Creators Gary Morgenstein and Russell Friedman bring forth Joyland a new series taking place in 1960s New York City shot entirely on Zoom during the COVID-19 Pandemic and premieres today, March 22, 2021 on YouTube.
Joyland begins in 1964 in New York City, aflame with protests after a cop has shot an unarmed African American teen, and at a Catskills bungalow colony, the iconic summer getaway for New York’s working and middle class.
Joyland follows the stories of former New York Knicks star Marty Dent’s dream of resurrecting his city – and himself – by bringing a basketball team to Brooklyn in the new American Basketball Association, and his former teammate and best friend Reverend Julian Bass, the dynamic Martin Luther King-like minister of Brooklyn’s First Church of Christ, who is trying to bridge the racial and class divide.
Joyland encompasses Julian’s wife Tyra Bass, the city’s first Black assistant high school principal who’s swept up in the explosive initial wave of school desegregation busing, pitting her against Marty’s wife Deb Dent, a conservative political activist, and Kenneth Lapidus, a powerful, politically connected department store magnate who mulls a run for Mayor while his defiant daughter Karen struggles to carve out her own career, juggling an unfaithful husband and unstable teenage daughter.
As we see the gray moralities of business owners Mr. Wilt and Sal Cumpella, the struggles of Edna Morton and her African American lover Red Harrison – recovering from a brutal racist attack – to save the Breezy Meadows Bungalow Colony, and teenager Aaron Dent, a fast-talking would-be talent agent terrified of his awakening homosexuality, the series intersects real-life personalities and real-life events from the worlds of politics, entertainment and sports, from Lyndon Johnson and Bobby Kennedy, Rodney Dangerfield and Moms Mabley, to Bob Cousy and Connie Hawkins.
Morgenstein and Friedman, take the story from a different perspective of the Civil Rights Movement, this time from what took place in the Northeastern United States and that racism wasn’t primarily a Southern issue. The language used is very much of the era and no punches are pulled in their delivery as they did not want to water down the world that existed during that time period.
Joyland premieres tonight 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on YouTube at Joyland.