Black storytelling matters

Black storytelling matters

DQ
By DQ
June 12, 2020

Ones to Watch

As Netflix launches a curated collection of programming dedicated to the Black Lives Matters movement, DQ highlights some of the featured series.

Netflix has launched a specially selected collection of programming under the Black Lives Matter banner. In a Tweet announcing the move, the streamer wrote: “When we say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ we also mean ‘Black storytelling matters.’

“With an understanding that our commitment to true, systemic change will take time, we’re starting by highlighting powerful and complex narratives about the Black experience.

“When you log on to Netflix today, you will see a carefully curated list of titles that only begin to tell the complex and layered stories about racial injustice and Blackness in America.”

It comes as anti-racism protests continue to take place around the world in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Here, DQ highlights some of the series featured in the list, which can be viewed in full here.

When They See Us
From: US
Starring: Asante Blackk, Caleel Harris, Ethan Herisse, Jharrel Jermone, Marquis Rodriguez, Justin Cunningham, Jovan Adept, Chris Chalk, Freddy Miyares, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Kylie Bunbury
Launched: 2019
A winner among this year’s prestigious Peabody Awards, this raw and hard-hitting miniseries from creator and director Ava Duvernay dramatises real events that took place in the spring of 1989, when five boys of colour were arrested, interrogated and coerced into confessing to the vicious attack of a woman in Central Park. After being convicted of various charges, they were awarded a settlement for wrongful conviction in 2014.
• See also: Oprah Winfrey Presents: When They See Us, in which the talkshow host interviews the cast and creative team behind the miniseries, as well as the real people involved in the story.

Dear White People
From: US
Starring: Logan Browning, Brandon P Bell, DeRon Horton, Antoinette Robertson, John Patrick Amedori, Ashley Blaine Featherson, Marque Richardson
Launched: 2017
Created by Justin Simien and based on his film of the same name, this comedy drama follows several black students as they navigate life at an Ivy League college where racial tensions bubble just below the surface.

Self Made
From: US
Starring: Octavia Spencer, Tiffany Haddish, Carmen Ejogo, Kevin Carroll, Blair Underwood
Launched: 2020
This miniseries chronicles the life of Madam CJ Walker, an African American washerwoman who rose from poverty to build a beauty empire and become the first female self-made millionaire.

Seven Seconds
From: US
Starring: Clare-Hope Ashitey, Regina King, Beau Knapp
Launched: 2018
Created and exec produced by showrunner Veena Sud, who developed the US version of Danish drama Forbrydelsen (The Killing), this series centres on the death of a 15-year-old African American boy in Jersey City and the search for the truth after a police cover-up.

She’s Gotta Have It
From: US
Starring: DeWanda Wise, Anthony Ramos, Lyriq Bent, Cleo Anthony, Chyna Layne, Margot Bingham
Launched: 2017
This comedy drama was created by film director Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, BlacKkKlansman) and based on his 1986 film of the same name. Lee also directed all 19 episodes of the series, which revolves around an artist who struggles to stay true to herself and her dreams while juggling three lovers.

Undercover
From: UK
Starring: Sophie Okonedo, Adrian Lester, Dennis Haysbert
Launched: 2016
Originally commissioned by the BBC, this six-part drama sees Okonedo play a London lawyer who tries to stop an innocent man’s execution in the US, unaware her husband is hiding a 20-year-old secret with links to the case.

Pose
From: US
Starring: MJ Rodriguez, Billy Porter, Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore, Angel Bismark Curiel, Hailie Sahar, Angelica Ross
Launched: 2018
This FX series from creators Steven Canals, Brad Fulchuck and Ryan Murphy is set in 1987 New York. It looks at the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society: the rise of the luxury, Trump-era universe, the downtown social and literary scene and ball culture. At its launch, the series assembled the largest ever cast of transgender actors in series-regular roles.

Orange is the New Black
From: US
Starring: Taylor Schilling, Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew, Danielle Brooks, SSascha Polanco, Selenis Leyva, Nick Sandow, Yael Stone, Taryn Manning, Jackie Cruz, Adrienne C Moore, Laura Prepon
Launched: 2013
Concluding last year after seven seasons, this ensemble drama initially followed privileged New Yorker Piper Chapman (Schilling) after she was sent to a women’s prison. But over the course of the series, each episode’s flashbacks would reveal the backstory or relevant character traits of numerous inmates and guards. Storylines include a prison protest and subsequent riot following the death of black inmate Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley), as well as others highlighting corruption, privatisation of the prison system, overcrowding, guard brutality, racial discrimination and prisoner safety.

Luke Cage
From: US
Starring: Mike Colter, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Alfre Woodard, Justin Swain, Sean Ringgold
Launched: 2016
Arguably the standout entry from Netflix’s original Marvel series, the comic book drama follows the titular ex-con with superhuman strength and unbreakable skin as he fights to clear his name and save his neighbourhood from crime and corruption.

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