TV shows highlighting stories of Black excellence

These+shows+can+be+found+on+HBO+and+Netflix.+Photo+via+Flickr

These shows can be found on HBO and Netflix. Photo via Flickr

Now that we are about halfway through Black History Month, here are a few T.V. shows that showcase stories of Black excellence. These shows can be found on HBO and Netflix, and feature prominent Black roles, Black direction and Black culture.

Lovecraft Country (2020)

One season on HBO

Lovecraft Country follows the journey of Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he, his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett), and his Uncle George (Courtney Vance) travel across the country in search of Atticus’s father. It’s based on the book Lovecraft Country, written by Matt Ruff. The two major roadblocks they endure are of very different magnitudes. One is the Jim Crow society they live in, dealing with racist sheriffs, segregation, and racism. The other is mystical creatures, spells, wizards, and magic. Two very different topics, but director Misha Green and executive producer Jordan Peele do an incredible job of tying the two ends together.

They highlight how Black culture was back in the pre-civil rights era, the roadmap Black people had to follow to survive traveling cross-country, and the contrasted standard of living between Black and White people during that time. The soundtrack for this show is well put together and ties in nicely with the points Green and Peele are trying to convey.

Insecure (2016) 

Four seasons on HBO

This one is much more lighthearted but also has a great soundtrack filled with both popular and lesser-known hits. “Insecure” follows the life of Issa Dee (Issa Rae) and her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji) as they navigate their relationships, their jobs and their lives out in Los Angeles. This modern-day comedy series explores what it means to be a confident Black woman, including dealing with some of the various social issues that come with it.

Dear White People (2017)

Three seasons on Netflix

A satirical take on modern-day discrimination at a predominately white Ivy League School, “Dear White People” is about the students of color at the fictional Winchester University as they uncover the racist tendencies of their school. The show is anchored by a podcast hosted by Samantha White (Logan Browning) that aims to address the racist tendencies of some of their white peers in hopes of giving Black students a greater voice.

With a predominately Black cast, director Justin Simien does an excellent job of incorporating real-world problems for people of color at a fictional University that is unfortunately all too realistic at predominately White schools.

When They See Us (2019)

One season on Netflix

A heartfelt and heartbreaking documentary about the Central Park five. Five Black and brown kids were wrongly accused and imprisoned for the rape and murder of a woman in Central Park back in 1989. The teenagers were sent to jail for a range of six to 13 years and served their full sentences for crimes they didn’t commit. “When They See Us” follows this story from when they were questioned in 1989, to when they were exonerated in 2002, to when they received a settlement from the City of New York. While it is hard to watch at times, it also tells a story that is true for a lot of people of color: that so many are imprisoned for crimes they did not commit.

Some other shows that feature prominent Black characters are Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Black-ish, Atlanta, Power, and Snowfall to name a few.

This story was written by Quinn Faeth. He can be reached at quinlan.faeth@marquette.edu.