How "Insecure" And "Chewing Gum" Changed Black Female Television

How "Insecure" And "Chewing Gum" Changed Black Female Television

Black Television Is LIT, especially black female-led television.
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Black television has come a long way; shows like “Atlanta,” "How To Get Away With Murder," “Orange Is The New Black,” and “Black-ish” are staples for black television now. Most of these shows are good in their respectful right, but even “Orange Is The New Black” has supporting black characters.

“Black-ish,” on the other hand, is a black centered show; so, of course, it would have black characters. Last but not least, "Atlanta" is a black centered television show and great at that, but it is not female-led. While I love Donald Glover and everything he does, we needed more female-led black television.

This is coming from the 90s and 00s – the staples we had were “Martin,” “The Jamie Foxx Show,” "Living Single," "Moesha," "The Parkers," “The Steve Harvey Show,” “A Different World,” “Fresh Prince Of Bel Air,” and the list goes on. We had staples for black television that are hard to surpass in any way. There are two shows on the radar at the moment that are tackling what it means to be an awkward, insecure, sex-driven black female in this world while adding a little comedy along the way.

"Insecure" is a show on HBO -- you may have heard of it, or it is probably not even close to being on your radar; however, it is a show and a force to be reckoned with. “Insecure” is a black female-led television show that stars Issa Rae as Issa, Jay Ellis as Lawrence, and Yvonne Orji as Molly. What “Insecure” does is show us the awkward, insecure lifestyle of a black girl, something we can all relate to in some way.

It shows us (black viewers) the struggles of being a black woman while doing so, we are developing a relationship with the life and situations of Molly and Issa. The soundtrack and style are prominent in the show, and they often guide light to established artists of color. The show is doing so much for black television right now.

Although, “Insecure” is a staple of black television, another show that should be on your radar is “Chewing Gum.” “Chewing Gum” is a British show set in London, and it is utterly hilarious. One of the things “Chewing “Gum” does right is provide that comedic relief in every aspect of the show.

The main star of the show, Michaela Coel who plays Tracey is a delight in every aspect. She reminds me of Issa in many ways, just younger and slightly more religious. What I love about both leading ladies is how they represent this black female-led characters, not only in the show but outside of it as well. These shows are what is making black television lit. And, by lit, I mean, some of the best television we have seen since “Martin” and “A Different World.”

Why "Insecure?"

“Insecure” provides that black love on television that we know and love. It shows black girls, loving black men, and it is beautiful. More importantly, we see an awkward, not so confident, black girl on screen.

We are not getting that cliché, “big butt, confident” stereotypical black girl. We have someone that is showing us that it is okay to be uncomfortable and awkward, but you just got to deal with it and be who you are. Even more importantly than that, “Insecure” is showing us hard hitting topics in between the lines.

“Insecure” touches on cheating, honesty, awkwardness (in all situations), and learning that you just got to hella go with the flow. Issa, the main character, is someone that thinks things are going to go so right, all the time, but she could not be far from wrong. Often, they go the complete opposite, and she ends up creating a bigger mess than she wanted to. Throughout season one’s seven episodes, she turns a mess into a complete tornado.

The comedic relief is what keeps you from feeling so awkward about all the situations that happen to Issa and Molly. Awkward situations that include being a black female in a white driven world. Molly is constantly in a battle with herself and her job, where predominantly white people work.

She is often battling with how she acts and putting on a “persona” so she does not look “too ghetto.” While, on the other hand, Issa is battling with her blackness while working for a school that has predominately white people working with her. They are awkward and, more often than not, say some awkward, weird things to Issa on a daily basis.

Things you would have to sit and think about if they are borderline offensive and racist or not. The battle of being a black female in the middle of a white driven world is what it awkward too. The show is centered perfectly around what it means to be a black woman. It is a constant battle with awkwardness in all situations, it just so happens Issa is terrible at pretending the awkward does not exist. Some are better at it than others. We all have a little Issa in us.

Throughout the first season, these seven episodes show Issa cheating her on faithful (so we think) boyfriend who is temporarily unemployed. It is her battle trying to figure out if she wants to stick it out with her long-term boyfriend she lives with or not.

