With the third season of Insecure to premiere on HBO this August, and word that the premium cable network is adapting Brown Girls, another web series, for television, it has become evident the web series has become one of the primary avenues for major television networks to go to when they’re looking for new content. The web series format has also become an accessible format for black content creators to venture to tell stories that have not garnered attention for mainstream networks or mainstream audiences.
Since we live in an era where many creatives from marginalized communities are permitting themselves to tell their own stories, there’s a gamut of web series that touch upon issues still considered taboo on television. Here are nine web series currently streaming online for your viewing pleasure.
The brainchild of writer/creator Tiffany Patterson, Away chronicles the life of Nilay, a 20-something photographer who navigates the realities of adulthood while curbing the temptations that come with living in Los Angeles, a city brimming with vices. Ambitious and introverted, Nilay’s experience as a queer, black woman is one slice of a life story yet seen on mainstream media. Unique Jenkins’ performance as Nilay is understated, compelling and captivating, often communicating a variety of emotions through very little dialogue. Away is produced by Starter House Productions.
Adulthood post-graduation can be equal parts exhilarating and mentally taxing. Written, directed and produced by Christine Sanders, Barely Adults sets itself apart from other shows capturing the millennial experience in that it is a period piece set in 2008 in New York City at the height of the Great Recession. In the show’s first moments, we see Paige anxiously gnaw at the inside of her lip before she goes through a tense yet comedic interview with Kendra Hawthorne, an influential producer who boldly asks the college grad how many sexual partners she has. However, what starts as a dream job as an assistant to a power producer soon devolves into a crazy nightmare.
With the web series Brown Girls and the Showtime drama The Chi, Chicago is quickly becoming a go-to-city for creatives, showcasing that cities like New York or Los Angeles aren’t the only locations for storytellers. Adding to this canon comes the new web series NAPS. The brainchild of Chicago native Regina Hoyles, NAPS chronicles the life of a black millennial woman, fresh out of college, who navigates the world of adulting while managing her natural hair. Similar to Insecure, NAPS captures the microaggressions that black women face against well-meaning white people through sardonic humor.
The false narrative that black couples and black love are on the verge of extinction continues to permeate the mainstream media. Countering this false truth is Unrequited, a web series that serves as a meditation on unrequited love from the black perspective. The show centers around Jacques, a Haitian-born writer who lives in Brooklyn and reaps the benefits of his profession when The New York Times publishes an article he wrote. Despite this, his love life is a hodgepodge of romantic complications: his friend, Marla, who he only sees as a friend; Nyah, an old flame which only sees Jacques as a friend, and resurfaces in his life. Meanwhile, Jacques seeks advice from his friends Astryd and Marion to comprehend his unrequited feelings for Nyah.
Growing Up Immigrant
Created, written and executive produced by Nathaniel Kweku, Growing Up Immigrant chronicles the adventures of a first-generation Ghanian-American millennial named Nicholas, who has to adjust to living with his aunt while working at a digital media PR agency and navigating the complexities that come with interracial dating.
Brownsville is the web series that shows privileges of the lives of African American and Hispanic teenagers in ways we hadn’t seen since the ’90s when shows like Moesha and Sister, Sister were in syndication. The show, created by Dawntavia Bullard, is a ’90s-set teen drama that takes place in the inner-city section of Miami-Dade County called Brownsville. While teen dramas such as 90210, One Tree Hill, The OC and Degrassi are often with predominantly white casts, a television adaptation of Brownsville would give the format a much-needed redo.
Ghosts Of Fort Greene
Created by Lamont Pierre, Ghosts of Fort Greene explores the friendship between Hop and Skip, who have been best friends since middle school. However, their friendship changes when both men witness a murder in the neighborhood of Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Combine that with their baggage, and you’ve got a web series that reveals dark secrets as both Hop and Skip’s perception of one another changes as they grapple with life as street hustlers in Brooklyn.
Conceived by black creative Chance Calloway, Pretty Dudes centers around a group of male friends, both straight and gay, who lean on each other to get through love, work and insecurities in Los Angles. The series centers around Zario, played by Bryan Michael Nunez, who gets help from his straight friends in his quest to find a boyfriend. Queer and intersectional Pretty Dudes is the rare series that showcases nuanced friendship between gay and straight men, as well as that extraordinary series that showcases the lives of LGBTQ people of color. The web series also stars Yoshi Sudarso, Tae Song, Xavier Avila, Kyle Rezzarday and Olivia Thai. If you love Noah’s Arc, you will enjoy this, as well.
The New Adult
The premise for The New Adult is straightforward: after being kicked out of her parents’ home, Amber, a 30-something millennial, must learn to navigate adulthood on her terms. Created by Katherine Murray Satchell, an independent filmmaker who hails from Philadelphia, The New Adult balances comedy and drama with much ease.