Black Sitcoms To Enjoy Instead Of Watching Black Trauma Porn

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Yeah. I’m good.

Last month, I started binging THEM on Amazon Prime and I stopped after episode 4. I was expecting a horror series, but ultimately all I saw was real-life traumatic moments from the past recreated in hour-long episodes. I did not need a reminder that a large number of wypipo didn’t appreciate Black families moving into close proximity of them. Many viewers shared my similar frustrations online with the Little Marvin-created series and actually targeted the show’s executive producer, Lena Waithe, in their reviews, for her latest attempt to only show moments of extreme violence on Black people. Waithe faced the same kind of backlash after the release of Queen & Slim. The 2019 film about a couple on the run after killing a police officer following a traffic stop was panned for its brutal ending by audiences because the screenwriter, Waithe, decided to keep the fictional narrative accurate to the demise of unarmed Black people killed by the police in recent news.

Audiences argue that her choices to show real-world violence in her fictional work are unnecessary to the plotlines and actually exploitative. From what I’ve gathered from reviews and social media, episode five of THEM features the most gruesome displays of violence in the anthology, the rape of a Black woman and the death of a Black child. This is where I got off this particular ride.

Black creatives have an obligation to tell our stories to preserve our history. I understand the importance of Barry Jenkins’s latest project The Underground Railroad on Prime but I’m going to avoid that like I avoided Misha Green’s WGN series Underground. There might be a pattern here with my viewing habits because I did watch a few episodes of Green’s HBO series, Lovecraft Country, but for some reason, I stopped after episode four. As of this writing, I haven’t resumed watching the last six episodes.

With Lovecraft Country, we are subjected to watch a story in the past starring Black people, but the horror and supernatural elements are abundantly clear in episode one. I wish I avoided watching Antebellum, instead, I watched a thriller starring Janelle Monae that did not have a great payoff for the opening fifteen minutes of Black people being whipped on a plantation. Somehow writers now believe that race should play a part in a protagonist’s victimhood. Race should play a part when fleshing out a character’s backstory and personality, not have it be the only reason that the story is happening to them.

Being inside last year, due to the pandemic, was a choice and sacrifice we made for our physical health but might have hindered our mental health. Protests were held and videos were shared to evocate the message “Black Lives Matter,” but unfortunately, a continuous number of Black bodies had to be slain to keep the momentum for justice. The content we consume can have a negative or positive effect. Scientists have said that the best way to curb anxiety is to watch shows and films already seen as to not be surprised or in a sense of worry from the unknown.

Last year, I watched shows and films I’ve already seen because they gave me a level of comfort shielding me from the dumpster fire known as 2020. For new shows and films, I avoided anything with heavy subject matter. There were some exceptions. For instance, I enjoyed Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You. Coel’s HBO miniseries was a semi-autobiographical show about a writer’s night out ending with being drugged and sexually assaulted. During the series run, I did take a break from my weekly views before finishing the series. Coel received the praise deserved for her writing and performance on the show.

Once again, many are proclaiming it to being a “Renaissance for Black television.” If we didn’t say this every five years, I would give it more merit. If current television wasn’t compared to only the ’90s, I would give validity to the people saying it’s a “renaissance.” I’m only here for positive coverage given to the creators behind the new shows. In the last two months, Coel has graced the cover of Variety, Lena made it to the covers of Entertainment Weekly and Ebony, and Issa Rae was on the cover of Rolling Stone bearing the title “TV’s Queen of Comedy.” I have to agree, even with misguided storytelling from some we are in a good time for Black TV shows.

Waithe is the star of the third season of Netflix’s Master of None titled Moments of Love. Speaking of Netflix, they know their audience and when there is a void that people are missing, they’re there to the rescue. Last year, several Black sitcoms from the ’90s and aughts landed on the streaming service to high praise. (S/O to @JasmynBeKnowing) I believe that has influenced Netflix to produce more family-based sitcoms starring Black casts. Family Reunion tested the waters early and is now in its second season. Recently, the Loretta Devine and Tia Mowry starring comedy is joined by freshmen sitcoms, the Jamie Foxx and David Alan Greer-led Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! and the Mike Epps vs Wanda Skyes battle known as The Upshaws.

Netflix ain’t the only place to find funny Black people. BET, ever heard of it? The Viacom channel has the Waithe produced Boomerang almost in its third season and her loosely semi-autobiographical Twenties currently filming its second season. it’s streaming app, BET+ has Better and First Wives Club, both in their second seasons. Lena has The Chi on Showtime so her being able to have Twenties on there as well makes sense. I don’t know how BET got Showtime to also carry the first season of First Wives Club, but it’s also available there.

The mysterious third and fourth seasons of Atlanta are coming soon according to its creator’s Twitter. Issa is working on Rap $hit for HBO Max. Quinta Brunson’s Abbot Elementary pilot just got picked up to series at ABC and is on the way. Run The World from Yvette Nicole Bowser, the creator of Living Single and executive producer of Netflix’s Dear White People premiered on Starz on May 16. All these shows and accolades and I still found some shows I enjoy that are under too many people’s radar and deserve some shine. Your mental health will thank me.

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