Rosario Dawson’s New Oakland Web Series Premieres at the Oakland Museum

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Tristan Cunningham stars in 'Normal Ain't Normal.' (Offsides Productions)

Before we all learned to accept our COVID-era existence, a lot of us spent the first year or two of the pandemic itching to go back to “normal.” But here in the Bay Area, with a housing crisis, out-of-reach cost of living and too many other issues to count, is the old “normal” really where we want to be?

That’s a question the new Oakland web series Normal Ain’t Normal asks as it follows four characters grappling with today’s social struggles—including labor exploitation, rent hikes and, of course, the fallout of the pandemic. The show, created by Buzzfeed and Offsides Productions, promises to tackle these themes with humor and empathy, challenging viewers to redefine our social norms in the process.

If you’ve seen Offsides’ previous mini series, The North Pole, about a lovable trio of friends navigating gentrification and immigration issues in North Oakland, you’ll recognize this show’s mix of laughter, heart and real-world gravity. Rosario Dawson, who played a gutsy lawyer in the second North Pole season, returns as co-producer and co-star. Yvan Iturriaga is back in the director’s seat, and Normal Ain’t Normal also introduces a slate of Oakland’s cultural movers and shakers as collaborators.

Tommy Orange, author of the groundbreaking novel There There, which follows several generations of Native American characters in Oakland, comes on as a screenwriter. Chef Reem Assil, an outspoken social justice advocate, makes her acting debut and is also a writer of the episode she stars in.

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The aforementioned creatives, plus co-star Tristan Cunningham and series co-creator Josh Healey, are coming to the Oakland Museum of California this Saturday, Sept. 17, for two screening at 6pm and 8pm, both followed by a Q&A. And Normal Ain’t Normal debuts on Buzzfeed on Sept. 27 with weekly episodes to follow.