The Difference Between (Alt-)Right and Wrong

In VICELAND's "Hate Thy Neighbor," comedian Jamali Maddix explores extremist groups and tries to make some sense of their varied views.

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click to enlarge Jamili Maddix confronts extremist groups in "Hate Thy Neighbor." - Photo: Courtesy of VICELAND
Photo: Courtesy of VICELAND
Jamili Maddix confronts extremist groups in "Hate Thy Neighbor."
As the “alt-right” movement continues to take over the country, many are confronted with the uncomfortable reality of the white supremacy and indoctrinated hate that (still) exists in America.

In Hate Thy Neighbor (10 p.m. Mondays, VICELAND), comedian Jamali Maddix takes on the harrowing task of exploring these groups, meeting the folks who subscribe to these beliefs and making some sense of the varied, extremist views.

Maddix, a British biracial, bespectacled and bearded man, somehow manages to calmly listen to these people express their views and then gently challenges them. He faces potentially dangerous situations. He doesn’t go low — which, in the case of a certain Pennsylvania white supremacist woman teaching her babies the Nazi salute, would be so easy to do — but he is still able to find some humor in it all.

The show cuts between documentary footage from the homes and gathering spaces of extremist groups and snippets of Maddix onstage, discussing his experiences in a comedy act — often a welcome relief.

Interestingly, Hate Thy Neighbor premieres on the heels of the cancellation of A&E’s Escaping the KKK, a docu-series following people who wanted to part ways with the Ku Klux Klan. The network pulled the plug after it came to light that producers paid members to participate (in other words, they gave money to the KKK).

It’s difficult but necessary to stare at these hate groups head-on. It’s too easy to pretend like they don’t exist. Maddix doesn’t just focus on the Steve Bannon-loving American white supremacists, but also seeks the perspectives of extremist groups for people of color, like black separatists in New York and around the world.

This week’s episode travels to Ukraine, where a far-right militant group has gained legitimacy within the only European country at war on its own soil.

The global perspective reveals that such hate is not just the reality of Trump’s America, but an ugly blemish on societies that have been here all along. 

While it might seem like what’s shown on Hate Thy Neighbor further separates us, there is something to be said about seeing other perspectives and understanding (but not condoning) an extreme position. Maddix nails that difficult assignment.

Picks of the Week

Workaholics (10 p.m. Wednesday, Comedy Central) – In another parody, this time of a certain Excellent Adventure, Bill and Tez (get it?) embark on a business trip through Chinatown.

Bong Appetít (10:30 p.m. Wednesday, VICELAND) – In Northern California, 94-year-old “ganja grandma” Nonna Marijuana prepares a pot-laden feast.

Superior Donuts (Series Premiere, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, CBS) – Based on the play by Tracy Letts, this new comedy centers on a stubborn donut shop owner and the new sole employee who’s determined to modernize the bakery.

This Was the XFL (9 p.m. Thursday, ESPN) – Ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl game, this 30 for 30 documentary looks at the failed XFL football league. WWE owner Vince McMahon launched the effort in 2001, lasting just one season.

Baskets (10 p.m. Thursday, FX) – Chip’s arrest interrupts Christine’s water aerobics.

Nirvanna the Band the Show (10 p.m. Thursday, VICELAND) – In the network’s first scripted series, a duo dubbed “Nirvanna the Band” (with an extra “n”) sets out to book a gig at Toronto’s famed Rivoli, launching an arsenal of publicity stunts along the way. Oh, and they’ve never written or recorded a single piece of music.

This Is Us (9 p.m. Tuesday, NBC) – Miguel and Shelly break some bad news to Jack and Rebecca (divorce, perhaps?); Randall struggles to process his father’s fate; Toby disrupts Kate’s time at weight-loss camp; Kevin reflects on his relationship with Sophie.


CONTACT JAC KERN: @jackern

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