There have been a LOT of productions over the past decade touting themselves as the “next” Sex and the City. Or the Sex and the City for Black people. Most, if not all of them, have fallen short. That is, until now. With Harlem, which premiered this weekend on Amazon Prime, creator Tracy Oliver may have finally cracked the code on a successful sitcom starring an all Black female ensemble, not only matching but surpassing anything SATC ever was.
Sure, I know that might sound sacreligious. Women, Black and white and all the world ’round, loved the Darren Star project, and made no bones about seeing one of the four ladies that most related to them. I get it. However, with the exception of UPN’s Girlfriends, which made its debut after SATC began airing, there really hasn’t been a series that did a great job depicting Black women in all of their true colors (Note: Living Single doesn’t count. It’s in a league of its own. I won’t insult it by including it in this discussion). The one to come closest is probably Run The World, the Leigh Davenport-created series that debuted earlier this year on Starz (heyyyy Bresha!). It even featured Harlem as a character. Still, if we’re being honest, it wasn’t or isn’t what Harlem is. This series, thanks to its writers and actors, is finally a platform that allows Black women to shine.
Starring Meagan Good in a role that finally accentuates her talents Harlem is a comedy following a group of stylish and ambitious girlfriends. Good stars as Camille, an adjunct professor seeking tenure at Columbia University. Grace Byers (Empire) is Quinn, who quit her well-paying day job to follow her dream of being a fashion designer. Jerrie Johnson stars as Tye, a tech savant that created a game-changing dating app for the LGBTQ+IA community. And then there’s newcomer Shoniqua Shandai as Angie, a singer and actor trying to find her way off of her friend’s couch and back to the stage. They all shine in the ten-part series, as they deal with situations that definitely face most 30-somethings making their way in New York.
If you know me you know Shandai is my favorite. She’s the freespirit that never holds her tongue, even when it’s to her detriment, yet always has her girls’ backs.
It’s just a delightful series from Oliver, the writer of the hit film Girls Trip and one of the writers for the breakthrough web series The Misadventures of An Awkward Black Girl, that can be binged in one sitting, and features support roles from EGOT Whoopi Goldberg, Jasmine Guy, Sullivan Jones, Tyler Lepley, and Ashlee Brian.
If there is any negative about the series, it would be the way the men are portrayed. They come across as clueless and, especially in the early episodes, as mere plot devices to help the ladies tell their stories. Later on they do evolve into somewhat three dimensional characters, but only but so much. And that’s fine. This series is not about them anyway.
Come for the ladies, and stay for the brilliant wordplay of the writers and the even more brilliant subplot that gave a huge nod to Jordan Peele before coming to a predictable yet hilarious conclusion. I promise I’m gonna be laughing for a while at that one.
Harlem, starrng Meagan Good, is currently airing on Amazon Prime.
People that know me can vouch for this: I’m usually all in with moms on Black dramatic series. However, Jace’s mother on Swagger is losing more and more cool points each week.
If you haven’t watched last week’s episode of Insecure, please do. That opening scene, in the hospital hallway, made me spit out the water I was drinking. Very well done.
While at my old job, we sponsored a tour featuring Maxwell. He was all-tailored suit-everything every night on every stage. Soooo, to see him at this year’s Soul Train Awards in a baggy ensemble was… different. Also, at the beginning of the show he had braids, but by the time he performed they were out. Gotta love it.
It was great seeing Black Lightning back on my television screen during this week’s episode of The Flash. And that little bit we saw of Javicia Leslie at the end of the episode was.. goodness. Whew.
If you only knew the joy that I feel when I see Yvette Nicole Brown running across the room in those T-Mobile commercials. She’s so good. LOL
What are you watching? Please leave a comment and let me know.