Black Entertainment to Check Out

Black History Month is one of my favorite months of the entire year to catch up on black entertainment. Here’s what I watched.

As a black teen in America, I don’t often see representation in the media. Black women in the media are often portrayed as an “angry black woman” or “ratchet” while black men are seen as “hood” or always getting trouble. We often have our struggles exploited just for someone else’s enjoyment, and we never get to live as the main character unless trauma and pain are involved.

February feels like the one time of the year when we truly get to see that black people can be successful and fit outside the stereotypes that society has put on us for years.

We can be cool, we can be successful, and we can be happy.

As Black History Month comes to an end, here’s a list of TV shows and movies you should check out that tell stories of black people created by black people.

Abbott Elementary (2021-)

Abbott Elementary is a new show on ABC created by Quinta Brunson who plays Janine Teagues, a young teacher at a public elementary school in Philadelphia.

This show is amazing for a multitude of reasons. First off, there is no depressing plotline that includes a struggling family, living in a tough neighborhood, or serious racial issues. It shows black people as normal people doing normal things. We see Janine be a little goofy and even have a cute little love subplot.

Rating: TV-PG

The Boondocks (2005-2014)

This show is an absolute gem.

With four seasons, this animated show from 2005 is about two boys, Huey and Riley, who live with their grandad. This show includes some racial issues, but it’s not in the way you’d stereotypically expect. They take otherwise serious situations, blow them out of proportion and make them seen as social commentary.

What stands out most about this show however is that it shows the black culture in the blackest ways possible.

Rating: TV-MA

Any Movie by Jordan Peele or Spike Lee

BlacKkKlansman, She’s Gotta Have it, Love & Basketball, Get Out, and Us are just a few amazing movies made by these two men. All these movies include predominantly black casts with big names such as Daniel Kaluuya, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o, and Elizabeth Moss.

Jordan Peele is great at making horror movies that include black people and other people of color without making the entire plot surrounding the fact that they are black. Some movies like Get Out do focus more on race than others but, in a good way.

Spike Lee is like the go-to man for amazing black films. She’s Gotta Have It and Love & Basketball are what my brother would consider “staples of black culture,” so you should most definitely check them out. 

Sorry To Bother You (2018)

Bizarre is the only appropriate word to describe this film.

This movie is honestly one of the most unique movies out there. Sorry to Bother You is a dark comedy that was written and directed by Boots Riley. If you’re interested in social commentaries or satirical movies that take a weird turn, definitely check out this movie.

It’s also a more indie movie so if you like niche movies, you’ll love Sorry to Bother You

Rating: R

Insecure (2017-2022)

Friends, New Girl, Lady Bird, and Booksmart are all ensemble shows and movies with a “quirky white girl” trope. But there’s barely anything out there that involves the “quirky black girl.”

The quirky black trope focuses on the black girl experience and is created by black girls, for black girls. It takes awkward situations like being seen as a “white black kid” or being the only black person in the room. These comedies shine a light on it, and Insecure by Issa Rae is an excellent example.

The main character, Issa Dee diverts from the classic “angry black girl” trope as we see her go through her daily life and experience problems just like everyone else.

Rating: TV-MA

That’s So Raven (2003-2007)

Now before you say …but Madeleine that’s a kids’ show… hear me out. Yes, it is a kids’ show, but it is a black kids’ show. There are not many kids’ shows that are about black families. Also, you may have noticed that Raven possesses supernatural powers and uses them on herself. Oftentimes, if a black person has magic they’re used as a side character to help another person and move the plot along. This is known as the “magical negro” trope.

This show is also just a classic so you definitely should check it out if you haven’t already.

Rating: TV-G

Honorable Mentions: Moonlight (2016), Moesha (1996-2001), Lovebirds (2020), and Everybody Hates Chris (2005-2009).

We celebrate black stories and achievements in February but it’s important to remember that black people exist outside of these 28 days. It never hurts to support your local black business, or a black production no matter what time of the year it is.