Over the past year, shows like Black-ish, Empire and How to Get Away With Murder helped usher in a new level of entertainment-industry interest and confidence in shows featuring more diverse actors in key roles. Some people even expressed concern that the industry might overcompensate for years (decades) of lack of diversity with too much of it in the next TV-pilot season. Gasp! (Is too much diversity even a thing?)
At last, the fall 2015 series-premiere schedule is upon us, and as most of us already knew, there was no reason for anyone to fear an #allblack(andbrown)everything. There is, however, much reason to celebrate.
Here are 15 new shows starring black actors in key roles that are worth getting excited about.
1. Minority Report (Fox)
Monday, Sept. 21, 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT
Interested in watching Meagan Good kick butt and take names? Set in Washington, D.C., in 2065, a decade after the events of the 2002 film of the same name, this futuristic crime-drama reboot follows the partnership between Detective Lara Vega, played by Good, and a man who can predict the future as they team up to prevent crimes before they happen. When The Root asked Good what we could expect from her in this role, she responded enthusiastically, "Grown-up Meagan! Woman Meagan! It's action. I get to beat people up. I get to be strong. I get to be feminine. The character Lara Vega is exactly what I want to be doing in my life right now!"
2. Blindspot (NBC)
Monday, Sept. 21, 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT
If you're a Bourne Identity fan, Blindspot may be right up your alley. After a Jane Doe with no memories of her past emerges from a duffel bag in New York City's Times Square with her naked body covered in tattoos, she gains the attention of the FBI, who follow the road map on her body to reveal a large crime conspiracy. Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays Bethany Mayfair, the director of the FBI; Rob Brown plays Edgar Reed, a member of the team who investigates the mysterious woman; and Ukweli Roach plays Dr. Borden, the doctor who evaluates and treats her.
3. Scream Queens (Fox)
Tuesday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT
This over-the-top horror comedy centers around a college sorority that is rocked by a series of murders after the dean forces the sorority's queen bee to accept anybody who wants to pledge (oh, the horror). Keke Palmer plays Zayday Williams, a student with a genius IQ whose friend convinces her to pledge Kappa Kappa Tau, and the hilarious Niecy Nash plays the incompetent security guard who is assigned to protect the Kappa ladies. Critics who attended a summer screening of the premiere have described it as "outrageous," "equally scary and hilarious," and "fun."
4. Limitless (CBS)
Tuesday, Sept. 22, 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT
Based on the 2011 film of the same name, Limitless follows Brian Finch, played by Jake McDorman, as he discovers the power of the mysterious drug NZT, which unlocks his limitless potential. Finch is coerced by the FBI into using his extraordinary cognitive abilities to solve complex cases for them, and Hill Harper plays Special Agent Boyle, a former military officer who is part of the team of FBI agents tasked with manipulating Finch's powers. While viewers can look forward to watching Harper leap over barricades and scale walls in this action-packed drama, Finch proves to be more effective than all of the FBI agents combined.
5. Rosewood (Fox)
Wednesday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT
In this medical crime dramedy, Morris Chestnut plays the eternally optimistic Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr., Miami's most brilliant private pathologist. Using his sophisticated, state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, he uncovers clues by finding secrets in people's bodies that the Miami Police Department can't see. Rosewood pairs up with a grouchy detective who is impressed by his abilities but annoyed by his constant "live life to the fullest" attitude, which he has embraced as a result of having his own set of medical ailments. Gabrielle Dennis plays Rosewood's sister and assistant, Pippy, and Lorraine Toussaint plays their mother, Donna.
6. The Player (NBC)
Thursday, Sept. 24, 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT
Wesley Snipes stars in this action-packed Las Vegas thriller about a high-stakes crime-fighting game in which an organization of wealthy individuals gamble on the ability of a former military sniper-turned-security expert, aka "the Player," to stop major crimes that threaten the lives of innocent people from happening. Snipes plays Mr. Johnson, the pit boss of the game, and Damon Gupton plays Detective Cal Brown. Ultimately, the Player will try to take down this organization of the incredibly rich and avenge the death of his wife.
7. Blood & Oil (ABC)
Sunday, Sept. 27, 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT
This prime-time soap opera follows a young married couple who find themselves in Williston, N.D., after the biggest oil discovery in American history. In their pursuit of riches, the couple encounter a cast of characters who make it difficult for them to keep the marriage and their dreams intact, including an oil tycoon and his socialite wife; his "illegitimate" biracial daughter, played by Miranda Rae Mayo (The Game); and a slick sheriff, played by Delroy Lindo.
