By Greg Brand Jr.
SOTG Entertainment Editor
Fans of drama, comedy, action, romantic comedy and suspense have long relied on television programming as a means to satisfy their need for visual stimulation.
In fact, once upon a time, specific nights of the week served as communal gatherings for the sole purpose of enjoying the evening’s television line up. Remember ABC’s TGIF or Fox’s Thursday nights with Martin, Living Single, and New York Undercover?
In recent years, consumption of entertainment material and media content has shifted dramatically from traditional systems that were in place just a few years ago. While there are still nights of the week dominated by television programming, most shows are now available at the convenience of the viewing public.
Thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, television can now work on the schedule of the viewer and not the other way around. Moreover, thanks to advancement in technology of both televisions and personal devices, T.V. can now be watched anytime and anyplace.
From seemingly out of nowhere the internet has exploded with a plethora of television-style scripted programming produced by and specifically for urban audiences.
Featuring everything from creative love stories to dramatic crime thrillers, black filmmakers are pumping out content that is television worthy if not yet available for viewing on an actual television. Interestingly enough, television in its traditional format may soon be a thing of the past, if these shows are any indication.
This movement to online viewing in black entertainment is seemingly taking full advantage of that easy availability. While the aforementioned for-pay entities like Netflix charge a for access to their content, a lot of the real action on internet “television” can be found on free and privately controlled sources like Youtube and Vimeo.
These shows or web series are hugely popular among their targeted audiences for featuring black characters and issues in ways that are not typically addressed or even explored on mainstream television.
The complex exploration of black relationships—romantic, platonic and situational—are all on display along with characters everyone is familiar with but are seldom displayed on television.
While some programming is similar in length as some of the shows you will find on cable or network television, a great many of them are actually shorter and easier to consume on the go. This makes them ideal for viewing on cellular phones, tablets, netbooks, and tablets.
Thanks to the appearance and evolution of production collectives like comedy wunderkind Issa Rae’s I Am Other, Black and Sexy TV, Dormtainment TV and Band of Artists just to name a few, black actors, writers, producers and entire crews are able to produce viable content worthy of viewing and enjoying.
Want to get into the internet’s black TV? Check out these shows:
About Him – This coming of age drama covers the angst and passions that occur for when a young man struggles to find and accept himself as a gay black man.
An African City – Featuring a cast of gorgeous African beauties, this show follows the lives of five women that have live in the United States but have moved back home to Ghana for their adult lives. Comedy ensues as they date, socialize and try to live African lives impacted by American expectations.
Black Boots – A fresh look at black college life for several young and attractive protagonists. It has been both praised and criticized for and interesting and eerily realistic explorations of Black Greek pledging (fictitious organizations, of course) domestic violence in college and even rape. Season two is current but definitely start with the first season!
Hello Cupid– This series explores the exploits of two friends navigating online dating. Season one sets high stakes when one friend uses a picture of the other and accidentally “catfishes” the man of her dreams.
Lenox Ave – This show takes a look at love and romance specifically from a guy’s point of view. With a too-cool cast and intelligent humor, this is a must see for black men.
No Shade– A hilarious look at three gay men and their transgender friend as they navigate life in New York City. Filled with one-liners, outrageous comedy, and the occasional sensitive subjects, No Shade manages to be fun and insightful.
RoomieLoverFriends – A hilarious three-season series that chronicles the exploits of platonic roommates that eventually become lovers. With friends, exes, parents and other’s expectations involved, this love may or may not have been doomed from the start.