By Shadiya Beckett & Maygen S. Tavares
A sitcom about the McKnight family who moves from Texas to France after Mom is relocated for work with the U.S. Military. A heartfelt and witty show where family dynamics and culture clash.
Alicia McKnight – Mother, 39; works for the U.S. Military Armory; her job is the reason the McKnights relocate to Gordes, France
King McKnight – Father, 38; freelance interior designer
Richard McKnight – Oldest son, 19; wants to become a breakdancer; charming; extrovert
Monét McKnight – Middle child, only daughter, 16; diva; doesn’t have many friends; volleyball player
Malachi McKnight – Youngest son, 14; family genius, funny, introvert
Aunt Gwendolyn – Alicia’s only aunt, 68; witty, doesn’t like pets, doesn’t take no for an answer, sassy
PILOT — SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY
SET IN ROLLINGWOOD, TEXAS IN NOVEMBER 2018. ALICIA, KING, MALACHI, MONÉT, AND RICHARD ARE IN A 1990 OLDSMOBILE ON THEIR WAY TO THE AIRPORT. THEIR LUGGAGE IS STRAPPED ON TOP WITH BUNGEE CORDS.
“SWEET CAROLINE” BY NEIL DIAMOND IS PLAYING ON THE RADIO. EVERYONE SINGS ALONG EXCEPT FOR MALACHI WHO IS ON HIS IPAD AND ROLLING HIS EYES.
“Good times never felt so good…”
PULL UP TO THE AIRPORT. ALICIA GOES TO THE TRUNK TO START UNLOADING SUITCASES AND REALIZES OTIS IS MISSING.
Malachi! Where is Otis?!
Really Mama? That’s what you worried bout?! How bout my mid-life crisis? I ain’t neva gon’ see my friends again!
(Gets out of the car and joins Alicia at trunk)
What’s all this commotion bout Otis and a mid-life crisis?
(Looks in the trunk)
Oh man! I forgot to put Otis in the car. I guess he gon’ have to live in Texas without us.
Oh hush boi! Where’s Richard?! Boi getcha Aunt Gwendolyn on the phone!
FAMILY AT SECURITY CHECKPOINT PLACING LUGGAGE ON CONVEYOR BELT. RICHARD ON SPEAKER PHONE WITH AUNT GWENDOLYN.
(Turns key in door and walks into the McKnights’ kitchen, frustrated)
Ion even like animals and y’all got me here lookin’ for some bunny! He betta hop his way to that airport if he knows what’s good fo’ him. Where y’all leave Otis at?
Ion know! Malachi said Otis was on the kitchen counter.
(Spots Otis in his cage chewing on a carrot)
Ugh! There’s that rodent! What’cha expect me to do? Sell him back to PetSmart?! Ain’t nobody gon’ pay for dis.
What’chu mean sell him to PetSmart? Could you please bring my baby to the airport?
Girl, you crazy? Alright, fine! But’chu know Social Security don’ pay me enough for gas money! You gon’ owe big me for dis one.
FAMILY IS HOLDING UP THE LINE AND IS FORCED TO GO THROUGH SECURITY. RICHARD PUTS PHONE ON THE CONVEYOR BELT TO GO THE THROUGH METAL DETECTOR. AUNT GWENDOLYN HESITANTLY GRABS OTIS’ CAGE AND DRIVES TO AIRPORT.
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(Arguing with security officers inside airport)
But’chu don’ understand! I gotta get this bunny to my niece. I ain’t fit to nor do I have the time or patience to care for a bunny.
SECURITY OFFICER #1
Ma’am, do you have a flight ticket for dis bunny?
Ticket?! He ain’t holdin’ no seat!
SECURITY OFFICER #2
He needs a ticket for public health purposes. I’m sorry but I can’t let you or this bunny past this checkpoint without a ticket.
(Calls Richard back on the phone and he picks up)
I got two 10’9” security guards tellin’ me I can’t get past without a ticket. Looks like I’ma have me a feast of rabbit feet fo’ supper tonight!
AIRPORT PA SYSTEM ANNOUNCEMENT
Last call for Flight 2481 to Gordes, France boarding at Gate 5. Again, all passengers for Flight 2481 make your way to Gate 5 immediately.
Boi! What are you even saying?
Get cultured. It means ‘come on hurry up.’
FAMILY GRABS CARRY-ON LUGGAGE, RUNS TO GATE 5 AND BOARDS PLANE.
MONET STRUGGLES TO KEEP UP IN HER 5” STILETTO HEELS.
Girl, ain’t nobody tell you to wear twin towers on yo’ feet. I hope you fall. Those heels ain’t gettin’ you no mo’ French!
MONET SCOFFS. THE MCKNIGHTS BOARD THE PLANE JUST IN TIME.
TWO DAYS LATER AT MCKNIGHTS’ NEW HOME IN GORDES, FRANCE. DOORBELL RINGS.
Malachi! Come open dis door.
Why me?! Richard just standin’ there needin’ somethin’ to do.
Boy-if-you-don’t. . . Ain’t nobody else here speak French! Ain’t my fault you Einstein.
(Laughing at Malachi)
That’s what you get fo’ bein’ the smart one.
DOORBELL RINGS AGAIN.
(Opens door to Aunt Gwendolyn. She’s with Otis’ cage and four suitcases)
Auntie! What are you doin’ here?! You miss me that much already??
(Storms in, leaving all of her suitcases outside)
Boi hush! Y’all know how long I been standin’ out there in the cold?! Croissants slowin’ you down already?
(Looks over at Richard)
Boi go get my bags and bring them in here. Otis out there too. I’m movin’ in. This is me collectin’ my payment.
Alicia! Come here right now! We done gots ourself one hella surprise!
END OF EPISODE ONE
Authors Shadiya and Maygen were inspired by Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion and the sitcoms Two and a Half Men and The Upshaws. Shadiya’s focus was presenting comedic situations, challenges, and lessons learned when a family of Texas natives—who live southern hospitality and are naturally loud and loving—get immersed into a small French village and a whole new culture. The authors wrote the pilot, “Southern Hospitality” in hopes the reader felt the close connection amongst the members of the McKnight family while finding the laughter in some of the good-natured yet feisty dialogue.
Shadiya Beckett is a 10th-grade student. They have a profound love for writing spoken word poetry, as well as mystery stories. They also write songs and have performed in front of various audiences, including at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center and Maimonides Hospital. Aside from composing, Shadiya is obsessed with making floor plans and interior designing and has played almost every popular sport. While they currently have no published work, they hope to have their debut book, titled Red Brick, published within the next year.
Maygen Tavares has worked as a Youth Engagement Counselor at Psychological Consulting Services in New Jersey. She works with children and adolescent struggling with emotional and/or behavioral issues. She manages several therapeutic groups and runs weekly one-on-one sessions. Maygen has a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Advocacy and has completed training and workshops in her area of work. Maygen has volunteered as an English and Writing Comprehension tutor for elementary and middle school kids in low income communities. She has also volunteered at several drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers for adolescents. She has been asked to speak at some of the rehabs and has done so on several occasions. Maygen has a profound love for writing poetry and personal memoirs. One of her written pieces was featured in the online LGBTQ+ magazine in 2012. As a result, she was asked by Garden State Equality, the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization in New Jersey to speak at the Superior Court’s trial hearing on October 21, 2013, the day same-sex marriage became legally recognized.