Tuesday 25th July 2017,
Televisual

10 Web Shows BET Could Greenlight After ‘The Game’

Thanks to TheLoop21 (and MAN) for linking!

Now, several weeks after the huge premiere of The Game, ratings for the show have fallen. While the numbers still look good, BET  executives might be a little concerned viewers aren’t sticking with the show.

Do I like The Game? I think it’s okay. As the leading black sitcom on television, though, I think it should probably be better. The show is an interesting spin on the single camera sitcom, blending slapstick, soap opera and melodrama. It’s a bit odd, which would be fine, except it’s missing some verve.

I’ve seen series of similar quality on the web, and these shows are made with a fraction of the budget — sometimes no budget at all — in a short amount of time. There are a number of black-led and produced web series that, with the help of a BET-sized budget, could out do The Game. And there are more potentially solid series that have yet to premiere, including Milk and Honey (from Idris Elba), Booster Club (with Rashad McCants, Traci Lords), and Lenox Avenue (from Al Thompson of Johnny B. Homeless and a number of other shows).

Below are a few I think might benefit from an upgrade from the web to TV. I’ve embedded either the first episode, trailer or screener for each (may not be visible on mobile devices).

Note: These are just a handful of shows that I’ve seen, are popular or I think might appeal to the Game audience. Please consult my black web series list (or the Facebook group, or Shadow and Act) to check out all the shows, as there are many gems to be found. As I’ve covered this I’ve tried not to claim some series are “better” than others. I merely want to spotlight a few, random standouts.

***

12 Steps to Recovery

Tony Clomax’s professional series focuses on a man who’s recently broken up with his girlfriend and is trying to recover by dating a series of other women. The series looks great, often better than most of the black shows on TV, and the supporting cast is quite strong. 12 Steps is distributed on YouTube and on a new network, VisionTube, a site I profiled for Black Web 2.0.

***

Buppies

Julian Breece’s series has already been on BET — online. Produced and starring Tatyana Ali, the series has everything BET seems to want out of The Game: glamor, hip hop, soap opera and comedy. But Buppies, much cheaper than The Game, I would argue is better written, more bang for the buck. Why doesn’t BET pick it up? See my full review here and interview with Ali here.

***

Celeste Bright

As a drama, Celeste Bright is a well-written series. From TV writer Sonya Steele, the story revolves around a financier (Celeste Bright), who becomes embroiled in a financial scandal. With a slightly bigger budget — more time to flesh out its story, additional subplots and more characters — Celeste Bright could be the kind of drama black audiences have been looking for. For more about the series, see my story here.

***

Johnny B. Homeless

One of many projects by Al Thompson, whom I interviewed awhile ago, Johnny B. Homeless is a funny sitcom about an itinerant couch surfer, Johnny. With a larger platform, Thompson’s inventive concept could be hugely addictive.

***

Rhyme Animal

Hip hop dramas are a small niche in the web series world. Rhyme Animal, nominated for awards from Clicker to Indie Intertube, has enough glamor to bring in an audience but retains its underground feel. The story revolves around a DJ and a rapper, one of whom is a serial killer.

***

Chick

Chick, a series by Kai Soremekun, is a campy sci-fi tale about finding strength after a difficult relationship. With a lot of heart and pretty cool look, Chick has the fundamentals for an avant-garde half-hour sitcom, certainly more original than most of what’s out there already.

***

Diary of a Single Mom

Robert Townsend and Cheryl West’s Diary of a Single Mom has developed a cult following for its portrayal of a woman dealing with raising kids in an urban apartment building she manages. Ocean (Monica Calhoun) has numerous obstacles to deal with — including maintaining her home and getting a degree — and she’s supported by a strong, diverse cast of industry veterans and newcomers.

Read my story and interview with Robert Townsend for more information!

***

Blue Belle

Perry Lang’s series about school teacher who works as a prostitute may be a bit controversial, but the series is nonetheless an interesting and thoughtful rumination on what it means for a woman to lead a double life. Led by Tessa Thompson (For Colored Girls), Blue is both assertive and vulnerable, a character which may appeal to black women. Blue Belle is beautifully composed, sophisticated and intriguing.

