In the early 80’s through the early 2000’s, black representation was rampant across numerous entertainment broadcasting networks. Raw and organic black living was portrayed to millions of Americans, regardless of race. No matter what you faced at work during the day, you were able to go home, cut on the TV, and get some good laughs out of classics like Martin. To make it even better, they touched on issues we were facing and they told jokes only we understood. We were able to cut on our TV’s and essentially be together watching, relating, and connecting through television.
Representation was everywhere. The 90’s and early 2000’s was booming with black TV. We had A Different World, Family Matters, The Game, Girlfriends, The Fresh Prince of Bell-Air, Family Matters, A Different World, One on One, Sister Sister, Moesha, My Wife & Kids, Martin, Everybody Hates Chris, and so on. But as the 2000s died out, so did our shows. UPN was a network that housed many popular black shows, and once it was sold, a lot of the shows were swept under the rug. It seemed as though Black TV shows were put on a hiatus in Hollywood for a while. Of course, there were Black characters on television, but they don’t come close to how Black characters are portrayed now.
Black Writers Have More Power Than Ever Before
Hollywood, especially Black Hollywood, needed this revamping!
No stone is left unturned in Black film and televisions these days. (See: Marvel Black Panther Colonizer Scene, or any episode of Dear White People)
Seriously, it is hard for anything to be taboo in 2022. And honestly, many things weren’t taboo back in the old days either, they just weren’t talked about. Just ask Quincy Jones.
Here and now, Black creatives have a lot to say with no filter. We are unapologetic in our art and opinions. This new era of black TV and film emerging before our eyes is probably the rawest look at being black in America, ever.
Shows like Black ish, P-Valley, Insecure, and Abbott Elementary are Black shows that represent all areas of our culture. They are rooted in Black realism.
Abbott Elementary is one of the most popular and refreshing shows that have premiered in the 2021-2022 season. Created by Quinta Brunson, the show was a mega hit. It follows a documentary crew who is recording the lives of teachers in underfunded schools. The mockumentary introduces viewers to second grade teacher, Janine Teagues and the rest of the educators at the predominantly Black Willard R. Abbott Elementary School. The show gives a nice balance between being extremely funny, while also showcasing the struggles that teachers working in underfunded districts go through.
P- Valley is also a newer show that is a fan favorite. The first season captivated viewers with entertaining characters at The Pynk strip club in the Mississippi Delta. P-Valley is a spectacular display of southern Black womanhood, and explores themes of poverty, racism, and misogyny. Its setting and scenarios paint a realistic and relatable portrayal of Black women.
Then we have shows like The Chi and Atlanta, where our main characters aren’t middle or upper class and have to deal with problems of the ghetto head on. In this strong scene from The Chi, Jacob Latimore’s character struggles with handling his duties as a father.
Lena almost had us crying at the screen! This is the power of the black pen. I think we can be thankful for the decline in Black television because it allowed us to reemerge stronger and freer than ever. Black opinions and views are plastered across every entertainment medium out today. On HBO, Issa Rae portrays the life of a single Black woman as she navigates her love life, everyday struggles, and her career.
Ava Duverynay never thought of directing, until she was in her late 40’s. So, don’t ever think your dream is too late. We need more black everything. There can never be enough. Always follow your true heart and know that the spirit of whoever you believe in, will guide you where you need to be.
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