8. Quantico (ABC)
Sunday, Sept. 27, 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT
Described by its creators as "Grey's Anatomy meets Homeland," this thriller follows a diverse group of recruits who arrive at the FBI base in Quantico, Va., for 21 weeks of training. Each trainee has a secret reason for enlisting, but one of them is suspected of masterminding the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Aunjanue Ellis plays the lead role of Miranda Shaw, the assistant director of the FBI Academy.
9. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
Monday, Sept. 28, 11 p.m.
The world watches with bated breath as South African comic Trevor Noah steps into Jon Stewart's very big shoes and takes over the beloved Daily Show after Stewart's 16-year run. This spring, after a series of jokes tweeted by Noah years ago were deemed offensive or just plain unfunny by many, Stewart asked fans to give Noah a chance to earn their "trust and respect … or not." In addition to offering a different perspective from Stewart's on current events and making slight changes to the set, Noah is doing his part to make The Daily Show his own by adding three new correspondents to the show's roster.
10. Grandfathered (Fox)
Tuesday, Sept. 29, 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT
Billed as a comedy about coming of age "at any age," Grandfathered stars Full House alum John Stamos as Jimmy Martino, a charismatic bachelor restaurateur whose life is turned around when he suddenly discovers that he's a father … and a grandfather. These new additions to his life set him on a journey to becoming less self-involved, and in the process, Jimmy will coach his son on how to win the affections of the mother of Jimmy's granddaughter, Vanessa, played by Christina Milian. Kelly Jenrette plays Annelise, Jimmy's assistant manager, who helps him navigate these new changes.
11. Code Black (CBS)
Wednesday, Sept. 30, 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT
Code Black is a heart-pounding, high-stakes medical drama that takes place in the busiest, most notorious emergency room in the nation. The influx of patients at this overcrowded and understaffed ER often outweighs the limited resources available to the team of dedicated doctors and nurses whose job is to perform lifesaving miracles—creating a condition known as Code Black. William Allen Young (Moesha) plays Dr. Rollie Guthrie, the energetic, longest-serving doctor on the team.
12. Dr. Ken (ABC)
Friday, Oct. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. CT
Created, written and produced by funnyman Ken Jeong from The Hangover, this sitcom chronicles the day-to-day life of a brilliant physician, Dr. Ken, played by Jeong, who is trying to balance his career with his family life, which is complicated by the fact that his wife is a therapist. Dr. Ken is based on Jeong's actual life as a medical doctor before he became a stand-up comedian and actor. Tisha Campbell-Martin stars as Dr. Ken’s employee Damona.
13. Truth Be Told (NBC)
Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. CT
Bresha Webb and Tone Bell star along with Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Vanessa Lachey in this comedy about two diverse couples who are best friends and neighbors and keep it honest when sharing their observations about sex, race and everything else your parents told you never to talk about. Produced by hit-maker Will Packer, this show covers the conversations that happen between people who are willing to say anything to one another even when they disagree.
14. Supergirl (CBS)
Monday, Oct. 26, 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. CT
Hollywood's superhero craze doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon. After unveiling her superpowers to save a flight of people from an unexpected disaster, DC Comics character Supergirl must learn to embrace her powers after previously hiding them. This series follows her heroic journey to being true to herself and her potential. DC Comics character photographer Jimmy Olsen, traditionally a white male character with distinctive red hair, will be played by Mehcad Brooks, who goes by James Olsen in the series and is Supergirl's love interest.
15. Chicago Med (NBC)
Tuesday, Nov. 17, 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT
In the newest installment of the successful Chicago franchise (after Chicago P.D. and Chicago Fire), this emotional, high-stakes drama brings viewers another team of Chicago heroes—the medical personnel in charge of the city's busiest and most explosive hospital. This medical team—run by S. Epatha Merkerson, who plays Sharon Goodwin, the head of the hospital, and including Yaya DaCosta, who plays nurse April Sexton—will take on cases of the week that are inspired by topical events. The team will also interact with characters from Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D.
Which shows will you be watching this fall?
Akilah Green is a recovering Washington, D.C., lawyer-lobbyist-politico turned TV and film writer and producer living in Los Angeles. She currently works for Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show, Chelsea. She has also worked as a staff writer for Kevin Hart’s production company, HartBeat Productions, and as a consultant for Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO. In addition, she co-wrote and is producing Scratch, an indie horror-comedy feature film, and is a regular contributor to The Root. Follow Green’s adventures in La La Land on her blog, Twitter and Facebook.