5 shows i want to see on TV
1) A queer love story centering two Black women that has an engaging plot line that exists beyond coming-out to the world and/or their families. Queer people in the show are played by people who are queer in real life. In the show it would be preferable if one or both of them were raised broke and are adjusting to having money. In the reboot, maybe their expressions of stud-ness and femme-ness are renegotiated, but in Season One it’s perceivably a stud-femme relationship. Maybe one of them is a T.A. in grad school who is in a battle to reclaim stolen intellectual property (or a patent!) from someone with more power and notoriety. The other struggles to preserve the rights of sex workers by organizing fellow dancers at her club to open their own womanist strip club. The scenes portraying the love of the two main characters are not performed for the male gaze. There is a range of sensuality and sexuality that is not created for juxtaposition to straightness—it just is. There are contradictions and messiness in their relationship roles. They struggle with things like finding new friends, having separate lives/not using the singular “we”, trying to figure out if they’re a poly couple, interrogating why their doctors don’t listen to them about their bodies, questioning how to actually raise a child without assigning them a gender, and feeling like the oldest people at queer parties in their city even though they’re only in their late twenties. Maybe one of them has an incredible sense of smell and the other has a habit of holding her lover’s face in her hands and asking with genuine curiosity, “what are you thinking about?” There will be plenty of scenes of them doing normal ass things in their own way—detangling an afro from the end to the root in front of an open laptop on Sundays, calling a mama to make sure that the recipedoes actually call for the amount of butter she said the first time, dumping water from the dehumidifier, being referred to as ‘friends’ at certain holiday gatherings with family elders, bumming a cigarette when drunk, grinding teeth at night, talking about the ‘hit or miss’ nature of acupuncture, and the joy of getting either of their names pronounced correctly in public by others on the first try. When they have sex, the camera does not preemptively turn or fast-forward or shy away. Extra points if there is more than one episode showing how they fell in love. Extra extra points if the show doesn’t end with them breaking up and/or if the show goes on, continuing to feature them both as they heal after they separate.
2) A “this is what it used to be” documentary-type show that tours historically Black neighborhoods now suffering from gentrification across the United States. The show unearths the histories of fantastic, normal-ass Black people who used to live there. Episodes will include: San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Austin, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Harlem, and Washington D.C. Weekly episodes would be one hour long and feature historians as well as relatives of people who used to live in communities that are now predominately white and upper middle class. Semi-famous black folks with roots in these neighborhoods or memories of growing up there would be featured every now and then talking about how the Blackness of that place inspired their work. Anti-gentrification organizers and long-time residents would be centered on the shows as a means to connect the struggles of each city. Parts of the show would feature segments of former Black residents responding to/interacting with the current absurdity of the gentrified community (i.e. the San Francisco episode would feature my grandmother walking through what used to be Fillmore stopping into each of the shops declaring, ‘Oh another one!’ as she crosses the threshold into another specialty sock/backpack/travel supply shop, close-up on her face as she learns what boba is and folds it out of her mouth discreetly into a napkin, close-up on her snatching her glasses off angrily as she looks at the price tags on monochromatic clothing in chic stores on Valencia Street close to where the projects used to be, or follow her while she is touring a newly built studio priced at a million dollars overlooking the water and ruins of the old PG&E plant down the street from where she grew up—when she says, ‘I never thought I’d see the day when…’ you can hear the echo bouncing off the ceiling through the empty building).
3) A semi-sci-fi show that follows kids who have survived trauma into their adulthoods as they realize that they’ve gained ‘superpowers’. After being the caretaker to one of her parents, one kid (much like Octavia Butler’s Lauren Olamina) develops the power of hyper-empathy, wincing and aching whenever someone close to her is in physical or emotional pain. Another kid, after surviving a traumatic experience, develops a sixth sense of sorts, being able to anticipate at any given moment the possibility of what could go terribly wrong—he’s only right half the time. Another kid can read people’s minds and adjust himself based on their perceptions of him, thus gaining the trust of adults and popularity and acceptance of others in his class, despite not being able to do so in his home with his family of origin. Each of these kids grows, not fully recognizing their relationship to their gifts until they’re adults and run ragged by the constant maintenance they require (whether through self-medicating, somatic therapy, or thrill seeking). They balance courage and fear of healing the wounds that created their superpowers, afraid of who they will be if the wounds close, afraid that their gifts are the only things that make them who they are. Each time they embody a positive coping mechanism without losing themselves, they develop new superpowers that exist outside of their wounds, with no strings attached. In Season 4, after healing, they struggle with the new obstacle of boredom.
4) An avant-guard-ish show that tests the limits of camera work by way of centering on a protagonist who has chronic anxiety. The camera seems to act as a vexing fruit fly—getting too close to the face of the protagonist during anxiety attacks, or hovering at a weird angle overhead in the shower when shame pounces on them through the recollection of a distant memory of something they did once a long time ago, or sitting on their chest as they try to breathe deeply to get to sleep (despite insomnia) at night. We accompany our protagonist in their odd message dreams and in their delusions, as the world turns sideways after self-medicating with psychedelics. Our protagonist begins asking, then interviewing people in their family of origin about ‘feelings’. They begin to trace ‘the feelings’ back as far as the oldest person in their family can remember. In a dream they receive a message from an ancestor instructing them how to heal themselves and several generations of ancestors too. They struggle to believe what’s been shared with them and battle with the implications of what they must do.
5) A series that follows several plotlines unfolding at one intersection in a city. In the show, often times our vantage point is a bus stop or a corner liquor store or a fried chicken spot or just a place where old heads sit and watch the day go by (with or without a domino table or a chess/checker board). While the camera may move around to the three other corners of the intersection, zooming, focusing, straying, or looking over it’s own shoulder, everything we see, hear or need to know (or don’t need to know), happens at the corner. There are holes in backgrounds of the plot, half-told stories, vigils, and all kinds of news shared on the one corner. The show plays with the limitation(s) and fullness of looking out at the world from one single place.