2020 was one of the biggest years yet for streaming as we all sat inside during quarantine, with Forbes reporting an estimated 70% increase in Internet use and at least 12% more streaming in preliminary studies. 2020 also brought movements like Black Lives Matter to the forefront, as issues like police brutality, Black people’s access to affordable healthcare, and Black representation in film and TV became more prevalent than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic forced most TV and film sets to go on hiatus for safety reasons.
Despite the odds, TV creatives of color have been hard at work conceptualizing shows that spotlight Black stories and voices, as well as other out-of-the-box, thrilling projects. Here’s a roundup of some of the best and most anticipated new shows directed and/or produced by people of color coming soon.
Though season 1 of this television show dropped in late 2020, the splash it’s created on social media gives it a place of honor on this list. Bridgerton is produced by Shonda Rhimes, the genius woman behind long-running hit shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. Basically Pride and Prejudice meets Gossip Girl, we are brought into the Regency era world of London’s elite, where scandal, secrets, and seduction lurk around every corner. Lauded for the color-blind casting and intriguing, heartfelt storylines, Bridgerton quickly became the most-watched series Netflix has ever dropped. Already binged your way through the series? Never fear – Season 2 filming starts later this Spring!
Set in 1993, Clarice will delve into the personal life of FBI Agent Clarice Starling one year after her encounter with Hannibal Lecter, as she returns to the field. Jenny Lumet, most often recognized for her screenplay of 2008 film Rachel Gets Married and co-executive producer of CBS series Star Trek: Discovery, is producing this Silence of the Lambs sequel starring Rebecca Breeds as Clarice, coming February 11 to CBS and CBS All-Access.
This 8 episode biopic series, the third installment of National Geographic’s Genius anthology series, is being dubbed as the first definitive and authorized cinematic walk through The Queen of Soul’s life. Genius: Aretha stars Grammy, Emmy, and Tony-award winning actress Cynthia Erivo, includes performances by Courtney B. Vance and Patrice Covington, and is executive produced by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. Though the series’ filming schedule was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nat Geo has confirmed that we’ll be seeing it this March.
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) heads up this adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead. This miniseries imagines an alternate history where The Underground Railroad in the antebellum south is an actual, physical railroad that carries enslaved people to the freedom of the north. Jenkins and Amazon have not announced a firm release date, but we expect to see it coming sometime soon in 2021. Photo: Amazon Prime
Looking for a diverse, fun, educational show for you preschooler or kindergartener? Look no further than Reba to the Rescue! Created and voiced by Cicely Mitchell, Reba and her friends explore, play, and learn through real life scenarios. Adults may even be charmed into watching along by the original jazz selections composed and sung by six time Grammy award winning jazz artist Christian McBride!
Showrunner Misha Green and executive producer Jordan Peele have truly outdone themselves with this horror drama series, Lovecraft Country. Set in the segregated Jim Crow era of the 1950s, a young black man and his family search for his lost father, and in the process find themselves in the town where horror author H. P. Lovecraft based many of his stories. What follows is a twisting, sci-fi adventure that both entertains and horrifies.
Inspired by true events, The Porter (a working title) is an upcoming show from Arnold Pinnock and Bruce Ramsay, partially based off of the book “They Call Me George: The Untold Story of the Black Train Porters” by Cecil Foster. While there haven’t been many details shared about production coming sometime in 2021 or 2022, we do know that the show is set in the 1920s and revolves around railway workers in Canada and the US who join together to create the first Black Union and spark a civil right’s movement. It’s a story of courage, Black excellence, and independence, following four individuals as they maneuver through the fight for liberty.
Mama K’s Team 4 is an exciting new children’s show coming to Netflix soon! Four body-diverse Zambian teenagers are recruited by a retired secret agent to become superheroes in a futuristic Lusaka, Zambia. Brought to us by Malenga Mulendema, this family-friendly TV show is bound to delight the whole family.
Looking for something great to listen to? Read our roundup of best podcasts for 2021.