If you made it to the end of the week without drunkenly testifying on behalf of a citrus-colored commander-in-chief’s unfounded voter fraud agenda—congrats! Ready for some trailers? Let’s go!
First Impressions: COVID has had quite the effect on our daily lives—and every aspect of our lives, so naturally, you’re going to see content that specifically caters to the global pandemic. Case in point, couples therapy is a general concept...but factor in a COVID society. Dr. Orna Guralnik will help couples who are now dealing with their existing issues during a lockdown—meaning they’re quarantined together and can’t even escape their problems. Yikes.
First Impressions: Yaaaasss give us young Black ballerinas and ballerinos! Also, I love this title. In this doc, we follow the students (aged 8-18) of School of American Ballet (SAB) as they rehearse and eventually perform in New York City Ballet’s holiday classic “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” at the Lincoln Center. Speaking of Black performers at the Lincoln Center, I recently heard Harry Lennix wants to build the “Black version of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts” on the South Side of Chicago.
First Impressions: The 13th season (or series for the Brits) of Doctor Who returns with a New Year’s Day special (and The Thirteenth Doctor), everything will pick up right where Season 12 left off. Nathan Stewart-Jarrett is set to guest star in the special.
First Impressions: At this point, I expect to see Mariah Carey in front of the Supreme Court with a motion to legally own Christmas because she does in our hearts! You can now watch her, Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande hollering for the holidays on Apple TV+. (Editor’s note: You can also hear all about the process of writing her bestselling memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey on today’s episode of The Root Presents: It’s Lit!)
First Impressions: That’s right, it’s time for yet another installment of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series. This time we will meet Alex Wheatle (Sheyi Cole), who has a reckoning after having grown up in a mostly white institutional care home and later finding his first sense of community (and passion) in Brixton. However, he is thrown in prison during the Brixton Uprising of 1981, where he “confronts his past and sees a path to healing.”
First Impressions: Shot pre-COVID, Adventure Will Follow documents an impromptu trip around the globe. Per the press release: “Told through the lens and pen of Sasha Tobago, an African American filmmaker, journalist and explorer with 2 decades, 6 continents and 100s of locales under her travel belt.” I’m sure all travelers are experiencing some exploration withdrawal right now (I know I am!), so maybe this film can serve as a virtual escape (or torture, depending on how avid of a traveler you are). The doc is now available for pre-order at the film’s official website.
First Impressions: GET INTO “EMMY AWARD WINNER ZENDAYA” IN THE PROMO CAPTION. Also, shout-out to the masterful Colman Domingo! In this special episode (one of a two-part special), we follow Rue (Zendaya) on Christmas, following her relapse. And yes, I know you see that official release date up there but fans were recently surprised on Thursday with the fact that HBO Max subscribers can stream it early—as in right now.
First Impressions: Written and performed by Brian Copeland, The Jewelry Box is a prequel to Copeland’s Not a Genuine Black Man and is about a young Black boy who hits the “mean streets” of Oakland on a mission to get his mama a jewelry box for Christmas. Subscribers and single-ticket buyers can access the performance now through Dec. 25th, 2020. Tickets ($15 - $100) and subscriptions ($200 - $300) are now available at the San Francisco Playhouse website.
First Impressions: In a relevant special told in “self-shot documentary style,” Homeschool Musical: Class of 2020 will offer a look into American teens who have had to face the many challenges of this year. Each teen will sing a song that encapsulates their feelings and the special will feature interviews with each. That’s a pretty cool concept.
First Impression: Who run this motha?! From showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser (a damn legend in the Black TV game) and series creator Leigh Davenport, Run The World follows four Black women friends and is described as an “unapologetically female show about enviable friendship and not only surviving—but thriving together.”
First Impressions: The ladies are back pursuing their dreams in the ATL, and we all know that will come with more drama and beyond. Even if you’ve never seen one episode of Little Women: Atlanta, you know Shirlene “Ms. Juicy” Pearson when you see her thanks to her countless memes alone. A season preview titled, Little Women: Atlanta Kickoff Special will debut on Jan. 22 at 9 pm ET/PT featuring a tribute to the late Ashley “Minnie” Ross.
First Impressions: A Christmas Surprise stars Wendy Raquel Robinson, Keesha Sharp, Will Blagrove, Katelynn Bennett and Mustapha Slack and follows a self-made businesswoman who gets a Christmas surprise (get it?!) from her daughter—welp, she’s engaged! Another surprise? The nigga she’s engaged to is described as “less-than-impressive” and he has an “overbearing mother.” Yikes.
First Impressions: Belle Collective follows Dr. Antoinette Liles (Mississippi’s few Black female dentists), Lateshia Pearson (CEO of National Women’s Brunch Organization), Latrice Rogers (founder of Goddess Lengths), Marie Hamilton-Abston (CEO of Hamilton Davis Mental Health), Tambra Cherie (host of “The Relationship Hour”), who are all described as “successful, glamourous boss women, who are redefining what it means to be a southern belle in Jackson, Mississippi.”
First Impressions: Directed by Charles Murray, A Cold Hard Truth stars Simone Missick (All Rise) and Dorian Missick (Luke Cage). Wait, is that Michael Beach?! Why yes, yes it is. And his character (a minister!) says “don’t push me” in the trailer, further cementing that he is allergic to roles where the character is a decent person.
