The fall season is near, and I have to be honest: I don’t care about trees changing colors (I live in Los Angeles, where it’s green ... everywhere), and pumpkin spice makes me as excited as a vegan lion. But what I am enthusiastic about is what autumn entertainment will bring. Whether it’s the return of an oldie or the debut of a goodie, fall television is bound to pique your interest.
Black television and black representation on TV are undergoing yet another renaissance, and I am here for each and every bit of it. But to display some of that honesty again—I have to admit that we still have a long way to go. Nowadays, it feels as if there are so many high-quality TV shows, we can’t even keep up with them all. Plus, the rise of streaming platforms means that we’re being hit left and right with entertaining content. As the numbers grow, however, so does the widening of the representation gap. Though I am excited about the increase in black-dominated television, I can’t help thinking that I’m grasping for scraps. I guess going from starving to snacking can make you feel that way.
Still, I do want to give shine to some of the content we have to look forward to. So without further ado, here’s a list of upcoming black TV shows to satisfy your palate—especially after you’ve been crunching a bunch of dead leaves and bringing them into your crib:
To be honest, I’m mostly here for what new quip Ruby Johnson (shoutout to the unmatched Jenifer Lewis, aka “Your IMDb Page Could Never”) is going to fling at her son Dre (Anthony Anderson), Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) or Pops (Laurence Fishburne). Or Diane’s (Marsai Martin) deft side eye. Last time we saw the Johnsons, we were holding our breath awaiting the debut of the newest mini Johnson. Since Black-ish never shies away from tough conversations about race and politics, the next season should bring an interesting dynamic, given the new baby and Zoey’s (Yara Shahidi) send-off to college (with Grown-ish soon to come). Season 4 of Black-ish premieres Tuesday, Oct. 3.
This one is a newbie! Starring Brandon Micheal Hall, Lea Michele, Bernard David Jones, Marcel Spears and Yvette Nicole Brown, The Mayor follows a struggling hip-hop artist who decides to run for mayor to sell his mixtape and—oops, pow, surprise—he actually wins. I’m looking forward to the shenanigans that shall ensue. Plus, one of the executive producers is the ever-so-talented Daveed Diggs. The series premiere of The Mayor takes place Tuesday, Oct. 3.
One word: ShondaLand. And this ain’t just another season of the show that smoothly snatches your wig within the last five minutes; this is the final season. Of the entire series, y’all. This is, essentially, black history. The sixth season wrapped up with the aptly titled “Transfer of Power” episode, in which Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) reclaimed her crown in a way that had everyone looking like the shocked Patrick From SpongeBob SquarePants meme. Given Ms. Rhimes’ knack for drama, this last season is sure to leave the entire universe edgeless. Lucky No. season 7 of Scandal premieres Thursday, Oct. 5.
Also known as “Lighting Black Folks Properly Is the Best Thing to Happen to Our Vision,” Ava DuVernay’s beautifully shot drama follows three siblings: Nova (Rutina Wesley), Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) and the fahn-ass Ralph Angel Bordelon (Kofi Siriboe). Queen Sugar last left us with the sophomore midseason finale. In addition to the masterfully crafted, emotionally wrought scenes, DuVernay truly “walks the walk” and consistently employs female directors for each episode, adding that much-needed intimate touch. The second half of Queen Sugar’s season 2 launches Tuesday, Oct. 3.
Wait, before I get into this ... pass the tissues. OK. So, stay with0 me ... this isn’t necessarily a black-dominated television show, but the diverse representation is there. Featuring a talented ensemble cast, This Is Us follows a collection of people who have the same birthday, yet live entirely different lives. Of course, as much as they are different, the series connects them in subtle ways. Sterling K. Brown shone as Randall Pearson in a breakthrough performance that earned him a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. Season 2 of This Is Us premieres Tuesday, Sept. 26.
We all know that this show has reached a new level of ridiculousness. Season 3 ended with a plot device for Lucious’ (Terrence Howard) character that was such a soap-operatic reach, it rivaled the Space Jam climax. But I have to be honest ... I’m interested to see where they go this season. I can’t imagine that the show could get any more absurd, but I feel like Lee Daniels & Co. will take that as a challonj. Plus, more drama means gaudier Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) outfits, and I’m always here for those. Season 4 of Empire premieres Wednesday, Sept. 27.
Black television royalty Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil return with a powerful spark in Black Lightning, about a DC Comics superhero who hangs up his mask but is pulled back into the game after his daughter faces the risk of being recruited into the local gang. The show stars Cress Williams, Nafessa Williams, China Anne McClain and Christine Adams. With the success of shows like Luke Cage, I’m just ready for some more badassery starring black folks. I can never get enough. Black Lightning’s exact series premiere date is still TBA, but it is expected to premiere in 2018 for the 2017-2018 season.
That’s just a taste of what’s to come this fall, but I know I’m ready for the main course. My body is ready for some fall entertainment. Let me just grab my (non-pumpkin spice) popcorn.