Becoming was produced by Obamas’ own production company, Higher Ground. It follows Michelle Obama on her book tour, and although she remains as cool and charismatic as ever, it feels like she’s still being cautious – understandably after a decade of being under the constant eye of the press with the baying opposition waiting for her to make a fall. It’s informative and interesting: she talks about marriage counseling, postnatal depression, and sibling favouritism. There are emotional moments when she meets fans – and it becomes clear that she is a strong source of inspiration and that the Obamas still brings hope to those who thought there was none. But Michelle Obama never made a misstep as Flotus then and she doesn’t do that here. There she is calmly and safely on the higher ground.
A shocking drama inspired by the Windrush scandal. After 50 years in the UK, Anthony Bryan is wrongfully detained by the Home Office and threatened with deportation.
This was written by Stephen S. Thompson who ably demonstrates why we need more black writers to tell our stories. This is an emotive story that looks and feels authentic. It’s relatable – whether you have direct connections to the story or not. Personally, it was a reminder of the time that my mother went back to Nigeria for a couple of years after 25 years of living in the UK, and when she came back she was refused entry – even though her four children were still here. We had to go to court to get her back – and thankfully, the process was not as long drawn out and disturbing as this one thanks to a sympathetic judge who recognised the ridiculousness of the system. But the disquiet, malaise, and sensation of being unwanted in the place that you call home – is something that stays with you, and that is what this series brilliantly portrays.
24 11 and 12-year-olds in the first year of secondary school are tested for unconscious racial bias, split up into ‘affinity groups’ based on how they identify themselves and encouraged to have frank conversations about race and identity. A simple and fascinating social experiment to uncover and eradicate hidden racial biases, it’s often surprising and sometimes emotional. Let’s hope that these types of experiments will move from classroom to boardroom.
If you haven’t watched this it should be top of your list, and if anyone is asking you to ‘help educate them’ – point them to this film. The 13th Amendment states that Slavery should be abolished – except for prison – and this amazing documentary by Ava DuVernay plausibly explains how this became a lucrative loophole – a means to continue slavery by inventing and falsifying crimes, extending sentences, and stacking the system against Black Men to ensure that incarceration and privatised prisons provide cheap labour for many major businesses.
Michaela Coel is this year’s Phoebe Waller Bridge, anything she does is likely to get greenlit. Coel writes, directs, and stars in I May Destroy You. I really wasn’t sure what I thought after the first 2 episodes, the main character seemed uneven and the plot – confusing. 3 or 4 episodes later, I still felt it was a little chaotic and inconsistent and some scenes seem designed more to shock than drive the story. I spent quite a lot of time trying to guess the underlying reason for most of the characters’ motivation. Eventually, I conceded that this is part of the conceit, that we are being invited to judge, or accept, the main character or characters and that our reaction to them is part of the plot. This is important within the framework of the series; the core subject matter, for all its humour and casual hedonism, is rape and consent, and you can sense that part of the confusion was the fact that this is based on Coel’s personal experience and that part of the writing process and the occasional narrative meandering might, therefore, be exploratory or therapeutic.
I’d say fans of Coel’s Chewing Gum will love it, as it seems, stylistically, a progression from this, but those who arrive here via the excellent drama Black Earth Rising may be baffled and, occasionally, horrified.
Marsha P. Johnson was a transgender activist who is described in this film as the Rosa Parks of trans. Her body was found in the Hudson River in 1992, and while the police labeled her death a suicide, many of her friends suspected she was murdered. As Trans rights for protection are hotly debated this month’s tale of a gentle and extremely likable character is a reminder that Marsha’s legacy lives on today in organisations such as the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which says it “protects and defends the human rights of BLACK transgender people.”
In February 2020, the Mayor of New York renamed the East River State Park in Brooklyn, The Marsha P. Johnson State Park and announced there will be a statue created in her honour, to be unveiled in 2021.
This is Netflix’s first Original African series. It’s a pacey, stylish, action-filled spy series. It’s a South African production – but shot all through the continent. Sono is like a black female Bond and Jackie Chan, and there are many Tarantino twists about this. If anything it’s more raw and stylish than Bond, and her African hairstyles – well I’d be surprised if there is not a blog dedicated entirely to them. Fight scenes that are rarely seen in a female led series, plenty of humour and Pearl Thusi is pretty amazing. Some of the dialogue seemed a little bit Americanised.
Teen shows like BBC’s Normal People have exceeded expectations.
Blood and Water is a modern South African teen drama that combines high school and mystery. It’s the first time I can remember seeing a series that features normal African students, and it’s refreshing, as the characters and storylines are less predictable. The show follows a South African high school student whose sister was kidnapped at birth, as she comes to believe that she may have solved the mystery of her disappearance.
We binged watched this show, somehow you just have to, and my teen daughters are patiently waiting for the next series.
Robbie Lyle is Arsenal Superfan. He is also a YouTuber. Football is his greatest passion as well his job. But as a black supporter Robbie has witnessed racism and experienced it himself. Taking your son or daughter to a game is a rite of passage and bonding experience for most football fans but racism dampens the experience. Robbie meets with other black fans – all who had experienced overt racism at a game to one extreme or another. Robbie remains optimistic and resilient (and loyal to his team) in this gentle slice of life that underlines how racism can affect everyday pleasures that most take for granted.
Joe Exotic et al are old news. If you are looking for an interesting AND informative show you absolutely MUST watch this series hosted in an entirely unfiltered (or namely, triggering) manner by Run The Jewels’ rapper, Killer Mike (Twitter description: I like My Woman, My Kids, Weed, Polo and Politics. I am a Pan Africanist Gangster Rapper, Civic Leader & Activist). I highly recommend starting with “Living Black” – in which Killer Mike decides that he is going to spend 3 days only spending money whithin the Black Community: that means he has to find food, drink, accommodation, transport, weed, clubs (a girl at the black-owned strip club is not black – so she doesn’t get his dollars) and even ends up conducting an interview via his white band member. It’s actually the most entertaining way to highlight this issue – that black Americans used to invest in their own economy and now do not. Killer Mike is an original thinker and in this series they’ve let him run free with the wildest of theories – could using porn artists help people learn basic DIY skills? I think you’ll be very surprised to find the answer.