It’s been, all things considered, a very weird and very, very tough year for pretty much everyone. And sometimes, when things feel particularly shitty, the best thing you can do for yourself is find a way to laugh. Enter: Hulu’s new comedy series Woke, starring Lamorne Morris from New Girl. It follows Lamorne’s character Keef Knight, a cartoonist who’s about to make it big, when a moment of police brutality changes his entire perspective (and somehow finds a way to make Keef’s reaction to the situation funny).
Unfortunately, and as we’ve seen over and over again, things like this happen every day in America. You might be wondering, though, “Is Keef based on a real-life person? And did this specific incident actually happen?” The answer is yes. Here’s what we know about the true story behind Woke.
Keef Knight is based on a real person.
The IRL person is named Keith Knight (lol, get it?) and he is actually a cartoonist. Keith co-created the show, which serves as a dramatization of his life, and he also serves as one of the producers and one of the writers. Impressive!
The story relies on magical realism, with inanimate objects coming to life to point out instances of racism Keef wouldn’t have noticed otherwise, and that idea is drawn from Keith’s own comics. And, fun fact, Keith also is responsible for drawing the comics that you see in the show.
“In my strips, I have inanimate objects that come to life,” Keith explained during a press day for the show. “Everyone has their own ‘woke’ journey, so for a cartoonist to have the objects talking to himself makes sense. And I love that you don’t where it’s going to come next. It’s like The Sixth Sense in that you don’t know where the next ghost is coming.”
Did Keith experience the same police brutality Keef does in the first episode?
Unfortunately, yes. Keith said in an interview with Indy Week that the incident in episode 1, where he’s mistaken for someone else and arrested in broad daylight, actually happened to him.
“Literally, that incident happened to me twenty years ago,” Keith said. There aren’t a ton of details available about the incident (which, fair), but Keith is worried that the show premiering during a summer of intense protests against police brutality will make it seem more timely and relevant than he intended.
“Racism is evergreen in this country; police brutality is evergreen. It would be relevant at any time.”
Basically, this shouldn’t be a show you watch and think, “Oh, wow, the timing of this show is so uncanny,” because police brutality has been a part of American society for years and years. This is not a new phenomenon, even though the show is premiering in the midst of this cultural movement.
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