2013 was a gold rush for African Americans film and TV. Films produced and directed by blacks did well and are on their way to winning awards. 12 Years a Slave, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Fruitvale Station. They represent only a smattering of films that have been a part of the new back film renaissance that has been playing out in the U.S. theaters over the past five years. But after this black, big screen explosion, some hope we can see a resurgence of black television.
To find the last time-frame in which we were able to enjoy a catalog of quality, well-written television programming featuring, produced or directed by people of African descent, one would have to go back to the 80s, an era when Bill Cosby dominated television programming with The Cosby Show. In the 90s he brought A Diff’rent World.
But these days, African Americans are able to green light more programming than at any point in the history of broadcast television. Currently, Tyler Perry rules black TV with his plethora of shows ranging from comedy to drama. And while some may have a problem giving him props because the type of comedy he pushes is believed to promote stereotypes, you can’t get away from the fact that he is in large part responsible for a great deal of black TV. African queen of ABC dramas, producer/writer Shonda Rhimes, brings diversified balance to Perry's tireless slap stick comedy.
However, the horizon doesn’t look good for black television programming in the first quarter of 2014. Like it or lump it, if you’re a television watcher then chances are you’re going to be watching shows mainly produced, directed and starring white folks. Despite the lack of diversified outlook, we still swallow the slim pickings and eventually find shows that we love or root for.
Fresh for 2014, here is a list of our favorite 9 upcoming shows that we think will help warm you through the winter months.
Being Mary Jane premieres Tuesday, Jan. 7, 10PM EST (BET)
Being Mary Jane stars actress Gabrielle Union as Mary Jane Paul, a television news anchor who deals with all the concerns of a successful black woman in modern America. Sexy, smart, and well-written thanks to creator Mara Brock Akil, it could quite possibly be the best original programming to ever air on BET.
American Horror Story: Coven Wednesday, January 8, 2014 (FX)
American Horror Story: Coven follows witches fighting for survival in modern day New Orleans. Starring Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, and featuring Angela Bassett as Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, the question is whether Gabourey Sidibe's character Queenie will return this season.
Sasheer Zamata’s SNL Debut: January 18, 2014 (NBC)
Saturday Night Live and the African American community have had a love-hate relationship with SNL for decades. The show hasn't seen allegiance from black viewers since Eddie Murphy was a regular player on its cast. Normally that relationship centers on how the quality of the show’s writing and black cast members have fluctuated up and down over the years. Although the funny has returned over the past five seasons, the show’s lack of African American female cast members was a pressing concern to many in the community. With the new addition of comedienne Sasheer Zamata, the show will feature its first black female member since 2007. This new leap of life, deserves a few of our Saturdays to support and see how successful SNL’s writers will be at integrating her onto the show. Pun intended.
The Following, January 19, 2014 (FOX)
Taking place a year after the first season wrapped, season two of The Following finds FBI Agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) in New York City, working as a criminology professor. Where’s his girl, Claire? Did she die last season after being stabbed to pieces? Where’s Joe Carroll’s cult? We’re sure TV’s creepiest show will slowly pull us back in and reveal the twisted madness.
The Walking Dead, February 9, 2014 (AMC)
AMC’s cult classic science fiction series The Walking Dead is slated to return in February. Fans of the show recognize that the show has several African American cast members. Actress Danai Gurira is the most prominent among them, portraying a black women as beautiful, strong and taking no crap. Eight new episodes are slated to drop beginning in February.
Scandal, February 27, 2014 (ABC)
Scandal has been one of the most successful shows starring a black woman in the history of network television. Thanks to sista writer Shonda Rhimes, Actress Kerry Washington stars as Olivia Pope, maneuvering through secrets and innuendo in Washington D.C. The show has only been on break for a couple months, but people are already foaming at the mouth awaiting its return. Never fear noble gladiators. Wasting no time in making us wait, Scandal is slated to return to ABC on February 27.
The Game, March 2014 (BET)
The BET hit comedy series The Game is slated to premiere its seventh season in March 2014. This season Tasha, Malik, Chardonnay, Jason and the entire cast will be back and up to their shenanigans balancing love and football. The Game is currently the highest-rated original programming to ever air on Black Entertainment Television.
Game of Thrones, April 6, 2014 (HBO)
HBO’s Game of Thrones just might be one of the whitest shows on television, bar none. However, what the medieval-themed thriller lacks in diversity (That is, unless you count Khaleesi’s epic slave army) it makes up for with great special effects, fantastic set design and an out-of-this-world team of writers.
The Boondocks: TBA (Cartoon Network)
The hit Aaron McGruder animated social satire The Boondocks is slated to return to the Cartoon Network with new episodes for the first time in three years. Huey, Riley and Granddad will be back in full stride as they act out some of the most controversial issues of the day while clowning some of America’s favorite celebrities. We can’t wait. Time magazine named The Boondocks as sixth out of the 10 Most Controversial Cartoons of All Time. Initial reports had the show slated for a Jan. 4 return date. However, that scheduling has come and passed with no new episodes.