So I chose to focus on Black TV over anything else because it has been a very stellar year for it. It feels like we are getting close to where black TV was in the early 90s in terms to the diversity on the air and the people having opportunities to get stories out. So first things first this could be a longer list and more in-depth on each choice but come on this is just a nice little quick list for the end of the year. Also, no Luke Cage on this list, because I don't watch anything Marvel so if you wanna stop reading or are gonna hate the list then it’s all good but it ain’t changing – look for that Marvel love from other folks. Lastly, I wanna give an honorable mention to Cardi B from Love and Hip Hop original recipe aka NYC for breathing life back into that show and being flat out hilarious. 2016 national treasure right there.
Insecure: Episode 7 "Real as F**K"
You know most people would go with the last episode, Messy AF* with the final scenes or maybe even the pilot but to me this episode being the climax of the season with all the things coming together and in a lot of ways the character of Issa winning professionally while her personal life goes to complete chaos takes it up a dramatic notch. It’s something that feels completely real and authentic. From her taking charge with her white co-workers to her trying to curve Daniel in the most savage way to her serious almost friendship-shattering argument with Molly.
*note Issa's savagery
This is the episode that has you on your feet and has the most payoff of the whole season.
The People V. O.J. Simpson: Episode 5 “The Race Card”
The highlight of this great episode that had me watch like over and over again was the scene above with Johnny straight beast mode in the courtroom finishing a fantastic speech. Letting everyone know just at how high a level he is working here and while walking back and whispering “nigga please”. MAAAAAN that right that like seeing Jordan push and drain that jumper on the Jazz or more recent when LeBron ran up on Steph Curry and blocked that shot and mouthed those words get that weak shit outta here. It was like Common dropping bars on the Bitch in You to Ice Cube. The scene while fictionalize is said to have happened but the whole thing was framed so well in how it was shot and edited. If I could give an Emmy for the hardest scene in the year it would go to this.
The Carmichael Show: Season 2 Episode 2 “Fallen Heroes”
This is the episode about Bill Cosby and his allegations and how this black family debates the issue of Cosby’s place now. It’s complex and it handles it in a very complex way with great performances and jokes. The beauty of it is that this happens in a black sitcom on the network that The Cosby Show aired originally and laid the foundation for Jerrod Carmichael to have a primetime sitcom. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen on a sitcom great points about what’s more important, The Art or the Artist?
OJ: Made In America
This is a cheat but this whole dang gone documentary was next level. The examination of OJ and the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson & Ron Goldman and the court case about it in the context of Race in America from the civil rights movement all the way up to 2000s might be one of the best and most honest looks at the issues of racial divide in America post MLK I’ve seen yet. This is some of the best nerd TV I watched all year. It was interesting to have these conversations again now as an adult instead of a teenager; and to talk to people who were too young to really get what was going on. And even more to see how certain things haven’t really progressed. If a major word of this year was getting “woke” then this was requirement viewing.
Atlanta: Episode 7: B.A.N
So overall this show Atlanta, along with Insecure I feel really set the tone for new voices in black filmmaking and storytelling. This episode with Paper Boi on the Montague, a weekly talk show where people debate the issues on a fake Black America Network is such a great piece of satire. As Paper Boi has to debate whether Rap music is having negative effects on minds of people again the really dry host and the white liberal woman and her antagonistic points against the music is fantastic to watch. Paper Boi’s frustration with the whole situation is all over his face. Brian Tyree Henry really takes over the whole episode with his performance mostly through his face. His delivery of the lines are also fantastic, so good it feels like "Did they even write this?" because it all feels so honest. And on top of all that you have fake commercials and this great piece about the man who feels he’s trans-racial – a white man stuck in a black man’s body. Most shows would’ve thought they were good with just the talk show plot but nope, Atlanta does the most in the best way and goes all the way with it and puts you in a world.
*note Paper Boi's face speaks for us all
Queen Sugar: Pilot “First Things First”
You wanna know just how good Ava DuVernay is? She got me watching OWN once a week. My TV used to be allergic to OWN but this show from the writing, cinematography and music are all of such a high quality that it drew me in. So many scenes and shots in the pilot stand out but one that still sticks with me is when Charley Bordelon-West see the footage of what her NBA has done it’s like some next level Waiting to Exhale Angela basset moment. All it needs is some prime era LaFace Babyface song sung by Mary J Blige to go with it.
Aight folks this is it. These are the bangers. If you haven’t watched any of these shows then you should put these on your queue and watch them before some return or before new stuff come out and you get too far behind. See y'all later!