As our nation—and the world—fights back against systemic racism and police brutality, highlighting the Black community is more important than ever. One way to highlight this community involves television.
I don’t necessarily mean watching the news—but that is important and I recommend that everyone keeps up with happenings around the world—but more or less watching television shows. There are several shows currently on TV or available to stream that involve Black families and communities, so today I’d like to discuss and recommend a few that I’ve watched (spoiler free and in no particular order).
However, before I begin, I want to say that these shows do a great job in both giving us a comedic break, while also focusing on the realities of the world we live in today. And the reality right now is that thousands across the country are marching for equal human rights after last week’s events. If you would like to help, you can do so by signing petitions and donating if you have the means. Black lives matter today, tomorrow and always.
Black-ish, Grown-ish and Mixed-ish
Kenya Barris’s Black-ish—starring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross—follows the Johnson family, an upper-middle class, Black family living in a predominately White neighborhood. Since its premiere, the show has received positive remarks in regards to the way it brings up subjects such as racism, police brutality and LGBTQ+ rights; one episode also focused itself around the 2016 presidential election.
Following the success of Black-ish came two spin-off series: Grown-ish and Mixed-ish. Grown-ish premiered in 2018 and follows the eldest Johnson child, Zoey (Yara Shahidi), as she makes her way through college and adulthood. Mixed-ish premiered just last fall and was recently renewed for a second season; the prequel spin-off follows a young Rainbow (Ross)—the Johnson matriarch—growing up with a White father and Black mother.
Black-ish and Mixed-ish hail from ABC, while Grown-ish airs on its sister network, Freeform. All three are available to stream now on Hulu.
Dear White People
Based off of Justin Simien’s 2014 movie of the same name, this Netflix original series follows a number of Black college students attending a predominately white ivy league school. Dear White People showcases the students going about life while navigating their way through forms of racism and discrimination, with most of the episodes focusing on one particular character, which I find to be one of the things I like most about this series.
Currently, the first three seasons are available to stream on Netflix, with the fourth and final season set to come out this year.
Insecure hails from co-creators Issa Rae and Larry Whitmore, and they partially based the show off of Rae’s web series, Awkward Black Girl. The show itself revolves around a woman (Rae) and her best friend from college, making their way through their careers and relationships. The best part about this show has to be that it highlights the sometimes-awkward moments in life; where people describe Black women as strong, the friends also showcase the reality of having flaws and insecurities.
Season four is currently airing every Sunday on HBO, and the first three seasons are available for streaming. And good news: Insecure was renewed for a fifth season!
Now I recently started watching #blackAF and I personally love it. Also hailing from Black-ish, Grown-ish and Mixed-ish creator Kenya Barris, the show follows Barris playing himself, but a fictionalized version; it shows him struggling with family issues, as well as an issue with the White Gaze—the White Gaze stems from Black literature, where White people pay Black people no mind unless they resemble White people themselves. The eight-episode season may be short, but it packs a lot.
#blackAF is available for streaming right now on Netflix.
Rounding out my personal recommendation list is Atlanta. Created by Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino, my king), the series follows a college dropout (Glover) who becomes in charge of managing his cousin’s rap career within the Atlanta rap scene. While in the midst of that, he’s also working on fixing his relationship with the mother of his child. The greatest part of the show is that it brings forth the comedy, while also staying true and real when it comes to facing reality.
Atlanta‘s first two seasons are available for streaming on Hulu. Fortunately, FX renewed the show for a third and fourth season; unfortunately, we have to wait until 2021, but it’ll be worth it.