***

Wed-Locked

Wed-Locked is the same concept as Let’s Stay Together, and is just as interesting. The series follows newlyweds as the grapple with issues of living together — from “backwash” from the juice carton to baby talk in bed. The lesson? Perhaps a good way to get a relationship comedy is to get a script from a homegrown acting/writing duo like these two.

***

Truth

Like Wed-Locked, Truth could benefit from tighter editing and script, but the series is still well-shot and has a lot of spirit. Like The Game, the drama is personal drama — he said, she said, he slept, she slept — but that stuff is fun, isn’t it?

Share This Article

About The Author

Aymar Jean Christian is assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University. He writes about media and society for a number of publications. For more information, click the "About" tab at the top of the page.

13 Comments

  1. Jenna February 1, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Blue Belle is absolutely stunning. There is nothing like this on TV that I can think nor has there been anything as honest and raw, centered on a woman.

  2. monie valentine February 2, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Hello, I’ve been viewing your posts for awhile as I’m in preproduction on my webseries called Saved and the City. I came here as a source to find funding for it and learned about Kickstarter.com. I also have a TV Blog. Please check it out and become a follower and I’ll send you a free video game! I’d like to know if you have any other sources for funding of web video. And I’d also like your views on faith-based web videos?

  3. monie valentine February 2, 2011 at 2:12 am

    OH, I forgot to comment on the post! Brilliant by the way I couldn’t have done it better myself. I agree with your choices of Lenox Avenue, Milk & Honey, Buppies, and 12 Steps to Recovery. But the rest just don’t seem appropriate for BET’s audience. Having been a television news writer myself each network has a certain target demographic. BET’s demographic is 18-24 year olds. The BlueBelle series a teacher that’s a prostitute would send advertisers running then again MTV seems to thrive off controversy. “Diary..” seems like a perfect fit but its so depressing. The mood has to lighten up a bit. I started to watch the series but found literally fell asleep during the first episode. Otherwise, The Telereporter supports 40% of your list.

  4. Pyramid Pictures February 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    We’re also in the process of filming a mystery/thriller web series called OSIRIS. http://kck.st/OsirisTheSeries

    The series follows the title character “Osiris”, a man with an eternally extended warranty on life. He can never stay dead. If killed, he resurrects in EXACTLY 37 minutes, every time.

    It will be a 10-episode mystery-action-thriller Internet series featuring tense crime mystery, espionage with a touch of sci-fi and the supernatural. Each episode will be 6-10 minutes long with a jaw dropping cliffhanger! In the vein of classic shows like True Blood, Lost and 24, we hope to make “Osiris” addictive television for the web!

  5. Aymar Jean Christian February 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks for the comment! I do think BET is trying to expand a bit, and of course Centric is a big part of that.

  6. Aymar Jean Christian February 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Let me know when it comes out!

  7. Aymar Jean Christian February 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Let me know when it comes out!

    Faith-based series do work, just make sure the story’s interesting!

    I’ve written a bit about Kickstarter. See my “how to” here: http://news.tubefilter.tv/2010/07/09/how-to-raise-money-for-a-web-series-with-kickstarter. And some stats for web series here: http://blog.ajchristian.org/2010/10/09/kickstarter-and-crowdfunding-the-web-series-success-rate.

  8. monie valentine February 9, 2011 at 1:40 am

    @Pyramid Pictures! Hey guys I saw your clip on Shadow and Act as I follow them as well! Awesome work. I will be donating to your campaign. The subject matter is off the chain. I plan to do something based on Egyptian Mythology myself so bravo! Also I am in preproduction on a series called Saved and the City myself and plan to post on kickstarter as well. I was gonna post your link here for you as well. Have you posted your link to BET if not you should and do you have a trailer? If so I’d like to post it onto my blog http://www.thetelereporter.com.

  9. Rae October 3, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    How is Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl left off this list? I love the webseries. http://awkwardblackgirl.com/

  10. Aymar Jean Christian October 3, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    I published this post shortly before ABG premiered and long before it took off as a hit.

    But I’ve covered ABG since (http://blog.ajchristian.org/2011/08/10/awkward-black-girl-creator-issa-rae-talks-crowdfunding-indie-production-and-moving-from-web-to-tv) and it’s long been included on my list of black web series (http://blog.ajchristian.org/black-web-series).

Leave A Response