of America in discipline-spanning socio-economic-cultural terms. It makes some smart connections and is full of worthy insights, but I’d never recommend it over HBO’s similar Exterminate All the Brutes or a dozen PBS docuseries covering the same terrain.
The so-called “bonus” episode, however, feels like an extremely perceptive distillation of what worked and didn’t work in the series proper, and it functions as a template for an ambitious regular panel show on race that Showtime should probably order to series immediately.
Jenkins, a longtime journalist whose Showtime credits include recent documentaries on the Wu-Tang Clan and Rick James, may be a year or two behind the moment when Everything’s Gonna Be All White would have been groundbreaking, but he still has his finger on a general cultural pulse. If you’ve followed recent (or semi-recent) coverage of Whoopi Goldberg’s Holocaust faux pas, accusations of colorism against the movie version of In the Heights, ongoing discussion of the 1619 Project or the never-ending name controversy with the NFL’s Washington Commanders, Jenkins and his wide-ranging group of expert talking heads provide useful context and clarity. Sometimes they address the headlines directly and sometimes they offer nuance that too often gets lost in our soundbite culture.