From 1968 to 1973, the first all-Black public-television variety show SOUL!, guided by sharp gay producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics. This documentary about Haizlip and his show includes clips of live performances from The Last Poets, Al Green, Earth Wind and Fire, literary figures like Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin, politics, dance and more. The series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. On HBO. [more inside]
In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys. [more inside]
The Porter: Rotten Tomatoes Season 1, Ep 1
Train porters Junior Massey and Zeke Garret take action after a tragedy on the job. [more inside]
Small Axe: Mangrove Season 1, Ep 1
Mangrove is the first episode in this anthology series of 5 episodes created and directed by artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen, each standalone, set in England, about Black British people. Mangrove is based on the true story of Frank Crichlow (Shaun Parkes), who opened Carribean restaurant Mangrove in Notting Hill in 1968. [more inside]
Lovecraft Country: Whitey's On The Moon Books Included Season 1, Ep 2
The lodge of the Sons of Adam fills with guests, including Letitia, George and an increasingly suspicious Atticus, on the night before a major ritual. Our heroes are tormented by memories and plan their rescue of Atticus' missing father. This thread includes discussion of Matt Ruff's original book of 8 linked short stories.
Lovecraft Country: Sundown Books Included Season 1, Ep 1
HBO's new horror/period piece series about black lives in a 1950s where H.P. Lovecraft's shoggoths are real, including discussion of Matt Ruff's original collection of 8 linked short stories.
Cherish the Day: Catharsis Season 1, Ep 8
Series Finale: Gently hosts a birthday party for Miss Luma and most of the gang gathers. A surprise visitor from the past turns up.
Cherish the Day: Synopsis Season 1, Ep 7
Gently and Evan shop for counselors and recap their relationship thus far.
Cherish the Day: Nemesis Season 1, Ep 6
Conflict between Evan's focus on work and a newly-buttoned-down Gently boils over at a dinner.
Cherish the Day: Analysis Season 1, Ep 5
Differing expectations and backgrounds clash, resolve and clash again as Gently, Evan and their families plan a big day. The two dads meet for the first time and find they have much in common, and Evan's mother tries her best. Bonus: extended interview with Ava DuVernay in which she discusses the love story's origins in her documentary 13th, the actors choosing not to use an intimacy coordinator for the sex scenes, and why she "really wanted to embrace a darker-skinned sister" for the romantic female lead role.
Cherish the Day: Basis Season 1, Ep 4
Evan has a stressful breakfast with Gently's uncles. Miss Luma is in on a scheme. Evan takes Gently for a hike and fancy dinner, only to find the two of them have different conceptions of time. Evan ignores the advice of a friend. Ava DuVernay's one-day-per-episode look at love between two black professionals in Los Angeles continues. Bonus video: DuVernay talks about how she achieved gender parity in the first season by making sure over 50% of the show's entire crew (not just writers and directors) are women.
Cherish the Day: Oasis Season 1, Ep 3
Three months into their renewed relationship, Evan brings Gently to meet his parents at their 40th anniversary party. Gently’s own mother suddenly shows up in town as well, after years of absence.
Cherish the Day: Synthesis Season 1, Ep 2
One year after their first encounter, Gently and Evan meet again at an art gallery and spend the day together, with Evan running into the Friend Test from Gently’s BFF. Bonus bowling alley and emergency room visits.
Cherish the Day: Genesis Season 1, Ep 1
Ava DuVernay's new series tracks the relationship between Gently (Xosha Roquemore) and Evan (Alano Miller), two young African-Americans in south Los Angeles. Each of the 8 episodes takes place during one day, across what the series will cover as five years. In the premiere the two meet at the library and spend the day getting to know each other via cheesecake and a refrigerator. Cicely Tyson has a supporting role as a sharp, sly aging film star. Airing, like DuVernay's Queen Sugar, on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Black: Black (Full Season) Season 1, Ep 0
A man possessed by death. A woman who can see death. The earthly and the afterworld collide dangerously. (Netflix, OCN Korea) [more inside]
Jamaican author Marlon James’ epic fantasy novel, set in an imaginary land that draws from African placenames, languages, and mythos, is his followup to 2014’s Man Booker prizewinning “A Brief History of Seven Killings” and is intended as the first work in a trilogy. [more inside]
“Stewarding our own land, growing our own food, educating our own youth, participating in our own healthcare and justice systems,” Penniman writes, “this is the source of real power and dignity.” [more inside]
A look at the history of black horror films and the role of African Americans in the film genre from the very beginning. Veterans and scholars of Black horror films discuss how the genre has evolved, and often their place in that evolution.
Jenna and Wesley are back for Season 3! This week, they look at the movie “Proud Mary” as a jumping-off point for the cultural moment that black women are having. The discussion includes a brief history of black women in movies and television, from Hattie McDaniel to Dorothy Dandridge to Whoopi Goldberg to Halle Berry. Then Wesley and Jenna consider what all this means for Oprah’s theoretical presidential run. [more inside]
Chewing Gum: Season 1 Season 1, Ep 0
This UK-based show is written by and stars Michaela Coel, who was born in Tower Hamlets, London, to Ghanaian parents. The show is set in Tower Hamlets, and Michaela plays Tracey, a 24-year old Christian virgin shop assistant who lives with her mother and sister.
The Carmichael Show: Protest Season 1, Ep 2
Jerrod is excited about celebrating his birthday and upset when his girlfriend, Maxine, wants to go a Black Lives Matter protest instead; the rest of the family pick sides. [more inside]
The Carmichael Show: Pilot Season 1, Ep 1
When Maxine moves in with her boyfriend, Jerrod, she wants to tell his parents right away and Jerrod prefers never telling them.
Arrow: This is Your Sword Season 3, Ep 22
Malcolm convinces Team Arrow to return to Nanda Parbat to stop a Ra's fast-tracked plan to destroy Starling City. Oliver winks at the camera and ruins most of the tension. There are some amazing fights. Roy and Thea have some moments. [more inside]
British black comedy at its finest. Series 1 has already aired and is available on DVD and amazon. Series 2 is currently airing. It's an anthology series so you if you don't like one episode, try the next one. Any interest in discussing this? [more inside]
Podcast: NPR: Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast: Selma and the Use of Dramatic License in Historical Dramas
This week on Pop Culture Happy Hour, NPR Monkey See's Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon are joined by NPR Code Switch's Gene Demby to discuss the Civil Rights Era film Selma. They'll discuss the direction by Ava DuVernay, the Oprah of it all, and how well it brings Martin Luther King, Jr. to life. Then they'll discuss other historical dramas and the advantages and limitations of dramatic license. All that plus What's Making Us Happy this week.