There’s something very sincere and heart-warming about Tray, the character played by Tracy Morgan in new TBS show The Last O.G. The forthcoming series, backed by John Carcieri and Jordan Peele, is a welcome return for the endearingly 30 Rock star, who still very much embodies the on-screen personality often attributed to him but grounds it in a very raw, very honest look at Brooklyn. Gentrification, isolation and displacement sit at the heart of the series and fuel both it’s timely (and often unpredictable) comedic hits and deeper meaning, giving Morgan plenty to work with as he plays an ex-con who is returns to Brooklyn after a 15-year stint in prison on drug charges.
Much like Brooklyn, there’s a real sense of urgency and honesty in the script, both from Morgan and scene-stealer Tiffany Haddish, who plays Tray’s fiery ex-girlfriend who in the present day is dating a white man, raising two children (obviously Tray’s) and attempting to dust off a street image in her professional life. The conflict between her street and professional lives is sold brilliantly, Haddish doing a tremendous job at essentially playing two roles in one as she struggles to navigate Tray’s persistence and her own personal life.
Of course, there’s also plenty of supporting roles adding to the show’s dynamism, each written with their own distinctive arc and each adding greatly to either the show’s dramatic or comedic sides. Malik Yoba gets a shot in at the former, playing Tray’s old partner in crime who is now heading up a coffee shop, employing Tray, and – as it seems – running his legitimised business in much the same way as a drug operation. As far as comedy goes, there’s a substantial contribution from perennial funny man Cedric the Entertainer, whose character welcomes Tray into a bizarre half-way house, a role that although not fully fleshed in the first two episodes, seems like it will provide some great moments moving forward.
Beautifully shot and thoroughly entertaining, it’s looking like when The Last O.G premieres (in the U.S) on April 3rd it will quickly become one of the must-watch shows of 2018, filling a void of smart comedy that’s been emptied with the exit of shows like 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation.
This piece is based on the first two episodes of the series, which both screened as part of the World Premiere at SXSW 2018.