Whitley (“Raising Whitley”), Campbell (“Martin”), and Brown (“Community”) are all comedy veterans who bring their considerable talent and experience to “Act Your Age,” which has a zippy pace that sometimes tries to cram a little too much hijinks into each half-hour episode. As the show’s title suggests, “Act Your Age”’s first season of 16 episodes takes a “grown folks” approach to the material, which has candid but not wildly explicit talk and scenarios about sex and drugs.
“Act Your Age” was created by showrunner/executive producer Alyson Fouse, whose past TV producing credits include the comedy series “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Big Shot” (which had Brown as a cast member), and “’Til Death.” “Act Your Age” can occasionally be formulaic, but the show admirably offers a perspective that is uncommon on primetime TV. In this show, the middle-aged African American female protagonists aren’t obsessed with trying to look younger or trying to act like wannabe “Real Housewives” cast members. They are navigating their lives as single women and are unapologetic about and comfortable with who they are—even if they might get on each other’s nerves.
Each of the women in this tight-knit trio has a distinct personality. Whitley’s “Act Your Age” character is Bernadette “Bernie” Sykes, an ambitious real estate developer who is the landlord of the high-rise apartment building where she lives in Norfolk. Bernadette might have her act together regarding her successful career, but her love life hasn’t run as smoothly. She has been a single parent to her only child, Jacob (Nathan Anderson), who’s in his early 20s, for all of Jacob’s life.
Brown portrays widow Angela Martin, whose late husband, Davis, was the beloved mayor of Norfolk. Davis has been dead for about a year. Angela and Davis, who both went to the same law school together, often got comparisons to Barack and Michelle Obama. Angela is very straightlaced and shows signs of being slightly obsessive-compulsive regarding her expectations for things to be neat, orderly, and done her way. Angela’s only child is her daughter Olivia (Mariah Robinson), who is in her early twenties and has known Jacob since they were children.
Martin plays the role of Keisha, who is almost the complete opposite of Angela. Some might call Keisha “free-spirited.” Some might call her “irresponsible.” Some might call her both. One thing’s for sure: Keisha, who has been married and divorced multiple times, is the friend in this trio who loves to party the most. The show makes several references and comedic comments about Keisha’s fondness for cannabis.
The first episode of “Act Your Age” gets right to the zinger jokes. Angela and Keisha are in an elevator together in Bernadette’s apartment building. Keisha and Angela are looking at each other suspiciously because they didn’t expect to see each other in the same place at the same time. The reason for this visit? Bernadette has told her two pals that she’s getting the key to the city in a high-profile ceremony, and she wants her two closest friends to celebrate with her.