We all watched Issa Rae change the game when it came to content creation with Awkward Black Girl, and since her meteoric rise from the internet to HBO, folks have been putting out amazing web series left and right. Though Rae isn't the first writer/director/producer triple threat to get her talent out there, she did help light a spark for Black content creators who were having trouble getting mainstream studios and audiences to pay attention to their stories.
Since we live in a time when the world is literally at our fingertips, it seems like everybody and their mama has a show for us to check out. With so many options to choose from here are just seven of our favorite web series currently streaming for your binging pleasure.
We’re all out here trying to live our best lives, but Malachi (James Bland), Journee (Vanessa Baden), and Ade (Sean Samuels) are determined to do so no matter what it cost them. Raised as a devout Christian, Malachi is questioning everything as he approaches thirty. His soul searching leads him to uproot his life, quit his corporate job, and move to Los Angeles. Malachi’s BFF and roommate Journee struggles to keep a job since her chronic depression makes it difficult for her to get out of bed each day. Then there is Ade; a former engineering grad student turned dancer who has decided to be his true self no matter what anyone thinks.
Giants is captivating because the series tackles topics not often seen on mainstream television including homophobia in the Black community and mental illness.
Set in Chicago, a city that seems to be getting only negative attention in the media these days, writer Fatimah Asghar and director/producer Sam Bailey have brought the gorgeous and poignant Brown Girls to the small screen. The series follows two twenty-something women --best friends, Leila a Pakistani-American writer (Nabila Hossain) and Patricia, a sex-positive musician (Sonia Denis) trying to get their lives together.
As the ladies struggle with the trials and tribulations that come with figuring out their twenties, they also must confront their own issues including weariness towards commitment, sexuality, and familial ties. The series was such a massive hit when it premiered earlier this year that it garnered the attention of the folks over at HBO. This past summer, Asghar and Bailey secured a deal with the cable network to bring a television series based on the web series to an even bigger audience. The show will be produced by 3Arts and MXN Entertainment. Yasss to representation!
Clever in the City
Creator Chloe Marcano’s love letter to New York City is her web series Clever in the City. The series gives viewers an inside look into New Yorkers following their dreams as they balance their love lives and everything that goes into living and existing in the concrete jungle.
Marcano's candor and the black and white coloring of Clever in the City make it a must watch, especially since NYC can seem extremely overwhelming for transplants who aren’t quite used to its rapid pace and eclectic residents.
Single and Anxious
From the mind of director, creator and writer Christina Faith, Single and Anxious follows a group of friends Karissa (Milaya S. Gregory), T. (Branden Brook), Amaya (Daarinah Saafir). Tasha (Fann Sanders), Sebastian (Don Cephas), Santos (Jerrick Medrano) and Je’Kob (Brandon J McLean.) Called Girlfriends meets A Different World with just a hint of The Wire, Single and Anxious is faith-based without being obnoxious about it. It's a series that focuses on why we chose our specific paths and what we must confront as a result.
With no budget to speak of, Faith used local Philadelphia actors, her own tenacity and some stellar scripts to bring her vision to life. The second season of the web series recently dropped on Facebook and Faith is gearing up to begin shooting season 3 this spring.
With the premiere of Marvel’s Black Panther just around the corner, we are all gearing up to see Black superheroes in all of their glory. To get in formation early, check out The Black TV & Film Collective’s fantastic web series, Keloid. The coming-of-age series follows Keloid (David Nixon), a quiet teenager who has the gifts of telepathy, teleportation, and telekinesis along with his ability to control electricity.
On the run with his mother for most of his life in order to keep his abilities a secret, Keloid finds himself desperately wanting to connect with someone while getting to the core of why he’s so different. The first season of the series which is written and produced by Black TV & Film Collective founder Huriyyah Muhammad follows Keloid's journey into discovering himself. Scripts for season two are currently in the works.
Dating isn’t easy in the 21st century, and it certainly isn’t all shits and giggles in a city like New York. Tough Love follows six millennials who are trying to make it work when it's not cuffing season and baecation. The series is in its third season and has all of the juicy dramatic plot twists you want from a drama series.
From director and executive producer Caleb Davis, Tough Love tells several stories. We meet Alicia and Quincy (The Long-Term Couple), Jordan Samuels (The Heartless Single Lady), Jackson Thomas (The Ruthless Bachelor) and Monica and Jason who are just trying to figure it out. Davis also serves as the series served as the editor, director of photography, camera operator, location manager and production designer, so he obviously does it all.
We hardly ever see male-female friendships on the screen, but Banna “B” Desta and Jalen Parker who are actually BFFs in real life are changing that. Their web series, Youth, etc., follow the besties trying to get it and keep it together in D.C. The episodes dive into semi-obscure topics like instapoetry and concerts, and it’s hella entertaining.
Though Blackness is at the core of the Youth, etc., the series also focuses on Jalen and B's personal and professional lives. There are also nuances here. B is a 1st generation Black woman while Jalen is a queer Black man. Their differences shape them and keep their friendship strong.
Aramide A Tinubu is a film critic and entertainment writer. As a journalist, her work has been published in EBONY, JET, ESSENCE, Bustle, The Daily Mail, IndieWire and Blavity. She wrote her Master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can find her reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.com or tweet her @midnightrami