by Makeda Vaughn
I love watching Black web series. Don’t get me wrong: I love to watch primetime network television and Netflix shows with black leads, such as Taraji P. Henson and Viola Davis. But the freedom of online content allows talented black folks from all backgrounds to tell a wide variety of stories from the unique perspective of their lives. For the past two years, I have been hooked to my staple webisodes, and then recently discovered news shows. Not too long ago, For Harriet created lists featuring web series created by and starring black women and those focusing on LBGTQ black women’s stories. As there is always a new cropping of talent and stories popping up online, this list includes my personal favorites, some newly discovered shows, and classics that have released new seasons.
Please note that while many of these shows can be found on free platforms like YouTube, some of them require pay-per-view subscriptions. You do get to view an episode or two—or even an entire season—before having to purchase a recent episode. While some may have an issue with paying for an episode of a web series, we have to remember the lack of opportunities available to Black creatives in the media. These storytellers have to find ways of making their own way, and shouldn’t have to do so for free. If I’m willing to give Hulu, Netflix, and Comcast my money every month, I’m willing to support my community as well. I also appreciate that most black web series not only feature rising actors, writers, and directors, but music artists as well.
Get into these series by reading about them and watching their first episodes below!
1. The Unwritten RulesThis is my absolute favorite! If you work in corporate America, I can guarantee that you will be able to relate to the lead character Racey, who is just trying to survive working in corporate environment as a black woman. As simple as it may sound, the series does an excellent job of capturing what it’s like to maneuver through office politics while black. Over the holidays, the Season 3 finale was released. I wonder what’s next with Racey? The series was created by inkSpot Entertainment founder Kim Williams and stars Aasha Davis.
2. Everything I Did Wrong in my 20’sThis web series is another creation from Kim Williams and inkSpot Entertainment. It follows the journey of Stephanie (played by Tiffany Snow), a recently laid-off 35 year old as she finds her way to happiness. While she’s looking for work, she’s also looking for love too. I enjoy how the series flashes back to her 20s to contextualize how she is navigating through her present situation. Most 30-year-olds often reflect back to their 20s (sometimes without even knowing it), which makes the show especially relatable.
3. Becoming NiaCreated by Black&Sexy.TV, this new series launched this past December. Becoming Nia is a spin off of the popular web series That Guy, and it follows the life of Nia, a single mother, as she deals with all the good—and not so good—aspects of her journey. There are cameos of characters from other B&S shows, as an added treat. I love how REAL this series is. The very first episode got me hooked. There’s no glitz and glamour about what it’s like being a single mother. It honestly shows how she navigates surviving, raising her son, and dating. The acting is also on point, even from the little boy who plays Nia’s son. This is definitely a new favorite. The show stars Shawanna Davis and was created by Jeanine Daniels and Numa Perrier.
4. SexlessAlso created by Black&Sexy.TV, Sexless is another new series that follows the lives of four women—Anastasia, Farrah, Wendy, and Nolita—who are sexless. Two of the women have never had sex before, and the other two are have made a vow of celibacy. The first episode introduces the audience to all four characters at a “Galentine’s Day” get-together thrown by Anastasia. I love how the ladies are different from each other, but every one of them is relatable: the tomboy who’s always in the friend zone, the single one with no prospects, the “fast” one who needs to slow down, and the cool one who’s hooked on a guy. The show was created by Numa Perrier, Ester Weithers, and Leah Williams. It stars Leah Williams, Khalilah Joi, Lina Green, and Gabrielle Maiden.
5. Black BootsThis series takes place on a college campus and shares the stories of students as they take the journey of pledging a Greek organization. It debunks the stereotypical depiction of what people think takes place during the pledging process, as well as offering interesting stories about contemporary college life overall. I love not only the storytelling, but the editing, lighting, and production quality are also impressive. The show was created by Geno Brooks for Band of Artists Filmmaking Collective.
6. Money and ViolenceIf you enjoyed HBO’s The Wire, then you may want to check out Money and Violence. I was introduced to this series by recommendation from my favorite podcast. Many applaud the show for its realistic portrayal of life in the Brooklyn streets. The series is pretty popular—even Ebro from Hot97 makes a cameo, and the cast were recently interviewed and featured on Breakfast Club and Hot 97. The series is produced by Cloud9TV.
7. Brothers with No GameThis web series offers an inside look at four male friends in their mid-20s figuring out love, life, and work. The story takes place in London, which gives the show a different vibe from its American offerings. (I’m a sucker for familiar stories told from new perspectives.) The same creators will also launch a new series called “Housemates” this month.
8. A Day in the Life of DaddyFrom the creators of Brothers with No Game, this new series following the life of a single father living in London. When his ex drops of his daughter before heading off to Thailand with her new boyfriend, Kwame has to deal with being a full-time dad to young Tiffany. This show documents his attempts to improve his relationship with Tiffany. The first episode had me hooked, and I’m sure you will be too.
9. The Bizz PlanThis is another personal favorite! For those who need advice or motivation to tap into their inner entrepreneurial mojo, this series is for you. The show features interviews with successful people from diverse backgrounds—including bloggers, social media mavens, actors, producers, and so forth. They discuss everything from branding, to their goals, to staying focused and strategic. The Bizz Plan is produced by Issa Rae (who is profiled in an episode) and was created by Benoni. Watch the first episode, featuring fashion and lifestyle blogger Taye Hansberry.
10. Close FriendsThis show won the 2014 Award for Best Web Series at the American Black Film Festival. I appreciate that the creators and the show are based in South Florida, as that’s where I’m from. I recently just started the series, so I have three seasons to catch up on. The first episode focuses on Valerie and Nathan, two friends who hang out and report different interpretations of the night back to their homies. The show focuses on familiar Millennial themes of friendships, love, and dating, with some drama and a love triangle thrown into the mix. I enjoy the growth and progression in the storylines and production value with each season. The series was created by Ricky Jean Francois.
What Black web series haven’t you seen featured on For Harriet? Tell us about it in the comments, so we can include it in our next list!
Makeda Vaughn is a blogger and regular contributor to For Harriet. You can find her on her website SkinnyGotCurves.com. She can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.