Mandatory Staff Picks: Black TV Shows That Keep Us Woke
Television gets a bad rap, but when it’s good, it can be a window into the lives of others that we might not otherwise be exposed to. While diversity has been sorely lacking on major TV networks for decades, the advent of streaming has opened up a whole new avenue for narratives about characters of color to reach viewers. While we certainly watch TV for its entertainment value, there’s something to be said for series that also challenge us to consider perspectives other than our own. That’s why we’ve rounded up the black TV shows that keep us woke. Watch these and see what you — and the stale white-centric entertainment industry — have been missing.
Cover Photo: HBO
Mandatory Staff Picks: 12 Must-See Black Culture Movies
In this hilarious HBO series, Issa and Molly are best friends trying to figure out dating, work, and identity in contemporary Los Angeles. The dialogue is smart yet slang-filled, the sex scenes are steamy, and the cinematography is stunning.
This binge-worthy Showtime series follows the interwoven lives of multiple black adults and teens as they grapple with upward mobility, racism, and relationships in modern-day Chicago.
'When They See Us'
This Netflix limited series tells the story the Central Park Five, a group of black and Latino teens wrongly accused, convicted, and jailed for the rape of a white woman in Central Park in 1989.
'Dear White People'
Based on the critically-acclaimed 2014 film of the same name, this satirical Netflix series centers around students of color at a predominantly white Ivy League institution and the ways they confront issues of race.
Created by Donald Glover, this award-winning series focuses on a Princeton dropout who dedicates himself to launching the hip-hop career of his cousin.
James "Ghost" St. Patrick is winning at life – or so it seems on the surface with his successful nightclub, beautiful wife, and enviable penthouse in Manhattan. But St. Patrick leads a double life, one that drags him into the dangerous and dirty drug world.
This gritty FX series is set in Los Angeles circa 1983 as the crack epidemic explodes. Damson Idris stars as 19-year-old drug dealer Franklin Saint, who moves from selling marijuana to cocaine, discovering the violent underbelly of the business in the process.
A wildly successful hip-hop and entertainment company becomes a source of contention for the Lyon family when the patriarch CEO is diagnosed with ALS and must choose a successor.
'She's Gotta Have It'
A millennial incarnation of Spike Lee’s 1986 film of the same name, this Netflix series follows Brooklyn artist Nola Darling as she explores her sexuality and juggles multiple lovers.
This sitcom drops viewers into an upper-middle-class African-American family navigating all of life’s mishaps and merriment.