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.

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

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How SoundCloud Is Changing The Music Industry

Many of the most popular artists in the music industry all got their start on SoundCloud.

It’s no secret that the term “SoundCloud rapper” has changed in recent years. Due to the number of popular artists that originated from SoundCloud, aspiring artists are posting their music there in hopes of becoming famous now more than ever. This phenomenon has helped crank out some of the hottest artists in the music industry right now, and there are more artists blowing up every month.

Soundcloud has changed the game in the hip-hop scene. It was first founded in June of 2007 in Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss and was launched in October of 2008. It was originally intended to allow musicians to collaborate by facilitating the sharing and discussion of recorded audio but quickly became a music distribution tool. It offers a platform for artists to build a profile of their music and gain a following.

With the amount of music and so-called “SoundCloud rappers” on the site, the industry is flooding with more and more talent. Some of your favorite artists who are topping the Billboard Top 100 charts right now originated from Soundcloud, and you might not even know it.

Recent notable artists that got their start on SoundCloud include XXXTentacion, Post Malone, Lil Pump, Travis Scott, Playboi Carti, Lil Yachty, and even Lil Uzi Vert. They first started posting their music on Soundcloud and quickly built significant followings. Not only have they not been known for more than a couple years, but some of them have made timeless classics that you’ll be hearing for many years to come.

Post Malone’s first studio album, “Stoney [Deluxe Version],” released on December 6th, 2016, peaked at #1 on the Billboard Top 100 and was on the Billboard Top 100 for seventeen straight weeks. His album went platinum less than six months after being released. That album then reached double-platinum about six and a half months later.

His most popular song on that album, “Congratulations,” went platinum in about three and a half months after its release and has since gone 7x Platinum (selling seven million units) a little over a year and three months after its release according to the RIAA.

Another prime example of a popular SoundCloud originating artist is Lil Pump, who was one of the fastest growing artists in 2017 and 2018. He released his first album ever, "Lil Pump," on October 6th of 2017. On that album was his song, “Gucci Gang,” which went platinum a little after four months from its original release on September 1st of 2017.

For a SoundCloud artist who first started making music in late 2016 and putting up big numbers on SoundCloud with songs like "Boss," which went RIAA certified gold, and "Drose" in 2017, he's a prime example of an artist that originated from SoundCloud and became one of the biggest names in hip-hop in just under a year.

These hip-hop artists, along with many others, that originated from Soundcloud have made big marks on the music industry by making multiple platinum and triple platinum hits on multiple songs and albums, as well as some making songs that each top the Billboard Top 100 Charts consistently for multiple weeks in a row.

These facts not only describe the artists themselves, but it also paints a picture of how Soundcloud and the internet are shaping the music industry and making music more successful and accessible than ever. Soundcloud is one of the primary drivers of bringing up new artists and making networking easier than it ever has by allowing music to flourish and reach more people.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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5 Netflix Movies You Should Definitely Check Out

When you don't have a clue what to watch, try these.

Everyone goes through the "I don't know what to watch on Netflix" phase, and I'm here to tell you exactly what you should watch at least once.

1. "The Lovely Bones"

"After being brutally murdered, 14-year-old Susie Salmon watches from heaven over her grief-stricken family -- and her killer. As she observes their daily lives, she must balance her thirst for revenge with her desire for her family to heal."

This movie is actually my personal favorite movie. The film adaptation is spot on with the book, only missing minor details. It's an emotional movie though, so ready the tissues and ice cream.

2. "Charlie St. Cloud"

"Adored by his single mother and his little brother Sam, Charlie St. Cloud is an accomplished sailor and college-bound senior with a bright future ahead of him. When Sam dies in a terrible accident, Charlie's dreams die with him. But, so strong is the brothers' bond that, in the hour before each sunset, Charlie and Sam meet to play catch. The return of a former classmate leads Charlie to a difficult choice: remain stuck in the past, or let love lead him to the future."

"Charlie St. Cloud" is a movie that I watch at least three times a year. Zac Efron (swoon) performs flawlessly as his character and makes you feel as though what he's going through is real. This movie is truly moving and touches my heart. I highly recommend this movie, especially if you're looking to have a good cry.

3. "Cruel Intentions"

"Annette unwittingly becomes a pawn in Sebastian's and Kathryn's deliciously diabolical wager of sexual conquest when she writes an article in Seventeen Magazine about how she intends to stay pure until she marries her boyfriend. However, Sebastian gets more than he bargained for as he attempts to woo Annette into his bed."

Reese Witherspoon is my everyday woman crush so of course, I would recommend this movie. Its a dark kind of movie, at least for teen blockbusters. They actually made a musical out of it- which I find pretty cool.

4. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"

"Struggling musician Peter Bretter is better-known as the boyfriend of TV star Sarah Marshall. After she unceremoniously dumps him, he feels lost and alone but makes a last-ditch bid to get over it by going to Hawaii. However, she and her new boyfriend are there in the same hotel."

Okay so I actually just watched this one last week for the first time, and it is absolutely hilarious. There wasn't a moment I didn't laugh, sometimes I even cried a little. I highly recommend this movie if you and your friends are just hanging out and wanting to have a good laugh.

Warning: There's A LOT of nudity in this.

5. "When We First Met"

"After spending a night with the girl of his dreams only to become just friends, a man gets the opportunity to travel through time and alter that night over and over again until he gets everything perfect."

To be honest, I usually don't like Netflix originals (other than Stranger Things), but this one was actually really good. I watched this one day with my friends while we were all just hanging out and honestly, I was surprised with how much I liked it. It's really funny, and has some touching scenes as well. I highly recommend checking it out

Cover Image Credit: Charles Deluvio

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