FX’s New Show ‘The Premise’ Answers Timeless Moral Questions

“The Premise” on FX on Hulu is dedicated to bringing social justice issues to the small screen.

B.J Novak created “The Premise” as an anthology series of standalone stories about the times we live in. This show features a different cast and setting each episode to highlight today’s social justice issues that audiences may be uncomfortable discussing. 

This anthology series is a great way for first-time watchers to get a grasp of the social justice message the show wants to convey without the audience having to start from episode one. 

 BJ Novak introduces his new show, “The Premise.” Photo credit: FX

The premiere episode, titled “Social Justice Sex Tape”, tells the story of Ethan Streiber (Ben Platt) trying to help free a Black man, Darren Williams (Jermaine Fowler), who was wrongly arrested for assault. His evidence to help Williams’ comes from a sex tape. Although the video was very personal, he sent the footage to Eve Stone (Ayo Edebiri), a lawyer who took on the case to defend Williams’ innocence. 

“Ethan Streiber is the kind of guy who would do anything to be an ally,” said Novak introducing the show. “He’s about to find out what anything means.”

The episode presents two ideas that can be uncomfortable to viewers: nudity and injustice. People do not usually want to talk about their home videos. They also do not want to have the racial injustice conversation at happy hour. The premiere did an excellent job of presenting these ideas in a comprehensive manner. 

The video shows all of Streiber, but the content in the background is the real gold mine. During the tape, we see that the police officer merely tripped and Williams did not assault him at all. Although it seems like a piece of clear evidence to free Williams, the prosecutors at court can play dirty. 

Streiber hesitates to show his home video in court. He feels embarrassed to present his intimate moments, but he understands that his sex tape can free a wrongly convicted black man. I can see the hesitation come out of Streiber at this point. The picture is so much bigger than a group of strangers seeing him naked.

He agrees to display the video, but the prosecutor accuses Streiber of the video being fake, suggesting those are not his real body parts. It is further suggested that Strieber has many black friends and that it is not Williams in the background of the sex tape. 

Stone convinces Streiber to give up his phone to display his “Unreal” folder in his camera roll. The folder can be embarrassing, showing a vault of intimate moments, but Streiber is willing to give up his privacy for a higher purpose. His past lovers are brought to court and they discuss the sexual patterns Streiber has to prove he did not fake the original sex tape used as evidence.  He is also put on the spot about how many black friends he actually has.

Streiber loses his cool. He was trying to do the right thing for someone he barely knew. He put himself out there and it seems everyone is ripping him apart. Williams wins his case. His statement to the press argues why a white man’s sex tape freed him rather than listening to what a black man has to say.

The premiere of “The Premise” did not fail to bring a humorous light to political ideas. We constantly see people of color convicted without any proper reasoning. A trial can take months to transpire and some may argue the verdict is unfair. It was interesting to see how a white man was so willing to share his sex tape immediately with a lawyer to help prove Williams’ innocence. Streiber’s reputation is not fully tainted. Yes, people saw him naked. However, we see everyone naked these days. His private moments helped share a voice when Williams was silenced.

The final episode of “The Premise” will be released on Thursday Oct. 7 on Hulu.

By Neha Seenarine

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