That gets her in trouble, in more ways than one. In the first season of “Insecure” Issa treats Molly poor, that is not to say Molly was not treating Issa poorly either, but they had their fair share. This results in an awkward turn of events for their friendship.

“Insecure” is doing absolutely everything correct. It is showing a new look on black television. This is a woke black television show, but it is charismatic; and, season two does nothing but keep proving that it will stay charismatic.

Issa provides perfect dynamic for that black female awkward lead but coming from her YouTube series “Awkward Black Girl” that was expected. She, of course, would be the perfect girl for the job. So, I asked at the beginning of this, “Why “Insecure?”” Well, why not?

Why "Chewing Gum?"

While “Insecure” is providing us with that perfect black-on-black love dynamic, I am a sucker for a damn good interracial relationship dynamic. With the main character, Tracey in “Chewing Gum,” we get just that. Tracey is dating Connor, well was dating Connor…it is complicated. Her mother and sister are extremely religious, and this is based strictly on her real life as well as she has stated in interviews.

While her mom and sister are extremely religious that leaves Tracey wanting more, and questions like, “What is sex like?” Since she never had it, never made-out with anyone, never even touch a guy – she battles with her yearn for sexual advantages.

Her first boyfriend and long-term relationship at the start of season one is a bust. However, she does not know that because love blinds her. In reality, is a homosexual – we, as watchers, know this right off the bat.

This dynamic continues and finishes off season one of the show – somewhere in the middle she meets Connor, and they have a cute, but short-lasting relationship. You will laugh entirely too much watching this show, Coel plays an enjoyable part in being that over-the-top eccentric black girl. There is even a moment in season two, episode two titled, "Replacement" where she is dating a white man named Ashley; and, he is unaware, but he is fetishizing her..sort of.

Ashley thinks it is entirely rational, and this is the way he is, but, as watchers, we can see it from a mile away. That leads Tracey to put on an incredible African costume and chanting for this guy; which, is an utterly hilarious scene.

There is even a point in the episode where Ashley asks, "Where are you from?" Tracey thinking he is asking where she resides or did reside says, "London." The guy proceeds to ask again, "No, where are from?" This leads to Tracey saying the hospital she was born at, without realizing the guy is hinting for her to say, Africa or another place that indicates she is "black-black."

A few moments later he makes a comment about her boobs saying, "Your tits are so gorgeous. They are so black." What makes this scene entirely too funny is the fact that Ashley has children by another black woman. Instead, she is more on the "conservative side" appearing as she works as a lawyer of some sort. His line "I have never been with a black girl before" is not the first time it has been used as his previous significant other indicates.

The scene following this is one of my favorites. The entire time Ashley was not actually "fetishizing" her. I mean, he was, but in a weird way. He is just a white guy who likes the African-American culture. It is entirely way too funny how it is played out, and it is one of my favorite episodes to date.

Throughout the show, you will soon realize you are addicted to the life of the main character. From her being kicked out of her mom’s house from her escapades to living with her best friend, Candice and her boyfriend, to residing in a homeless shelter with Connor, it is a full-blown mess. However, what is a mess without some laughs? That is exactly how I would describe “Chewing Gum.” A wonderful black female-led, taking television by storm.

These two shows, in particular, are written by these wonderful black main characters. Similar to “Insecure,” Coel’s mother makes all of the outfits in the show “Chewing Gum.” In the same light that “Insecure” is giving black artists a chance, Coel is showing off her mom’s fantastic clothing just the same. These black females are using their platform to bring light to black art. That is purely enjoyable.

What Does This Mean For Black Girls?

This means a whole lot more than just “good television.” This means we can finally, relate to a character – not just because they are black, but because they are talking about things that relate to us.

We have come a long way in black television, and even more so in black female-led television. These shows are really, and I mean really, bringing to light quality television. It is not some “stereotypical” reality show or anything – it is real.

These black females like Issa and Coel are writing these shows based on experience; based on what they know and what they dealt with. That is what makes these shows so special for black girls. We, finally, have something that we can relate to.

