I’m increasingly busy these days, and I have to watch TV for my day job, so when it’s time for me to watch something that’s not for work and at a time when I want to relax, it’s often hard for me to want to waste those hours on a Black sitcom, TV show, or movie that I’ve already seen.
So 9 times out of 10, what I end up watching is something new and something funny. Something that will make it harder for me to think about my day job, because I won’t already know how the story ends all while I’m laughing my ass off. Which brings me to Netflix and the “Only on Netflix” category.
Listen, with BlackOakTV, I’ve obviously made a career (hopefully it turns out to be a career!) out of the fact that I don’t think Netflix puts enough emphasis on Black TV shows and movies, so you know where I stand. And as I sit here and observe the number of original Black comedies currently on that are original to Netflix–well, it doesn’t take me very long to get through the list. While there is much to be desired in terms of quantity, there are still some quality Black TV comedies and stand-up routines on the streamer. I’ll stay away from the mainstays that have long been there and that everyone knows about like Dear White People, any of the Dave Chappelle specials, or Orange is the New Black, which was part comedy, part exercise in adult convict psychology.
Instead, I’ll focus on the wholly original, and largely recent, Black comedy titles on Netflix, so like me, you can find something to watch–when you’re not watching BlackOakTV of course.
Despite all of the controversy surrounding Dave Chappelle’s The Closer, Netflix appears to be all-in with Dave, having announced of stand-up specials, executive produced by Dave, in which Dave brings some of the less talked-about black comedians of the past 30 years to stand-up special stage. They’re kicking things out with the notorious Earthquake, who in the special touches on everything for prostate exams to politics. The initiated (i.e. the Blacks) know him from Everybody Hates Chris and Black Jesus. Mainstream America knows him from his stint on The Neighborhood, on CBS. Those of us who really know him, know him from Def Comedy Jam and Comicview. I know that last group is going to love his stand-up special on Netflix. The rest of you, get with the program.
I know I’ve been beating this dead horse, but I just don’t understand how #blackAF didn’t get more love. Folks were too busy browbeating it because they thought it didn’t show the diversity and Black skin tones that they thought it should. So while they were beating up the co-creator of America’s Next Top Model, one of the pioneering shows in showcasing beauty across the diaspora of Black women, they were missing out one of the funniest and most irreverent Black comedies of our time. Honestly, I’m not sure we had something that fresh and comedically intelligent combined with having something to say since The Chappelle Show, and yet it was largely our own people giving it smack. Anyway, if you’re looking to laugh with your TV instead of having it perfectly reflect the unilateral vision you have of the world, then please check out this hilarious family comedy that sadly only got 1 season Netflix.
Ms. Pat: Y’all Wanna Hear Something Crazy
Ms. Pat has been in this comedy game for 20 years, a relative bloomer entry at the age of 30. She’s been very upfront about her story, have two children before she was 16, having been sexually abused, and selling crack under the name “Rabbit” to support her children. That is quite the unique journey, and as you can imagine, serves as tremendous fodder for her standup routines. I encourage you to learn more about Ms. Pat and her unique brand of comedy in this brazen Netflix comedy special.
When you get Wanda Sykes and Mike Epps on screen, you’re bound to have fireworks. Throw in Kim Fields, and you potentially have one of the better Black family sitcoms in the making. The Upshaws focuses on a recently divorced couple (Fields and Epps), who despite their troubles, still live together and co-parent their children. Sykes is the mean older sister who never liked Epps in the first place. This isn’t one of those irreverent, smarter than you, comedies you’re seeing on premium television all the time. No, this is a true sitcom in which every episode is built on putting each of these loveable characters in the most trying of positions and situations and making you laugh at the absurdity of it all. And laugh you will.
Another relic from the past: the multi-camera black family sitcom. Let’s admit it, these have become a dying breed. Take a show like Black-ish, a lovely show, definitely built on a sitcom-like foundation. But they’ve done entire shows in musical form, did a multi-episodic arc on divorce, and have constantly brought up facts and figures about Black people in America. And while I love all of that and even think that’s why the show has to be considered one of the best Black TV shows of all-time, it’s not a traditional family sitcom.
But Family Reunion is. Hopefully, you have already caught wind of this show. I can’t lie, I love seeing Tia Mowry back on the screen, as she has now entertained us across four different decades (sorry to put your age out there like, Mrs. Mowry). In her true form, Mowry is putting the situation back in sitcom, as the budding matriarch of a family forced to move in with her mother-in-law in the south. Her once-rich family from Seattle obviously doesn’t quite fit in, so you can imagine the different situations that yields. Everything from acting inappropriately at church to running a restaurant with no restaurant experience makes an appearance in this show–with each situation being funnier than the next.
Dolemite is My Name
If you’re going to make a comeback, you might as well do it with some of the same amazing stuff that got you there. That’s what Eddie Murphy does in his new Netflix movie Dolemite is My Name, as he returns to his roots of playing the infamous Dolemite character in both films and his stand-up routines from the 1970s. And if you thought Murphy would be rusty, that wouldn’t be just like expecting someone to forget how to ride a bike, it would be like expecting the person who invented the bike to forget how to ride a bike. By bringing Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Tituss Burgess and Wesley Snipes along for the ride, this movie was a can’t miss out of the gate–which is probably why it was selected for the Toronto Film Festival and a Golden Globe nominee for Best Motion Picture (musical or comedy) and for Best Actor.
If you’re looking for more Black shows on Netflix, we’ve got a list of what we believe to be the 17 highest-rated shows and movies on the service.