There are a lot of amazing Black sitcoms and dramas on TV. Hits like BET’s Being Mary Jane, Netflix’s Dear White People, FX’s Atlanta, HBO’s Insecure, Starz’ Power, and OWN’s Queen Sugar are at the forefront of the Black renaissance that is taking root in the golden age of television. Aside from ABC’s Blackish, their new show The Mayor and Fox’s Empire, the majority of Black hit shows are all on either subscription services or cable.
There was a time when Network TV was home to shows like The Jeffersons, Good Times and Diff’rent Strokes. A generation later there was a boom of Black programming that gave us The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, A Different World, The Bernie Mac Show, Girlfriends Living Single, In Living Color, Family Matters, and numerous others. At some point, these shows had their run and were replaced with programming that catered to other demographics.
There is still a strong Black presence in programming on network TV in the form of celebrity leads. Kerry Washington spearheads Scandal and Viola Davis leads HTGAWM for ABC and Sterling K. Brown is a crucial part of This Is Us on NBC. However, FOX recently canceled the reboot 24 Legacy starring Corey Hawkins and aside from LL Cool J on NCIS Los Angeles, CBS has a little-to-no Black presence in current prime time. Shonda Rimes moved her Shondaland production studio from ABC to Netflix which is understandable because programming looks like more of the same for network TV. Is this a sign of the times or have the big 4 gotten over their taste for a variety of Black programming?
The CW has a Black Lightning superhero show ( to their DC universe) in the works but if it wasn’t for cable and over the top providers like Netflix, there would be little to nothing to look forward to for Black TV audiences.