Diarra From Detroit Review: BET+ Caper Is a Suspenseful, Irreverent Triumph

Diarra from Detroit is a clever, humorous mystery dramedy with an intelligent, irreverent sleuth that will have you laughing one minute and on the edge of your seat the next. Exec produced by black-ish creator Kenya Barris and BET Studios, the eight-episode series bows Thursday, March 21 on BET+ (the first three installments drop on premiere day, followed by weekly releases on subsequent Thursdays for the remaining five episodes).

After leaving Netflix and signing an overall deal with BET in 2021, Barris told TVLine’s sister pub The Hollywood Reporter that he wanted to do “in your face s–t ,” and Diarra does not disappoint.

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Diarra (played by Diarra Kilpatrick, who’s also the series’ creator) is a schoolteacher who returns to her inner-city Detroit neighborhood while going through a divorce. She is still very emotional about her ex (Morris Chestnut), although it’s unclear whether she’s deeply humiliated or truly heartbroken. To get her mind off her failed relationship, Diarra reluctantly re-enters the dating scene via the dating app Tinder and falls for the first guy she meets — only to have him ghost her. Or has he?

Diarra is convinced her new beau wouldn’t just disappear because the attraction was mutual and he’d made plans for a second date. Her friends, however, think she’s living in fantasyland. When she goes to his apartment and instead of her date finds a mysterious man tied to a chair, Diarra puts on her detective hat.

Diarra’s mix of Detroit street smarts, book smarts, and naivete makes the character worth rooting for. Kilpatrick skillfully navigates all the feels — whether it’s late-night introspective insomnia, keeping unruly students in line or doing a whole hand game and dance with her childhood friend then trying (but failing) to act like an OG in a dangerous situation.

Some broad and overlong farcical scenes seem to be there just to laugh at ‘hood’ stereotypes, while Diarra’s social circle is comprised mostly of stock characters. And Chestnut isn’t breaking new ground playing the handsome Buppie. Yet, as the promo for the show states, Diarra is “extra,” and Kilpatrick’s essaying of this makes it a must-see.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: BET+’s Diarra from Detroit is an edgy and interesting mystery dramedy that is engrossing to watch but could benefit from fewer stereotypes.

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