1. Insecure (HBO Max)
If you’re guilty of falling behind on the four seasons of “Insecure, ” starring and created by Issa Rae since 2016, now is the time to catch up. It’s also another reason to try a HBO Max, one of the most expensive streaming services at $14.99 a month, yet probably one of the most worthy of it. It offers all of HBO’s critically acclaimed movies and TV and so much more.
Promising review: “I was very late to this show, but I’m so glad I finally gave it a chance. It brought so much joy and humor to quarantine.” –Melissa Perry
2. Watchmen (HBO Max)
“Watchmen” takes place in an alternative history where the U.S. won in Vietnam, Nixon had a five term presidency, African Americans have reparations for racial violence, and the police are protectors who need to hide their identity from vigilante white supremacy groups. It’s actually the adaptation of a 1988 DC graphic novel, centering on detective Angela Bar AKA Sister Night. Tune into this limited series for an amazing, crazy plot and see one of 2019’s best shows.
Promising reviews: “Please watch this!! So, so good and Regina King is a queen.” –Melissa Perry
“That show had me by the throat.” –Karina Karbo-Wright
3. Lovecraft Country (HBO Max)
Created by Misha Collins and co-written by Jordan Peele, this show deals with both supernatural themes and society’s racial horror, as Atticus Black joins his friend Letitia and his Uncle George journeys across Jim Crow America to find his missing father.
Promising review: “It’s really cool seeing a fantasy/timepiece (almost like an old Indiana Jones) with black people. This show created the space for these really interesting and historically-mindful stories. Also, for me personally, this show is a conversation starter. I would have my boyfriend pause the show so I could explain the significance of a detail/event or for us to have a dialogue about something mentioned in the show. ” –Shea McHenry
4. Girlfriends (Netflix)
You can now watch all eight seasons of the groundbreaking sitcom created by Mara Brock Akil with Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, Persia White, Reginald C. Hayes. Akil told Glamour last year for the show’s 20th anniversary, “I wanted Black women to see and enjoy their complexity, to see their beauty reflected.”
Girlfriends title card. (Copyright UPN/CW)
5. Julie and the Phantoms (Netflix)
You might like this series originally produced in Brazil if you liked “High School Musical the Musical: The Series,” watched Disney Channel Original Movies after “Camp Rock 2,” or think China Anne McClain left no crumbs in “Descendants 2.” You can also jam to every music video in the series on YouTube.
Promising review: “It’s a very wholesome show about music with incredible songs and BIPOC and LGBTQ+ representation.” –Olivia Pierce
6. Sylvie’s Love (Prime Video)
“Sylvie’s Love” will go down as one of my all time favorite romantic dramas. This movie has everything: A 1950s record shop in Harlem, jazz, Black women achieving, forbidden cross socio-economic status love, and Tessa Thompson, (who in my opinion, can do no wrong).
7. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
Watching Viola Davis embody August Wilson’s characters is always a spiritual experience, (remember “Fences”), but her portrayal of real-life “Mother of Blues” Ma Rainey alongside gone-too-soon talent Chadwick Boseman is icing on the cake. Set during one sweltering afternoon in a Chicago recording studio in 1927, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” offers not only amazing dramatic performances but a celebration of Black music.
8. Judas and the Black Messiah (HBO Max)
This biographical drama tells the story of Black Panther chairmen Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) up to his assassination and betrayal by William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield, who you may remember from “Get Out”), an FBI informant. The film arrives on HBO Max and in select theaters Feb. 12.
9. Bad Times at the El Royale (Hulu)
You may have overlooked this neo-noir thriller Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson and Chris Hemsworth in 2018, but if you have 2 hours and 20 minutes to spare and a taste for crime mysteries, then you should give “Bad Times at the El Royale” a watch. Find out what happens when four strangers in the early 1970s descend on a seedy hotel between Nevada and California.
10. The Photograph (HBO Max)
When a photograph tucked away in a safe-deposit box is found, Mae (Issa Rae) finds herself on a journey delving into her famous photographer mother’s early life. And more importantly, her quest sparks an unexpected love with rising investigative journalist (LaKeith Stanfield)
11. “Cinderella” (Disney+)
This iconic classic from 1997 starring Brandy and fairy godmother Whitney Houston will enchant Disney+ on Feb 12.
A special agent (John David Washington) must bend time to and deliver a one-word secret message to prevent World War III. This big-budget sci-fi-action-thriller directed and written by Christopher Nolan would have been perfect for the movie screens had it not been for 2020, but luckily we can have our minds boggled from the comfort of our home.
Promising review: “The STEM kid in me really likes “Tenet.” Great casting. Also just curious to see if it wins an award for its interesting manipulation of sound throughout the movie.” –Olivia Pierce