We’re a month past the halfway point of 2000’s 18th birthday. You’re an adult, bitch. Idealists figured you’d be living like Judy Jetson. Instead you’re gradually moving on up like Weezie Jefferson. Nevertheless, you persist and do things your way, unapologetically. Here are the best of those things in no particular order. Thanks for the gifts, sis.
The category is… life in every flavor. Stories in multiple shades. As gradual as it is, (Yes, we’re looking at you first Emmy for an Asian-American Actress in Lead for A Drama Series) change is coming. With the rise of streaming services and doors opening for new pens on paper, television is starting to reflect the world as it exists. Real world realness. While many cheat code success with yesteryears formula – there are those that delve into the past and present to gift a more reflective future.
American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace
With nostalgia on nauseating levels, Ryan Murphy managed to regurgitate a story many of us millennials weren’t so privy too – the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace in 1997. While Versace’s story was the one told then, Murphy opted to somewhat uncover the layers of his killer – the elusive faux gay aristocrat Andrew Cunanan. Darren Criss (Glee) shines as the mixed-race Californian whose skewed perspective of the American Dream wrought a fatal journey fueled by lies, sex, access and violence. Even with this dramatized adaptation, many questions still surround Cunanan’s truth in life and death.
Lena Waithe landed her initial pilot on Showtime after coveting an Emmy for her spectacular writing on Master of One.The drama centered in the heart of Chicago’s Southside depicts everyday life for a variety of individuals. Waithe – a native Chicagoan – hoped the series would help dispel the current rumors of the city and it’s inhabitants. These characters are like everybody else – with hopes, dreams, pain and pleasures. Season two cannot come soon enough.
Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil cemented their names in the superhero genre with the arrival of The CW’s first black comic series. Separate from the Arrowverse, viewers were introduced to Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) and family, as Pierce dons his electric super suit to protect the city of Garfield. Rather than just fight the regular evil doers, Jefferson also battles the threat of white supremacy as a black male and educator. The series touches the current social climate like no other, without feeling out of touch. It truly is a family drama with superhero action like no other series on television.
Star Trek: Discovery
Besides being on a pay-to-play subscription site, CBS’ new adaptation of the space saga is captivating, fresh and what the future of genre shows should be. Led by Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead), we enter the universe pre-Captain Kirk and Spock as Green’s Michael Burnam is demoted for mutiny, and classified as a threat to Star Fleet. Witness her return to glory as enemies near and far cascade peace and war throughout the galaxy.
For the People
For the first network series on my list, ABC and the producer of HTGAWM delivered a law series that felt set in reality. With a throwback to the order of the OG Law & Order, we see aspiring law students on both sides of the courtroom make their claims for justice, case by case. While it has it’s fair share of soapy drama between all sexes, it isn’t egregious (see: Quantico) and is more of a scope on the pulse of current social ills.
BBC flexed it’s programming muscle with the arrival of a killer dark comedy starring Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy) as an operative who becomes enamored with a female assassin. The series is gruesome, sleek and free in its expression of sexuality and what female characters can do on screen. In the vein of TNT’s Claws, Eve lives in the now, shaking the table of society’s obsession with binary: good and bad; gay and straight; love and hate. It granted Oh an Emmy nomination for Leading Actress in a Drama Series – the first for an Asian American actor. It also introduced the world to Jamie Comer, who brilliantly portrays the delightfully lethal Villanelle.
On My Block
The coming-of-age in LA comedy follows a tight knit group of Latinx teens who find their friendship tested by life and love. The show has a lot of heart in the narrative highlighting brown people, embracing their culture wholeheartedly. The climatic cliffhanger left me crushed and highly-anticipating the second season.
Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger
FreeForm entered the ring of the MCU with their modern telling of the two teenaged comic heroes. Set in the mythos of NOLA voodoo, a horrific incident changes the lives of two children from the opposite side of the tracks. Eight years later this tragedy reunites them as extraordinary powers manifest inside them. Will they rise to the challenge to hold the hero mantle, or remain lost in their dashed hopes and drowning fears.
Atlanta: Robbin’ Season
The best comedy on tv returned in Donald Glover’s surreal take on black life in the Dirty South. We were reacquainted with Earn, Paper Boi, Darius and Van through various, yet linear tales of escalating fame. From the hilarious day with barber Bibby, to the failed meet & greet with Drake, and the penultimate harrowing case of Teddy Perkins – the FX comedy garnered much deserved nominations in writing, directing and acting. Glover repeats with a nod for Lead Actor in a Comedy; as Brian Tyree Henry earns a Supporting Actor nom for his transformative performance in the “Woods” episode.
This Is Us
NBC’s breathtakingly successful family drama about The Pearsons finally answered the burning (no pun intended) question surrounding Jack Person’s death. After scoring mega ratings with the Super Bowl as a lead in, we witnessed Jack save his family and their dog from an engulfed home – only to perish from smoke inhalation at the hospital. With this truth we saw how that day shifted the Big 3’s lives. As season three arrives in September, we will get more of past present and future Pearsons. Have the Kleenex on deck for #TearsRUs.
Quinton and friends set out on a perilous quest in the third season of SyFy’s fantastical drama. As the world is drained of magic, these former pupils turned God-slayers make Harry Potter and is fight against Voldemort look like table top realness. Their magical world cannot free them from the real life strife that haunts young adulthood. And when their attempt at rescuing magic costs them the most, someone from their past demands they pay even more.
Luke Cage and Jessica Jones
Netflix and Marvel returned to NYC with the second installments of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Jones saw our destructive PI seek more answers for her past when she’s reunited with the dead. As she continues to deny the moniker of hero, Jessica struggles to prevent herself from becoming a villain. Luke experiences a similar journey of fighting off the darkness so easily accessible for someone with his abilities. When a new threat shakes the hierarchy of Harlem, Luke will have to reevaluate his approach to protecting the city. With both Iron Fist and DD3 coming this year, we’ll see how the franchise continues, especially with the pending arrival of the MCU’s next phase.