A new series highlighting Brooklyn is coming to Showtime on May 23: “Flatbush Misdemeanors,” written by and starring Kevin Iso and Dan Perlman.
The series follows longtime friends Kevin and Dan who struggle to succeed in their new surroundings—Flatbush, Brooklyn. But when Kevin accidentally spills a local drug dealer’s promethazine while on a routine food delivery, both of their lives are thrown into unexpected upheaval.
Iso, who is Nigerian, says “Flatbush Misdemeanors” is a tribute to his own culture in which he saw many similarities between the street life of the Brooklyn neighborhood and in Nigeria.
Around Newkirk Avenue Station in Brooklyn, for example, Iso stumbled upon street vendors selling items from different countries, including Haiti and St. Lucia. He experienced the same when he visited Nigeria in 2015.
Because of this overlap, Iso said setting the show in Flatbush “just felt right.”
“Flatbush Misdemeanors” also aims to highlight cultures that are usually seen in a negative light. According to Iso, growing up African in the 90s in New York meant being bullied because of your culture due to the media’s off-handed portrayal of Africans as poor and uneducated.
Now, Iso believes Haitians are experiencing this same plight. Set in the heart of Brooklyn, a neighborhood where many cultures collide, the series hopes to combat these stereotypes.
“It felt right to shine a light on these cultures that I wish someone would’ve shone on Africa when I was growing up,” said Iso.
The show also depicts the struggles of city life, a reality that both Iso and Perlman have lived through. After three years of creating comedic sketches about their journeys, the pair decided to combine their personal insights into one long, well-formatted story.
The three-minute digital version of “Flatbush Misdemeanors” won the Best North American Short Film award at the London Film Festival, the Grand Jury Award at the Florida Film Festival, and many more.
Iso brings writing experience from his part on HBO’s “That Damn Michael Che.” In writing the characters for “Flatbush Misdemeanors,” Iso channeled many of his personal experiences.
The character Drew, for example, is loosely based on men from Iso’s personal life. Drew is a drug dealer who values education and has a soft spot for his niece, Zayna.
“The world sees [these men] as criminals, but I know a different side of them—how caring they are,” Iso explained. “It’s a kind of duality that I see in my brothers and cousins and a lot of people.”
Further, Kevin’s character highlights the struggle of being a freelance artist. Iso experienced this struggle firsthand when he got to New York City in 2013.
“Every day, you have to wake up and find the energy to go to a job that you don’t want to work,” said Iso. “You do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.”
To support local freelancers, “Flatbush Misdemeanors” showcases the work of local artists, many of whom are from Flatbush.
Through featuring local art and culture, Iso hopes the show will depict a level of honesty and vulnerability that viewers will identify with.
“I just hope the people that we are representing feel represented in a positive way,” said Iso.
“Flatbush Misdemeanors” will air on Showtime on May 23. A preview is available on Showtime’s website.
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