Queen Sugar

On Feb. 3, a familiar pattern repeated itself: the Golden Globe nominations were announced and there was public outcry over the snubs of critically acclaimed Black TV and films, as well as many lauded performances by Black actors. 

These snubs include Uzo Aduba’s Emmy-winning performance as the first Black female congresswoman Shirley Chisholm in the FX limited series “Mrs. America” and Michaela Coel’s celebrated TV series “I May Destroy You,” which she also co-directed, produced and wrote. 

In the film category, the Globes were criticized for leaving out acclaimed Black-led films like “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” from the Best Motion Picture - Drama category. 

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization that runs the Golden Globes, has been roundly criticized for its decision to hand out nominations to unserious productions like Netflix’s escapist, cliché-riddled “Emily in Paris” and Sia’s controversial film “Music” which has been called “unwatchable and offensive” by critics for its portrayal of autism. 

Twitter users took it upon themselves to lambast the nominations, with one user tweeting, “There is at least two impostors in every category for the golden globes” and another calling for the Globes, which are set to take place on Feb. 28, to be removed from Black History Month. 

To make up for the various oversights of award season’s first major event and to celebrate Black History Month, here are 8 TV shows available for streaming that are written by and star Black artists.

“I May Destroy You” (HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon)

No doubt the greatest upset of the Golden Globe snubs, British drama series “I May Destroy You” follows the turbulent story of a millennial novelist who tries to put the pieces of her life back together after she is raped during a night out in London. 

Michaela Coel, who also serves as co-director and writer on the series, stars as Annabella Essiedu, with fellow Black British actors Weruche Opia and Paapa Essiedu playing in supporting roles. The series was widely praised for its game-changing portrayal of sexual assualt and consent, and critics gave it a 98% score on the rating website Rotten Tomatoes. 

HBO announced on Feb. 15 that the series would not return for a second season, as Coel is set to pursue other projects. 

“Insecure” (HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon)

Another big upset of the Golden Globe nominations was the complete lack of acknowledgement for “Insecure,” a fan favorite comedy series on HBO that explores the experiences of two Black female friends living in Los Angeles. 

Co-created by and starting Issa Rae, who grew to fame with her YouTube series “Awkward Black Girl,” the series dismantles stereotypes of Black women as strong and confident by following the often uncomfortable and awkward exploits of Issa (played by Rae) and her best friend Molly (played by Yvonne Orji), who have been friends since they both attended Stanford University.

There was particular backlash from fans over the HFPA’s choice to nominate “Emily in Paris” and its star Lilly Collins over Issa Rae and “Insecure.” Twitter users saw this choice as particularly out of touch, with one angered user tweeting, “Wait — so the hollywood foreign press really looked at their ballots and picked Emily in Paris over Insecure. And Lily Collins over Issa Rae. They really did that.”

“Queen Sugar” (Hulu, Amazon)

Created and written by Ava DuVernay, arguably the most famous Black female director and screenwriter in the country, “Queen Sugar” tells the story of three siblings living in rural Louisiana who must decide what to do with their father’s vast sugarcane farm after his sudden death. 

The series, based on writer Natalie Baszile’s 2014 novel of the same name, has won two NCAAP Image Awards and features themes of racial profiling and a broken criminal justice system before the backdrop of a state that is still dealing with the very present effects of slavery. The series airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and was renewed for its sixth season last month.

“The Chi” (Showtime, Hulu)

From writer and producer Lena Waithe, who won an Emmy for her work on the series “Master of None,” comes “The Chi” (pronounced “THE-SHY”), which tells the story of a network of characters navigating life on the South Side of Chicago. 

The show was received favorably by critics, who called it “an optimistic companion to ‘The Wire’” for its affectionate depiction of the complexities of life in one of America’s largest Black cultural centers. The show was renewed for a fourth season in Sept. 2020.

“Lovecraft Country” (HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon)

Based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Matt Ruff, “Lovecraft Country” follows Atticus Freeman (played by Jonathan Majors) and his friend Leticia Lewis (played by Jurnee Smollett) as they go on a road trip through Jim Crow America in the 1950s in search of Atticus’s father. Along the way, the pair encounter the horrors of racism, as well as many monsters that seem to have come straight from the strange horror novels of H. P. Lovecraft. 

Written and developed by Misha Green, with production from Jordan Peele (“Get Out”) and J.J. Abrams (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), the show has been praised for its fantastical portrait of a nation segregated along racist lines. 

While “Lovecraft Country” was including in the Globes’s drama series category, it received no nominations for the acclaimed performances of Majors and Smollett.

“Atlanta” (Hulu, Amazon)

Actor and musician Donald Glover’s ambitious FX comedy series “Atlanta” shines a spotlight on the rap scene of the South’s main Black cultural destination. Glover, who writes much of the show, stars as music manager Earnest “Earn” Marks alongside actor Brian Tyree Henry, who plays rapper Paper Boi. 

The two try to navigate Atlanta’s competitive rap scene through an innovative mixture of Glover’s eccentric comedy and nuanced commentary on contemporary racial issues.

Though the series won the Golden Globe for best comedy series and best actor in a comedy series for its first season back in 2017, as well as several Emmys, it was not up for nomination this year, since its third season was delayed.

“All American” (CW, Netflix, Hulu)

One of the most buzzworthy shows to stream on Netflix in the past year, the CW’s “All American” is a sports drama created by April Blair (“Lemonade Mouth”) and starring Daniel Ezra and Taye Diggs.

The show was inspired by the life of football player Spencer Paysinger (played by Ezra), and it follows Paysinger as he is recruited to play football for Beverly Hills High in Los Angeles. It deals heavily with themes of race and class, as Paysinger is plucked from his Black neighborhood of Crenshaw and put into the wealthy and predominantly white environment of Beverly Hills. 

The series has received a 96% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes for its ambitious portrayal of classroom and family drama amidst the rigors of elite high school football programs. Season three premiered last month and the show has been renewed for its fourth season.

“Dear White People” (Netflix, Amazon)

Based on the 2014 film of the same name, Netflix’s “Dear White People,” directed and written by a range of celebrated Black artists, follows a group of Black students at the fictional Ivy League institution Winchester University. 

The series dissects the complex relationship between students at prestigious universities, which are often sold as having more diverse and progressive culture than they actually do. Each episode focuses on a different student, highlighting the everyday experiences of Black individuals as they engage in extra-curriculars and activism as well as personal relationships. 

The final 10 episode season of “Dear White People” is set to premiere later this year.

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