Black Web Series
In alphabetical order. Annotated descriptions continually added. Updated 4/14.
I created this page as a response to the interest I’ve seen in my previous post about black web series.* I thought this format would be easier to follow and be more a guide for those interested in exploring this emerging medium. Please send suggestions and comments — especially if you want your series listed or if there is a mistake on your listing — to my email address (ajean (at) asc (dot) upenn (dot) edu) or in the comments section. Or visit my homepage for more info about me. Some of the descriptions come from my article on this topic for The Root, which I’d like to think of as the first serious consideration of these shows. For more shows — including some Spanish language series — check Rowdy Orbit.
I’ve starred** personal favorites or one’s worth checking out.
Afro City, http://afrocitytv.com
Four fabulous women deal with life and love. Debuts March 2010.
Anacostia (creator: Anthony Anderson), http://www.anacostia-thewebseries.com
A soap opera about the Washington, D.C. neighborhood, including issues of marital problems, violence and same-sex love. Anthony Anderson, quoted in the Examiner, says the show is a throwback to the 80s primetime soaps: “The show is escapism…It shows Anacostia in a completely different way that I don’t think people get a chance to see. People usually see ‘local teen gets shot’, but, they don’t see everyday that there are people out there working, striving and have great lives.”
Bachelor Pad, At Our House, Our First Date, Make Me Over (creator: Frank B. Goodin, II), http://blackdimensionstv.com
Black Dimensions TV has four web series around issues of the family and dating, in such settings as the black barbershop.
Blood Brothers (creator: Von Ware), http://www.youtube.com/BloodBr0thers
Buppies (creator: Julian Breece), http://buppies.bet.com**
Buppies is a “mad-cap romp” through a day in the life of Quinci, played by Fresh Prince’s Tatyana Ali, a socialite and publicist enduring lots of drama amidst L.A.’s black upper crust. During this very bad day, she and her friends face issues of sexuality, pregnancy, dating, race, and careers and, most importantly, handle them in fabulous clothes!
The Cabonauts (creator: Hayden Black), http://www.cabonauts.com
Chick (creator: Kai Soremekun), http://whoischick.com**
In the series, the protagonist Lisa leaves her loser boyfriend to pursue loftier dreams. She hears about a secret academy that trains superheroes, and the story progresses from there. While obviously a narrative of female empowerment, Soremekun does not want to scare off men; she wanted to story to have multiple layers.
For more on Chick see my interview with creator Soremekun.
Christopher Street TV, http://www.christopherstreettv.com
Christopher Street, created by Dwight Allen O’Neal, explores black gay men as urban performers.
The Chronicles, http://www.thechroniclestv.com
Drama Queenz, (creator: Dane Joseph), http://dramaqueenztheseries.com**
Drama Queenz, which is about three gay men trying to make it as actors and singers, is just one of several shows aimed at the underserved black gay and lesbian markets online. After the cancellation of television’s marquee gay and lesbian shows over the years—Queer As Folk, The L Word and Noah’s Arc, the only all-black show—Web producers have moved in to fill the gap.
“I didn’t want to wait around for somebody to greenlight my dream,” said Drama Queenz creator, director and writer Dane Joseph, who funds the series out of his pocket. “It’s not a show about being gay or being black. Our show is more about our travails and trying to make it.”
For more on Drama Queenz, see my post.
Diary of a Single Mom, (creator: Robert Townsend), http://www.pic.tv/diary-of-a-single-mom
This Robert Townsend -produced series stars Monica Calhoun as a single mother looking to start her life over, not so glamorously. The series pulls in high profile guest stars like Billy Dee Williams and Richard Roundtree.
Dubplate Drama, http://www.youtube.com/user/DubplateDrama
A British series about the world of hip hop with lots of drama. Distributed by MTV Base and Channel 4.
Johnny B. Homeless, (creator: Al Thompson) http://www.JohnnyBHomeless.tv
Johnny B Homeless explores the comic adventures of a young man who migrates from couch to couch. Conceptually inspired by Quantum Leap, each episode has Johnny B. waking up on a different couch, at times needing to remember how he got there. It took the People’s Choice award at the New York TV festival, and Kenan Thompson, of Saturday Night Live, joined to film an episode. Al Thompson, the series creator and star, also has another series, Lenox Avenue.
Habesha Life, (creator: Ambessa Jir Berhe), http://habeshalife.com
An artistically shot web series that explores the personal and romantic lives of young Habesha.
Kindred, (creators: Jessica Hartley, Maureen Aladin, Ella Turenne), http://kindredseries.com**
Originally pitched to HBO and Showtime, Kindred garnered some corporate interest, but its trio of producers and actresses decided to take it online after confronting the lack of demand for black shows on television. The show follows three black women—an artist, public servant and executive—as they deal with family, particularly their mothers, relationship problems, body issues, racial identity problems and career obstacles.
“After being involved in the industry, each of us over a decade really, we were concerned about what we’ve seen on television,” co-producer and star Ella Turenne said of the need for shows about black women “supporting each other.”
