The idea that #RepresentationMatters is not new. The American entertainment industry has been called into question time and time again for its lack of diversity, far before the #OscarsSoWhite movement prompted a nationwide conversation surrounding racial representation in Hollywood. Of course, intersectional representation in Hollywood is even more lacking. Actors that deviate from the norm of the straight white male protagonist are lucky to play a recurring character on a network TV show. To fill this lingering void, here is a list of semi-accessible, representational, women of color (WOC)-led shows, so that we can all be spared of yet another show about two and a half white heterosexual men.
1. Brown Girls (Web Series)
“Brown Girls is an intimate story of the lives of two young women of color. Leila is a South Asian-American writer just now owning her queerness. Patricia is a sex-positive Black-American musician who is struggling to commit to anything: job, art and relationships. While the two women come from completely different backgrounds, their friendship is ultimately what they lean on to get through the messiness of their mid-twenties. Written by Fatimah Asghar, directed and produced by Sam Bailey, this series is presented by OpenTV.”
Two-sentence review: The show you’ve always wanted to exist — a queer, WOC version of Broad City, Leila and Patricia are the friends you always thought should have a podcast or a web series, and now they do. Fun fact: Asghar is an ‘09 graduate of Brown University and a Mellon Mays Fellow.
2. The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl (Web Series)
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is an award-winning webseries that follows the life of of an awkward black girl named “J.” Created by Issa Rae, Awkward Black Girl served as the launching point for her HBO series, Insecure, for which Rae was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress – Television Series Music or Comedy. Rae also wrote a Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl book, which became a New York Times Bestseller.
Two-sentence review: J is living the experiences we are all living, and thinking what we are all thinking, except she’s infinitely more funny; she is both you and your best friend, and when the series is over you’ll feel like a friend is moving away. Thankfully, you can still kind of hang with J if you watch …
3. Insecure (HBO)
“Created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore, the comedy series Insecure explores the black female experience….Over the course of the season, Issa (Rae) attempts to figure out what she wants out of life and how to take control of it, while fumbling her way through this journey. Molly (Yvonne Orji), a corporate attorney who appears to have everything together professionally, struggles inside as she looks for external ways to fix her life.”
Two-sentence review: A grown version of Awkward Black Girl, Insecure follows the lives of even more characters than its predecessor; all black folks who are unapologetically black and are learning how to navigate the workforce, love, and relationships. (Plus, that visual high definition is stunning).
4. Andi Mack (Disney Channel)
“Created and executive produced by acclaimed writer Terri Minsky (‘Lizzie McGuire’), Andi Mack is a contemporary, coming-of-age story about a relatable girl who’s trying to determine where she fits in and the many amazing ways she can live her life. On the eve of her 13th birthday her life goes from routine to roller coaster overnight when her free-spirited older sister Bex returns home with a revelation that changes everything, and sends Andi on an uncharted course of self-discovery.”
Two-sentence review: Mack seems en route to be a show with a run-of-the-mill Disney storyline in which the characters happen to be of color and does not seem to be a show necessarily about racial identity. It’s a notion which can contribute to diversifying representation just as much as other shows that directly address issues of race, like Insecure or Awkward Black Girl.
5. One Day at a Time (Netflix)
In One Day at a Time, “a newly-single mom and military veteran journeys through the triumphs and tribulations that come with raising two strong-willed, mega-millennial children, all the while enlisting the “help” of her old-school mother and her building manager-turned-invaluable confidante.”
Two-sentence review: One luxury that white television has is that there are, at any given moment, a thousand cheesy sitcoms ready to be picked up by any network. I have yet to see a really cheesy Latinx sitcom, but One Day at a Time could very well be the next Latinx Full House or Seinfeld– nonetheless, One Day is heartwarming, and about matriarchy (think Jane the Virgin!) and such beauty is definitely worth a weekend binge or two.
Are there any other WOC-led shows we should be watching? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com!