A couple of weeks ago, I visited a friend in New York City. Over a day of walking around the city and a few rounds of beers at his favorite bar, we discussed a variety of topics such as the J.K. Rowling controversy and our time in Japan. But there was one topic that confused both of us and that was Issa Rae’s show about a bisexual black man.
At the end of 2017, tv show creator and rising actress Issa Rae was announced to be executive producing an HBO show about a bisexual black man. The comedy show, titled Him or Her, was explained to be an exploration of a black man’s bisexual dating life.
New conversation about the show then sprung up last summer when Rae talked about the homophobic pushback she received after announcing Him or Her.
“I remember just being pissed all day,” she said. “Sometimes you live in a bubble, you live in a liberal bubble where you think that everyone is open, and in my eyes progressive in a way where there are so many human experiences, black experiences, gender experiences. There are so many stories to tell. The fear that a story like that would be told when it’s the story of so many other people is just absolutely ridiculous. The censorship and the idea that black men can’t be all things and still be black men is just absurd, it is.”
But she then noted how creating diverse stories to represent those rarely represented is the bread and butter of her career. In doing so, she inspired the show creator for Him or Her.
“Travon Free—the writer, the creator of the project—approached us with it,” Rae says. “And he said [an] episode of Insecure was a first time that he had felt like his story was being told in a way. And that conversation reflected so much of his personal experience. We were looking for fresh voices and he pitched that, and it really excited me, because I’ve just never seen anything on TV like that. I’m just rooting for his show.”
But unfortunately, that’s all we know about the show so far. It seems all coverage on Him or Her has stopped.
Even worse, Issa Rae is succeeding so well in Hollywood that she doesn’t have much time for HBO.
A recent trending story is that Issa Rae’s breakout role and creation Insecure won’t be returning until 2020. The reason? She’s too busy with other projects like the recently released film Little.
According to Vulture and HBO programming chief Casey Bloys, Issa Rae is in “high demand.”
“Well, Issa became a big movie star!” Bloys said of the actress. “We’re not the first place to deal with this, but when you’re in business with very creative and talented people, there’s a lot more opportunities for people to do things. Issa, I think, partly wanted a break to come back to it fresh.”
Don’t get us wrong, we love a successful black queen. But, we’re worried about the future of a promising program.
Rae’s rising stardom has created challenges for her schedule and projects. This is a problem she expressed while talking to Fast Company. When celebrating the announcement of Him or Her, she explained that she won’t be starring in the show because she simply can’t create, produce, and star at the same time.
“I never want to be in a show that I star in and create again,” she says. “It’s the workload, and also I don’t want to do stuff that I’ve already done. I’m like, ‘I know what this is now–so what’s next?’”
But just because she can’t act and produce on the same project doesn’t mean she can’t just produce. As such, Rae is probably still working on the show while she’s acting in other projects. But if so, why has there been no word on the comedy for almost a year now? No casting announcements? No news on production? Nothing.
Perhaps Him or Her has also been put on hold while Issa Rae focuses on other projects, but couldn’t she, Travon Free, or HBO tell us so?
For fans like my friend and I who were excited for a story about a bisexual black man on a popular Cable service, the lack of information is disappointing. Hopefully, we’ll hear news about the comedy soon, but the few fans excited for the series are dwindling by the minute. And for the ones remaining, like myself and my friend, we’re left wondering, “What happened to Him or Her?”
Instinct Magazine reached out to HBO for comment on this issue.