- The Dipp -10 TV Shows That Celebrate Black Excellence
It is one of my favorite times of year, Black History Month. This month is all about celebrating and reflecting on Black history, and what better way to celebrate than to honor television series that highlight Black excellence and tackle important topics within the Black community.
To me, Black excellence means that these shows not only represent Black people in a positive way but also give us characters that show us in a light that we haven’t seen before. These titles humanized the Black experience and motivated so many, including myself, to chase my dreams, push myself to work harder, and give myself the room to be human.
So without further ado, here are 10 fantastic TV series to watch all year long that celebrate Black excellence.
The hit HBO comedy-drama focuses on characters Issa Dee (Issa Rae) and Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji) as they try to figure out their lives as young Black women in Los Angeles. What makes the show so special is that the main focus isn’t Black trauma, but rather situations that other young people go through (dating, financial issues, etc.) from a Black perspective. Executive produced by Issa Rae, this is the epitome of Black excellence.
Abbott Elementary is a brand new mockumentary-style sitcom on ABC that premiered in December. It stars Quinta Brunson as Janine Teagues, a second grade teacher at Abbott Elementary based in Philadelphia who is getting her footing as a brand new teacher in the public school system. The show tackles important conversations such as lack of funding for public schools and the importance of visibility in the classroom, while weaving in relatable topics like relationship issues and social awkwardness.
A Black Lady Sketch Show
A Black Lady Sketch Show is just that — a comedy show that is one of the few (if not the only) all-Black female-led comedy series out there. (It is also the first TV series to have a writer's room entirely composed of Black women.) It's executive produced by Issa Rae and created by star Robin Thede. It consists of comedic sketches performed by its fantastic cast, and holds a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes for both seasons.
I know many of you are probably familiar with Donald Glover’s musical persona, Childish Gambino, but did you know he’s also a phenomenal actor/producer? His show Atlanta, follows his character Earn, as he tries to make a better life for himself and his daughter. Earn is a music manager who sees potential in his cousin Paper Boi’s (Brian Tyree Henry) music career. It is a hilarious and heartwarming series with an all Black writing staff.
If you’re looking for an all Black family sitcom then black-ish is your show. The show provides a ton of different perspectives through its vast list of characters, while engaging in conversations about colorism, racism, and classism.
A spin-off of black-ish, grown-ish is based on the perspective of Yara Shahidi’s character Zoey Johnson, who is tackling college life and adulthood. The show gives the same vibe as A Different World, where you have young people trying to figure themselves out while having to deal with real life social issues as well. This show is perfect for any college student who wants to watch something that they can relate to, especially Black college students that find themselves in white academic spaces.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, then you aren’t a stranger to the iconic show Girlfriends. Executive produced by Mara Brock Akil and starring Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, Persia White, and Jill Marie Jones, the show follows the lives of four Black women who are best friends and the situations that they face on a daily basis, from relationship drama, to work issues, to issues within their friendship group. The show highlights the importance of friendship and the positive impact of having close friends who understand you on a deeper level (through race and gender). While, the series ended in 2008, you can still stream it on Netflix.
The Game is a spin-off of Girlfriends, also executive produced by Mara Brock Akil. The show follows Melanie Barnett, a young Black med student who is juggling school and her relationship with her NFL rookie boyfriend Derwin Davis. You have iconic actors on the show like Wendy Raquel Robinson (playing the hilarious Tasha Mack) and Rick Fox (playing himself) who bring this ensemble cast together. The show does a good job of examining Black wealth, racism within the NFL, and the camaraderie and friendship sports brings to the Black community.
When I think of iconic '90s TV shows, I immediately think of Living Single. Starring Queen Latifah, Kim Fields, Kim Coles, and Erika Alexander, and many others, the show follows a friend group based in New York City who are juggling their careers, love lives, and personal relationships with one another. What is so amazing about Living Single is that you get to see Black people in positions that at the time weren’t shown to the world. Queen Latifah’s character, Khadijah, is an editor in chief at a culture magazine, Erika Alexander’s character, Max, is an attorney in a very white male-dominated field, and Kim Fields’ character, Regine, is a wedding planner.
The Proud Family
Finishing this list is the Disney show The Proud Family. Following Penny Proud as she navigates school, family and her friendships, the show is an absolute classic because not only did it do a great job of addressing topics in the Black community, such as racism and classism, for a show geared towards children, but it also was so relatable for so many young Black kids out there (including myself). The show is being revived by Disney+ and will feature Penny in high school as she juggles being a teenager and the adversities that come with it.