Every aspect of it, not just one part or certain parts. These two shows deliver exactly what it means to be a black girl, whether that be awkward, sexual, or confident. We experience it all between these six to seven episodes. I could not be happier with where black television is going.

Where Can We Watch These TV Shows?

These incredible TV shows can be caught on Netflix and HBO. While “Insecure” releases one episode each on HBO (like a regular TV show) – “Chewing Gum” releases all at one time on Netflix. It is a British show so in America we only have the ability to watch it on Netflix. I am unsure if it comes on television in the U.K.

Even if you are POC or not, please give these shows a watch. This is not just for black girls, but, I want to explain how exciting it is for black girls to be able to have these shows. Anyone can watch these shows, and I would advise anyone to watch them, they are quality television.

...And, hey, you may just learn something.

Cover Image Credit: theatlantic

Popular Right Now

5 Best Comedy TV Shows of 2017 That You Shouldn’t Miss

Spectrum Cable Channels come packed with entertainment options so that you don’t have to miss out on any of the entertainment genre Comedy.

Do you know that Comedy is one of the most-watched entertainment genre in the United States? Yes, it is, and rightfully so! Pertaining to the rushed nature of our contemporary lifestyles, and the obligation to outperform in all the challenges and endeavors that we face each day (be they work-related or otherwise), we need a proper and a regular dose of quality entertainment to invigorate our sore and tired nerves. Entertainment is as essentially needed as sleep, when it comes to refreshing and revitalizing ourselves to face another challenging day. 

And the very idea of watching a tragic or horror movie or show (in the very name of entertainment), would rather drain our brains more, leaving us feeling all gloomy and depressed or terrified (many won’t be able to even sleep well after watching a horror movie). So, yes, Comedy is the safest option when you aim on entertaining yourself. You actually feel gleeful and light-hearted after watching a comedy show and this is exactly the sole purpose of entertainment.

Hence, we have hand-picked 5 most entertainment-rich and fun-packed Comedy TV shows, for you to watch and have the much-craved entertainment dose. But most importantly pick the right Cable TV Service Provider, to enjoy a robust channel line-up that provides you with all the entertainment options of your choice. Spectrum Cable packages include HBO®, CBS®, NBC® that broadcast some of the best Comedy Shows.

  1. Big Little Lies

Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley star as the three Monterey mothers in ‘Big Little Lies’, that is aired on HBO®. Based on the best seller by Liane Moriarty, with the same title, the plot weaves a sinisterly comedic tale that involves murder as well as mischief, in the serene Monterey town on beachfront. It is an intelligent satire on how the communities are driven by gossip and rumors inside, that superficially seem to comprise of doting moms, very successful husbands, gorgeous children, and mesmerizing homes. 

The storyline exposes the broken and fractured relationships in apparently ‘ideal community’, especially between spouses, children and parents, and even neighbors and friends. Madeline, Celeste and Jane are the three protagonist mothers, and we get to know things through their eyes. We get to explore society's myths about perfection and romanticizing marriage, parenting and friendship, in a humorous way, which is why it is a massive hit in not only audience, but critics as well. 

2. Glow

Starring Alison Brie, Marc Maron, and Betty Gilpin, the plot of this comedy series, revolves around the professional and personal lives of this group of women, who work for a wrestling organization based in Los Angeles (in an 80s setting). The action begins when an out-of-work performer/actress, finds an unanticipated chance at fame and stardom, by entering the glamorous and glittery world of women's wrestling, where she has to work alongside a total of 12 other girls, who were just like her, Hollywood misfits. Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), an unsuccessful director of B movies’, tries to train these women to fame. 

It is aired on Netflix®, and is one of the best Netflix® shows to date. Best as a weekend-watch, the episodes are only 30 minutes of length, packed with humor, drama and hilarious performances. 

Some of the best episodes are Money's in the Chase, Live Studio Audience, and The Wrath of Kuntar.

3. Master of None

Aziz Ansari and Eric Wareheim are in Italy, in the second season of this Netflix® show. 