First Impressions: Jordan Johnson-Hinds (Blindspot), co-stars in this Canadian series about “five young nurses working on the frontlines of a busy downtown hospital.” It first premiered earlier this year on Global TV (the premiere became the most-watched episode of a scripted Canadian series in over two years for total viewers) and its 10-episode season will soon air on NBC. It’s giving me Grey’s Anatomy, but specifically centering on nurses.
From Poor to CEO: The Incredible Journey of Herman Cain (Now Available on DVD and Digital via hermancainmovie.com; Available on Amazon.com in January 2021)
First Impressions: After being diagnosed with COVID-19, Herman Cain lost his battle and died from complications from the disease this past summer. This documentary will chronicle “a man who came from a poor and under-educated family and reached the highest levels of corporate, social and political America, while always remembering his roots in family and faith” and will feature first-person interviews with Cain, his family and community members.
Christmas Comes Twice (Hallmark Channel; Premiere Date: Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. ET and on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries; Air Date: Dec. 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT)
First Impressions: Starring Tamera Mowry-Housley, Michael Xavier, Zarrin Darnell-Martin and Sheryl Lee Ralph, Christmas Comes Twice is a time-travel tinsel treat (say that five times fast) following an astrophysicist who, not quite satisfied with the trajectory of her career, ends up five years in the past after a magical carnival snafu and finds a new appreciation for her life.
First Impressions: Holly Robinson Peete (A Family Christmas Gift), Rukiya Bernard (One Winter Weekend), Antonio Cayonne (Fashionably Yours), Barbara Niven (Chesapeake Shores), Colin Lawrence (Riverdale) and Ashley Williams (How I Met Your Mother) star in this film following a beloved mayor juggling wedding preparations and a Christmas Museum opening. To alleviate some of that stress, she enlists her sister-in-law to take the lead on the museum launch, but the shenanigans don’t end there—the mayor’s sister also comes to town with some unexpected news.
A Balcony In Brooklyn (Now Streaming on Vimeo)
First Impressions: From Black-owned award-winning production studio Campsight Studios, A Balcony In Brooklyn “gives a dystopian look at an underground party during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in NYC.” The fact that “Who would you rather be, Shaun King or Shawn Carter?” is a line in the trailer made me stop in my tracks, and now I’m intrigued. LOL! Also, Happy Birthday to the latter Shawn.
With Drawn Arms (Bounce; Release Date: Dec. 13, following the Bounce Trumpet Awards at 8 p.m. ET/PT)
First Impressions: Bounce recently acquired the world broadcast premiere rights to this documentary produced by Jesse Williams and John Legend, which “explores the impact and the legacy of American track star Tommie Smith’s then-shocking symbol of protest against social injustice while receiving the gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics.” Power to the people, indeed.
First Impressions: Keke Palmer and Common will host the second part of this series highlighting racial injustice and inspiring viewers to take action to protect Black lives with appearances by Anthony Anderson, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Mark Cuban, Jemele Hill and more. Plus, Patti Labelle, Rapsody and SAINt JHN are set to perform.
First Impressions: Basically, a father wins a $10-million lottery and plans to split it with his three daughters, but there’s a catch! They all have to mend their broken relationships before they get a cut of the profitable pie. As Entertainment Weekly pointed out in their first look spotlight, this film “features an LGBTQ couple and a mother with dementia.” The “mother with dementia” part is important here because there’s another layer of conflict—because of the mother’s illness...THEY CAN’T EVEN FIND THE TICKET. Lord. Anyway, OMG there’s Carl Winslow (government name Reginald VelJohnson)!
First Impressions: Ciera Payton stars as Wendy Williams herself in the biopic, with Morocco Omari starring as Wendy’s ex-husband and former manager Kevin Hunter. Wendy already had a relationship with Lifetime, executive producing that mess known as Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B and now she’s showcasing her own life (and you can tell it’s from her perspective). A couple of things about the trailer though—where the hell is the deep timbre of her well-known voice?! And why didn’t I hear at least one “How You Doin’?” soundbite?! Come on, y’all! Anyway...I bet you I’ll be tuned the fuck in for this mess, regardless!
Afro-Atlantic Memories (Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute; Release Date: Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. ET)
First Impressions: Afro-Atlantic Memories tells the story of “a Black American linguist, Lorenzo Dow Turner, [who] came to Brazil to study the African languages still spoken and sung in the Candomblés of Bahia” in 1940. This doc’s screening is part of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute’s (CCCADI) “Zumbi Afro Bahia Cultural Program Series.” Additionally, CCCADI is hosting an ongoing series called “Curators in Conversation” and the next session will feature Maria Elena Ortiz (curator at the Perez Art Museum Miami), O’Neil Lawrence (chief curator of The National Gallery of Jamaica and co-curator of the Jamaica Biennial 2017) and will be moderated by CCCADI’s Curator-at-Large Grace Aneiza Ali. To watch the series and learn more, head to cccadi.org.
First Impressions: Jaden Smith portrays a 17-year-old who falls for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks (Cara Delevingne), then learns she’s dying and only has a year of life left. Oh man, this surely seems like one of those melancholy teen films that will leave you curled up in your bed in a puddle of tears.
First Impressions: Karen Bryson co-stars in this three-part mini-series adapted from the 1939 Rumer Godden novel of the same name. The series follows “a group of nuns [facing] challenges in a hostile environment of a remote Himalayan palace that they wish to make a convent.” I haven’t seen it yet, but the press release describes it as “forbidden desire, religion and sexual repression.” Ooooh.