For Us by Us—Black Women on TV

from Season 2 of HBO’s ‘Insecure’

TEXT: Shauna Mercy

For 8-10 glorious weeks in the summer, my girlfriends and I gather to watch HBO’s Insecure on Sundays. Finally, 30+ mins of storytelling — for us by us. We find ourselves laughing at Issa’s mirror monologues, cheering when Molly slays at work, and cringing when both girls make a complete mess of their love lives. Thankfully, Insecure is just one of many shows featuring black female talent.

These days black girls can look forward to Blackish, Greenleaf, Queen Sugar and the entire Thursday night Shondaland line up, and it’s about time too! For far too long black girls have grown accustomed to not seeing our faces in characters from our favourite shows. And when we are included, the characters tend to be monolithic in nature — we’re either matriarchal, magical and perfect, or urban (because you can’t possibly be all those things at once).

The constant white washing of our humanity is unbelievably exhausting so it makes sense that we gravitate to and celebrate shows that put the narrative of Black female lives back in our hands. I longed for the day when black women would be regular fixtures on TV, where we play white caped heroines saving men from their scandals one day, and basic AF, flawed, insecure women the next.

Though most days we find ourselves yelling at our faves, it feels good. It feels good to see us dominating TV with layered portrayals of what it means to be black and female. It feels good to see those same black female voices win golden statues for jobs well done. It feels good to have options. But mostly it just feels good to finally see us building our OWN tables rather than asking for a seat at theirs.

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10 Shows on Canadian Netflix Worth Watching

Feel like starting a new television series but don’t know which one? Well, you’re in luck because I’ve highlighted 10 shows available on Canadian Netflix that will have you binge watching an entire season in just a matter of days. Check out our list of buzz worthy shows with great story plots and incredible acting.

Broadchurch (Season 1)


Broadchurch is a mystery/thriller that follows a small town after the death of a young boy. The once tightknit Broadchurch now gets torn apart after suspects begin to arise. This show is not your average mystery because the heartbreaking tale examines the human psyche and questions whether or not you truly ever know the person who lives next door to you. From the story plot to the incredible acting, it definitely brings something new to the overdone genre. Season 2 is out but still not available on Netflix.

 Bloodline (Season 1)

The Rayburn family has an established reputation in their Florida Keys community. When the black sheep son returns home, he threatens to reveal the family’s deep dark secrets and a past that lurks around each family member everyday. It’s such a unique story and again, the acting is spectacular.

The Fall (Season 1 & 2)


I have to admit, I did start watching this show because of Scully, I mean the brilliant Gillian Anderson, who’s one badass in this psychological thriller. Stella Gibson (played by Anderson) investigates a series of murders in Belfast, Ireland, which are all linked to the killer Paul Spector (played by Jamie Dornan). They have renewed for a third season so better get on it stat!

Freaks & Geeks (2 Seasons)


If you haven’t watched Freaks and Geeks, then this should be at the top of your list. Before James Franco and Seth Rogen became the high profiled actors/comedians they are today, it all started with this show created by Paul Feig and Jud Apatow. Set in 1980, this cult classic showcases the different social cliques in high school. I still can’t believe this show got cancelled. Dallas Rules!

Damages (5 Seasons)


If you’re into law dramas then Damages is the show for you. The incredible Glenn Close plays one of the best lawyers in New York (Patty Hewes) who teams up with a recent law school graduate, Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), where they take on a different case each season.

Derek (Seasons 1 & 2 plus a special)


Ricky Gervais fans will want to watch this mockumentary. Ricky plays Derek, a nursing home caretaker who is a fan of reality shows. From his awkwardness to childlike mannerisms, Derek will bring you to tears.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 1)


If you’re a fan of 30 Rock then this is a show you should definitely watch. After leaving a cult, Schmidt ventures off to New York where she experiences life and meets hilarious people along the way. Created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, you know to expect nothing but high quality humour. Plus the jabs at NBC and the ridiculous stereotypes are just an icing on the cake.

Happy Valley (Season 1)

Happy Valley

After Catherine Wood’s (played by Sarah Lancashire) family is left in shambles after the death of her daughter, the person responsible for her death gets released from prison. I don’t know what it is about British shows, but they always do it right!

Wentworth (Season 1 & 2)

Wenworth S2 Generics

Move over Orange is The New Black, there’s a new prison show on Netflix. This Australian crime/drama centers on Bea Smith trying to cope with the dynamics of prison life after being charged with attempted murder on her husband.

Undeclared (Season 1)


After Freaks & Geeks came Undeclared. Before Charlie Hunnam was in a motorcycle “club” he was Jay Baruchel’s college roommate. This half-hour comedy centers around 6-college freshman trying to survive their first year. Don’t be surprised if you see many cameo appearances by actors who look a “little” familiar.

Have any other shows to recommend? Tweet us @novellamagazine giving us your suggestions. Use #novellamag on social media so we know which one of our shows you’ve started watching!