The Writer and creator Aziz Ansari, has based this series on his real-life experiences. Dev (Ansari) plays as a protagonist. He is a New York-based performer/actor, who is in the middle of this struggle of identifying and recognizing about what he actually wants, both in professional and personal life. The series unfolds snippets of Dev's early youth, whilst exploring aspects of his current life, that includes modern etiquette (and that is regarding social media and texting), since he is still young and single. Ansari's actual dad performed the role of his father in the series as well. 

In the second season, the script as well as the performances, both became more natural. And the love story in the second season is perhaps the most fascinating in any TV show.

The best episodes were, First Date and New York, I Love You.

4. The Good Place

Starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, The Good Place is one of the quirkiest comedy TV series, but also one of the most eagerly-watched one. 

Aired on NBC®, the plot revolves around Eleanor Shellstrop (Bell), who surprisingly found herself in the next world/afterlife, and she's both flabbergasted and relieved, that she has finally made it to The Good Place. But it is not long, when Eleanor realizes that she's there, mistakenly. She then consistently hides and ensures not coming in sight of the architect (of this Good Place) Michael and his all-aware and all-eyes assistant Janet. Her ‘apparently perfect’ neighbors Jianyu and Tahani, and her soul mate Chidi, help her recognize and realize the fact that it is never too late. So, with the help of these new friends, and a few foes, Eleanor makes a resolution to leave her old ways of life, and hopes to move forward with discovering and embracing a new one in this afterlife.

Also available on Hulu®, some of the best episodes were: Michael's Gambit, Mindy St. Clair and The Eternal Shriek.

5. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Aired on The CW and also available on Netflix®, it is one of the craziest comedy TV show of all times. It stars Rachel Bloom (also the executive producer), Donna Lynne Champlin, and Vincent Rodriguez III. The plot unveils when the extraordinary successful and ambitious, Rebecca Bunch apparently has it all, from a chic and expensive Manhattan apartment, to a partnership at a renowned, prestigious law company. Still she has a feeling that something is always missing, till she had a coincidental meeting with her former love interest. That made Rebecca spontaneously decide to give up her well-established life in New York altogether and relocate to a California suburb. In the hopes that she will make a perfect home, as she decides to embark on a pursuit for love, true happiness and adventure. 

The season two looks even more promising when it comes to the quintessential craziness of it, with a lot of love triangles. Best episodes were: Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith? and All Signs Point to Josh... Or Is It Josh’s Friend?

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Your Official 2018 Awards Season Movie Watchlist

A collection of fantastic films you probably haven't seen but really, really should.

With this year's Golden Globes now passed, 2018's awards season is finally kicking into high gear. If the eventful 75th Annual Golden Globes didn't satisfy your need for moving speeches or awkward encounters between celebrities, hopefully the upcoming Academy Awards will make up for it. For now, we'll have to wait until Oscar nominations are announced the last week of January.

If you're like most people, those esteemed Oscar-nominated (and eventually Oscar-winning) movies are usually ones you've never heard of before. With so many obscure films being thrust into the limelight, it can be hard for the average person to know which are worth watching, or which might be painfully slow and pretentious. This proves especially disappointing when you can't confidently cheer for your favorite film in a category of movies you never got the chance to see.

Thankfully, I've compiled a list of a 2018 Awards Season watchlist (in no particular order) to make your Oscar anticipation a slight bit easier. Here are the films from 2017 that will (almost) certainly make up the majority of Oscar categories:

2018 Oscar Contenders

"Wind River"

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Western

Rating: R

"Wind River" presents an intense crime drama that starts off slow and gradually builds up to a satisfying and climactic conclusion. The film features Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson (a pairing you might recognize as Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch), both of which give amazing performances and share a lot of fun chemistry.


"Call Me By Your Name"

Genre: Romance, Coming of Age

Rating: R

Explanation:

"Call Me By Your Name" is a coming-of-age tale set in Italy and centered around a 17-year-old boy who forms a relationship with a student working for his father. Its story covers the length of one summer as the two bond and discover more about themselves. It's been praised for its great performances, beautiful love story, and impressive cinematography.