“These are real lives. It’s not The Office. Real life is dealing with the good the bad and the ugly,” said Jessica Hartley, co-producer and star.
For more on Kindred, see my post.
Lenox Avenue, (creator Al Thompson), http://www.lenoxaveseries.com
Al Thompson’s dramatic series follows the lives of three friends living in the “new” Harlem. Each man is at a different stage in his life romantically: one has a “friend with benefits,” a relationship he never made official; one has a longtime girlfriend he is considering proposing to; and the other is relatively uncommitted. The show’s leads are financially secure but personally maturing. Thompson grew up in Harlem. The series debuts in 2010.
Lovers and Friends Show, http://www.insyteproductions.com/The_Lovers_%26_Friends_Show
The Lovers and Friends Show, which has a substantial following on YouTube, focuses on a large ensemble of lesbian and bisexual women of color, most of them black. The series tries to be more than a show, aiming “to build an online community in which people can feel free to express themselves and their sexuality,” according to its Web site.
Make It Happen, http://makeithappenhollywood.com
Me and My Old Man, http://www.meandmyoldman.com
Money Power & Respect, http://www.tpn1.com/webisode.html
The New Twenties (creators: Tracy Taylor, Mauriece Dwyer), http://www.new20stv.com
The New 20s is the brainchild of filmmaker Tracy Taylor and premiered recently at the New York Television Festival. The series explores the lives of a number of black professionals transitioning from the 20s to their 30s. The show tells its story in a semi-realistic way, forgoing one-liners and slapstick bits and focusing on intimate conversations.
“The most important thing about the show is that it be real and relatable and dramatic and funny,” Taylor said in an interview with Black Planet. “Who doesn’t know a single dad or someone who is still struggling to get their career off the ground after 30? I just wanted to show real grown-ups dealing with adult issues.”
On the Stoop, (creator: Stephanie Parrott), http://www.stephanieparrott.com
On the Stoop, which released two episodes earlier in 2009 and will release five more, is most inspired by the ’80s show 227, but is really a throwback to many of the classic black sitcoms of that era. “It was one of my favorite shows when I was younger and as an actress, that’s the kind of comedic work I’d love to do, however, as you can see, shows such as 227, Cosby Show, Amen, etc., don’t really exist for us anymore,” creator Stephanie Parrott told me. “So, I figured, why not write it myself? As my acting career progresses, I plan to do more comedic web series and bring on more talented minority actors.”
Each episode is self-contained, so users can jump in wherever they choose!
Orlando’s Joint, (creator: Terence Anthony), http://orlandosjoint.com.
Lo-fi web series Orlando’s Joint is about a young man who inherits a second-rate coffee shop . Orlando’s Joint — as in a shop, but also, you know, that other kind of joint — is a comedic series that explores running a local urban business, growing up and being not-so-rich in contemporary Los Angeles. Orlando Reed, our protagonist, is a “stoner” (something of a slacker), but he inherits an coffee shop — that isn’t Starbucks — and clearly intends to reinvigorate it with the help of two friends a few kooky characters.
For my interview with the creator, see this post.
The PuNanny Diaries, http://www.punannydiaries.com
Road to the Altar, http://www.roadtothealtar.com
Semi-Dead, (creator: Chris Wiltz), http://www.semi-dead.com
Chris Wiltz, a young filmmaker, created this horror-comedy, spending his own money filming this buddy comedy about two roommates in living in Los Angeles after its been overrun with zombies. Each guy has a very different reaction to the event: one, Joe, “goes into survival mode,” while the other Chris, goes about his life as if nothing has happened.
For my interview with the series creator, see this post.
Shop Talk, http://shoptalk.bet.com
Stirred, Not Shaken, http://stirrednotshakentv.wordpress.com
While not specifically focused on “black” experiences, Stream, FEARNet’s sci-fi psychological thriller, stars one of the greatest black actresses today, Whoopi Goldberg. Goldberg’s character experiences a confusing psychological event, blurring her ideas of time and space.
Urban guerrilla sketch comedy. From the website: “Tickles.tv is a new market place that celebrates this niche phenomenon, providing a platform to take unconventional risks that challenge stereotypes, stimulate intellect and celebrate urban culture.”
Wed-Locked, (creators: Lawrence and Shay Saint-Victor), http://saint-victor.net
From the website: “Follow this newly married couple on their first hysterical year of being married. Wed-Locked features The Guiding Light’s very own Karla Mosley and Lawrence Saint-Victor, directed by Christina Faison. ‘Getting Married Is Only The First Step.’”
The World of Cory & Sid, http://coryandsid.com
*Disclaimer: There is some folly in labelling a series “black.” Some of the shows below would take that label, some would not. What is a black web series? These are more my best guesses. Some of the shows below have only one major black lead and white side characters; some only have one but it’s a major star; and some have people of color behind the camera. In general, I’m keeping my definition as open as possible.