Last night HBO premiered the highly anticipated new seasons of “Ballers” and “Insecure”, along with a new episode of the Starz hit “Power” Sunday is a must-see tv night. While watching all three shows which cover different genres, characters, and stories. I sat back and thought to myself are we experiencing a Renaissance of majority good to great black tv shows?
Think about it for decades we have asked for compelling tv shows that offer relatable characters that show the different nuances of black people in America and not just stereotypes. We all know about classics like Julia, Good Times, The Jeffersons, The Cosby Show, Martin, Living Single, A Different World, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, In Living Color, The Wire and Chapelle show. Or shows that may not be considered classics but are still universally loved Moesha, 227, Girlfriends, My Wife and Kids, Everybody hates Chris,What’s Happening, Steve Harvey show and more. If you noticed something I named mostly sitcoms and that's because for years that was the only genre given a chance on major networks.
Within the past 3-4 years due to the rise of streaming channels, newly created networks targeted towards blacks, and more platforms for content creators to share their stories. It’s created more opportunities for more stories to be told that we can connect with and offers something for everyone.
On the comedy and dramedy front “Insecure” definitely tackles what relationships and dating is like for black Millennials. Some of the situations in that show are so hilarious because you’ve been there or know someone who has. ABC’s “Blackish” which has DNA sprinkles of the “Cosby Show” as far as the family dynamic, and the “Hughley Show” and “My Wife and Kids” for the successful black man moving to the suburbs for a better life for his kids. Is very funny but also very socially conscious and the creators use interesting plots to teach the kids on the show relevant issues affecting our community. Give it a few years and “Blackish” will be a classic. Also on tying social commentary into humor the “Carmichael Show” tackled touchy subjects such as rape, spousal abuse, and death but the humor and care in the stories made it a one of a kind show. It’s a shame it was cancelled.
I would be crazy if I didn't include “Atlanta” I love that show!! It tackles a guy and his friends just trying to get ahead and the mischief they get into. The story also has a dark humor that resides in a surreal reality opening up new avenues for comedy. Such as the invisible car nightclub episode, if you haven't seen an episode watch “B.A.N.” which is a satirical episode which shows the genius of this show. I’m personally disappointed we won't get season 2 until Fall 2018.
Covering the soap opera drama front we have Scandal which I personally think started the black soap opera show format. Going into it’s final season it helped pave the way for “Being Mary Jane”, “How to Get Away with Murder”, “Empire”, “Queen Sugar”, “Star”, and “Greenleaf”. The soap opera genre is one I don't watch so I don’t have much of an opinion on these shows. From what I hear from folks that love these shows they are very engaging, drama filled and keep you coming back.
Along with these heavy hitters we have shows that are new such as “Claws” starring Niecy Nash as a hairdresser mixed into some business with the Cajun mafia. “Dear White People” on Netflix based on the recent film about life race relations on a modern college campus, “Hood Adjacent with James Davis” which is a sketch comedy show like the “Chapelle Show” and “Key and Peele”. “Snowfall” on FX which covers the beginning of the crack epidemic in 1980s LA. Underrated shows like “Survivors Remorse”, and “Rebel” Mini series like “Shot’s Fired”, even recently cancelled shows that had more to offer like “Pitch” and “Underground”. Coming up we have Netflix’s “She’s Gotta have it” which is an adaptation of Spike Lee’s 1986 movie. The CW will be bring a black superhero to the fold in “Black Lightning” mid season 2018.
All of these options we have available now are wonderful, as with anything we’ll have shows that just aren't good or don't stick for some reason. As we support more of the good shows and more shows are given opportunities it will only bring more good black tv shows to the forefront with higher standards Let’s embrace this renaissance that we’re living in and expect higher quality programming and more well rounded characters. Let’s thank our past content creators for kicking the door down(Bill Cosby, Wayans Family, Mara Brock Akil, Chris Rock, Spike Lee, Dave Chapelle, Russell Simmons, etc.) and opening these opportunities up for our current content creators such as Ava Duvernay, Shonda Rhimes, Oprah Winfrey, Kenya Barris, Tyler Perry, Issa Rae, Donald Glover, John Singleton, Lee Daniels and many many more. Thank You All!