"Get Out"

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Rating: R

Explanation:

You might be caught off guard seeing a horror movie getting considered a major Oscar contender, but "Get Out" completely deserves to be on this list. Jordan Peele's directorial debut proved not only an effectively terrifying horror flick but an astounding statement on the presence of racism in a modern setting. The film is rewarding because of the surprises involved, so I'll spare you the details so you can go check them out yourself.


"The Post"

Genre: Drama

Rating: PG-13

Explanation:

Hm, a Steven Spielberg film starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep? If there were a formula for making an award-winning movie, that'd definitely be it. Both actors showcase their dramatic acting talents in this historical thriller about journalists working to expose a deep-seated cover-up lasting three decades. The film sports an incredible ensemble cast and develops themes that reflect issues of the modern world.

"Lady Bird"

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Rating: R

Explanation:

Greta Gerwig's latest film "Lady Bird" has been a critical darling since it came out in November. Up until recently, it had maintained a solid 100% Rotten Tomatoes score, with critics praising lead Saoirse Ronan for her stellar performance. Now it sits at a disappointing 99% but has found even more success elsewhere, even winning Ronan the Golden Globe for Best Actress. The film centers around a complex mother-daughter relationship as they bond and grow to understand one another.


"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

Genre: Crime, Drama

Rating: R

Explanation:

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" has been floating around a lot of 'Top 10' lists when it comes to 2017 films, so it's no surprise it dominated at the Golden Globes. The film won Globes for Best Actress, Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Screenplay.


"The Shape of Water"

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Rating: R

Explanation:

This movie is absolutely insane, and I think that's why it feels so fresh. Guillermo Del Toro's "The Shape of Water" is a fairy tale love story between a mute custodian and a government-hidden fish-man creature. Pretty much every time I've explained this movie to someone I've had to immediately follow it up with "It's good, I promise!" because of the face I get. The movie won Del Toro his first Golden Globe for Best Director and is sure to get some major recognition at the Oscars, so be sure to check it out if you get the chance!



"The Disaster Artist"

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Rating: R

Explanation:

For years, Tommy Wiseau's absurd film "The Room" has been regarded as one of the worst movies all time, so much so that it has gradually developed a cult following of fans who ironically enjoy it as an unintentional comedy. James Franco's "The Disaster Artist" follows Wiseau's story as he puts together a hilariously bad film and comes to appreciate the notability it brings him, even though it came in an unexpected way.

"Darkest Hour"

Genre: Drama

Rating: PG-13

Explanation:

"Darkest Hour" has been commended for a number of reasons, the most prominent being Gary Oldman's insane transformation into Winston Churchill, an achievement not only in make-up and costuming but also through Oldman's stellar performance. The film follows Churchill as he navigates a diplomatic dilemma in his first days as Prince Minister during World War II.


"I, Tonya"

Genre: Drama, Sports

Rating: R

Explanation:

"I, Tonya" is a darkly comedic rendition of the well-known story of professional figure skater Tonya Harding as she rises in the ranks of her sport until her career is threatened when her ex-husband intervenes. Many are praising Margot Robbie's performance as the titular main lead, and the supporting actors also work brilliantly to enhance the story's emotional appeal.


"The Florida Project"

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Rating: R

Explanation:

From Sean Baker, the director who previously made an acclaimed indie flick shot from an iPhone ("Tangerine" in 2015), comes a character-driven drama about an impoverished mother and her six-year-old child, told from the child's unique perspective. It's devastating and is sure to tug at your heart-strings, so make sure you're up for a good emotional cleansing before diving in.



Since so many of the award-winning films are low-budget indie projects, they typically don't open widely in the same manner that blockbusters do. They often only open in certain areas at certain times or get shown on a limited number of screens, so it's inevitable that the majority of them are going to get overlooked by general moviegoers.

This, of course, is a shame considering that these are almost always the films that push the limits of the medium as a means of artistic expression. These are the films that make bold statements about the world we live in and aim to inspire strong emotions, whether that be fear, joy, or motivation. So don't pass up on watching these types of movies, because catching just one could alter how you view the world.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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