The 10 Best Black TV Shows You Might’ve Missed

A Different World Cast

Reruns and takeout, anyone?

Netflix, HBO, and other popular streaming services have stepped their game up in recent years to highlight popular Black programming. And we’re here for it.

From Hulu’s “Black Stories” hub to Netflix’s “Strong Black Lead” sub-brand, it’s now a lot easier to find a classic Black TV show or discover a new creation to binge-watch.

But with these new options, endless scrolling can become a problem. And to make your selections even faster, we’ve rounded up our list of the ten best Black TV shows that were, or are, a little bit off the radar. 

Chuck up the deuces to your weekend plans, and let’s dive into the world of Black TV: 

1. ‘A Different World’ (1987-1993) 

The Cosby Show brought us this glorious spin-off that’s probably the best ode to the HBCU experience out there. The coming-of-age show storied Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) as she navigates college life and the beginnings of adulthood. While Black millennials, and those before them, probably know this show well, it often gets buried behind The Cosby Show talk in most conversations. So Gen Z, wake up to this now!

2. ‘I May Destroy You’ (2020) 

The Emmy-winning HBO show brought to us by Michaela Coel tells a chilling and all-too-real story of a young woman (Coel) who experiences sexual assault during a night out and is forced to come to terms with its impact on her work, relationships, and life. It aired around the same time as Lovecraft Country, which captured a much bigger audience, so there’s a good chance you may not have caught this one.

3. ‘Family Matters’ (1989-1998) 

Who can compare to the famous Steve Urkel (Jaleel White), everyone’s favorite nerdy, friendly next-door neighbor? This nostalgic sitcom had a long run, coming in as the third-longest-running live-action show. Again, older black generations may have watched this to death on TGIF, but as it rarely comes up in the “best black TV shows of all-time” conversations, we wanted to make sure it was still on your radar.

4. ‘Scandal’ (2012-2018) 

Would it be a best Black TV shows list without a Shonda Rhimes show? Nuh-uh. Kerry Washington did what she had to do when it came to portraying the Olivia Pope, the queen of crisis management in Washington, D.C. Okay, it’s unlikely our Black ladies didn’t know about this show already, but the facts suggest a good number of men were tuned…so here’s you chance, fellas!

5. ‘Living Single’ (1993-1998) 

Who doesn’t want to see a group of 20-something-year-old Black women figuring life out in NYC? Bring on the ‘90s fashion and Black girl magic, please. Of course, we wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t check out Harlem, another black-woman-laden TV show.

6. ‘Empire’ (2015-2020) 

Folks skipped out on Wednesday bible study for weeks just to catch Empire. So when Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson share a screen, we’re there. No questions asked. But viewership significantly declined in the latter seasons, so many of you still have some catching up to do, and you should. It’s possible the show actually got better at the end!

7. ‘Martin’ (1992-1997)

You knew it was coming. If you need a good laugh, the wit and antics Martin serves up never gets old. It’s over 25 years since Martin last aired. Gen Z just turned 25. Young folks…go watch it!

8. ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’ (2019-Present)

Yes, there’s a Black comedy sketch show that’s written and produced by Black women and stars all Black women, too, and that’s really all you need to know. Run, don’t walk to watch comedian Robin Thede’s creation. While the critical acclaim is there, the ratings aren’t. Black people–if you’ve been looking for your version of SNL, this is it.

9. ‘Moesha’ (1996-2001) 

This sitcom starring Brandy Norwood as Moesha is timeless. If you want to see a teen show that actually feels like an accurate depiction of adolescent years, Moesha is it. While the show was certainly a 90s classic, it fizzled out at the end, and ended on a cliffhanger. But talks of a reboot remain high after its digital resurgence on Netflix, so you might want to catch up in time for some new episodes!

10. ‘Atlanta’ (2016-2022) 

We’ve got another Emmy-winning show that knows how to tell stories that just feel real beyond explanation. If you’re interested in Atlanta’s rap scene, comedy, and wet lemon-pepper wings, give Atlanta some watch time. The long-waited third season is finally coming out in 2022, so now’s your time to get caught up if you weren’t already on the bandwagon.

Do yourself a favor and check out these amazing shows! And if you need some more black TV shows in your life, be sure to check out BlackOakTV’s original Black TV shows anytime!  

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