30 TV Shows About Black Life and Joy and Where to Watch Them
While series like "Friends," "The Office," and "Parks and Recreation" — shows in which white characters simply exist for the sake of escapism and laughs — have existed since the advent of television, similar series depicting life in Black America are few and far between. Too often, Black TV characters come from broken families and violent backgrounds, while scripts read as though they're attempting to explain Blackness to a non-Black demographic. Watching shows written about you but not for you is exhausting.
Just like everyone else, Black people experience love and loss, makeups and breakups, high school crushes, and friendship drama. Yet our stories are often stripped of any depth, left only to revolve around what non-Black people think Black life is like. So because Black Joy, Black authors, and Black creators should be celebrated all year round (not just on Black holidays like Black History Month and Juneteenth), here are 30 sitcoms, dramas, and animes about Black people just . . . being — no explanation needed.
"A Black Lady Sketch Show"
A comedy sketch show written, directed, and performed by Black women, "A Black Lady Sketch Show" aims to fill a major representation gap in the entertainment industry. Featuring well-known guest stars like Angela Bassett and Laverne Cox, the show tackles everything from sex to religion to anxiety.
Watch "A Black Lady Sketch Show" on HBO Max now.
"A Different World"
A 1993 spinoff of "The Cosby Show", "A Different World" follows young adults as they navigate the world on their own for the first time at historically Black college and university Hillman College. Ahead of its time compared to its counterparts, the sitcom tackled political, ethical, racial, emotional, and social issues from the perspective of educated Black youth.
Watch "A Different World" on Amazon Prime now.
"Being Mary Jane"
BET's first hour-long scripted drama, "Being Mary Jane" features Gabrielle Union as a successful news anchor discovering who she is and what is important to her.
Watch "Being Mary Jane" on Hulu now.
A superhero drama from The CW network, "Black Lightning" follows Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) as he makes the tough decision to return to his past life of vigilantism in order to protect his family.
Watch "Black Lightening" on Netflix now.
In this anime series, immortal fugitive Philly the Kid and his transforming pink Cadillac, friendship robot S.A.M., and outdated repair robot Casey Turnbuckle explore all corners of the fantastic land of Gearbolt in effort to reunite two best friends.
Watch "Cannon Busters" on Netflix now.
Devout 24-year-old Tracey Gordon is on a mission to better discover herself and the world . . . starting with losing her virginity. (If you only know Michaela Coel from her brilliant series "I May Destroy You", please go back and watch this.)
Watch "Chewing Gum" on HBO Max now.
"Class of 3000"
Created by rapper André 3000 of OutKast, this short-lived animated series chronicles the adventures of a group of music students and their whimsical teacher, Sunny Bridges.
Watch "Class of 3000" on iTunes now.
"Everybody Hates Chris"
An American sitcom based on the experiences of a teenaged Chris Rock, "Everybody Hates Chris" follows the comedian and his unconventional family as they survive 1980s Brooklyn. With his popular brother Drew (Tequan Richmond), spoiled sister Tonya (Imani Hakim), frugal father Julius (Terry Crews), feisty mom Rochelle (Tichina Arnold), and best friend Greg (Vincent Martella) by his side, Chris navigates public school, girl troubles, and the plight of being a young, Black man from the projects.
Watch "Everybody Hates Chris" on Hulu now.
Over the course of its nine-season run, "Family Matters" brought the reality of the Black, middle-class family to masses. The series introduced us to the Winslow family, following them through hilarious misadventures largely caused by their nerdy (and iconic) neighbor Steve Urkel.
Watch "Family Matters" on Hulu now.
"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
One of the most popular Black sitcoms to date, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" features a young Will Smith, playing a character of the same name, as he leaves his poor Pennsylvania neighborhood to move in with his wealthy, extended family in Bel-Air.
Watch "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" on HBO Max now.
Four friends tackle the ups-and-downs of life together. Featuring an ensemble cast of talented Black women (Tracee Ellis Ross, Persia White, Jill Marie Jones, and Golden Brooks), "Girlfriends" celebrates the dynamic female friendships that keep Black women afloat when the rest of the world lets them down.
Watch "Girlfriends" on Netflix now.
A comedic drama series created by the talented Issa Rae, "Insecure" chronicles the triumphs and tribulations of the modern-day Black woman. Predated only by "Girlfriends" in terms of the female-centered plot, the show is groundbreaking when it comes to representation and normalizing Blackness.
Watch "Insecure" on HBO Max now.
"Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts"
A mutant attack forces the sheltered Kipo Oak to brave a post-apocalyptic world in search of her father.
Watch "Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts" on Netflix now.
A precursor to the popular show "Friends", "Living Single" follows six single 20-somethings through life from their Brooklyn brownstone. Starring the legendary Queen Latifah, "Living Single" ran for five hilarious seasons on Fox.
Watch "Living Single" on Hulu now.
Starring "My Wife and Kids" Tisha Campbell, "Everybody Hates Chris" Tichina Arnold, and half of "Bad Boys" duo Matin Lawrence, "Martin" is a quintessential '90s sitcom following a wise-cracking radio host, his loved ones, and the shenanigans they find themselves a part of.
Watch "Martin" on BET+ now.
A teenager dealing with school, boy trouble, and everything else life throws her way, Moesha (Brandy Norwood) must adjust to the an addition to the household: her teacher-turned-step-mom, Dee (Sheryl Lee Ralph).
Watch "Moesha" on Netflix now.
"My Wife and Kids"
Another wholesome and hilarious representation of the middle-class, Black family, "My Wife and Kids" is the story of Michael (Damon Wayans) and wife Jay (Tisha Campbell-Martin) raising three children with big personalities in suburban Connecticut.
Watch "My Wife and Kids" on Amazon Prime Video now.
"One on One"
Running for an entertaining five seasons, "One on One" follows newly single father (Flex Alexander) and teenage daughter Breanna (Kyla Pratt) as they settle into their new family dynamic.
Watch "One on One" on Netflix now.
"The Proud Family"
An Disney Channel original sitcom, "The Proud Family" is an animated series about 14-year-old Penny Proud (Kyla Pratt) and her quirky family. Though the series wrapped up over 15 years ago, now is the perfect time to catch up, because the sequel, "The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder", is set to make its debut on Disney+ later this year.
Watch "The Proud Family" on Disney+.
One of few science-fiction stories with a primarily Black cast, "Raising Dion" is the story of a single mother's quest to keep her superhuman son's powers under wraps. Much like Sony's "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse", "Raising Dion" allows kids of color the opportunity to see themselves as superheroes, too.
Watch "Raising Dion" on Netflix now.
"She's Gotta Have It"
Based on director Spike Lee's 1986 film of the same name, "She's Gotta Have It" follows artist Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) as she balances her work with her friends with her lovers. The only challenge? She's got three of them.
Watch "She's Gotta Have It" on Netflix now.
Identical twins separated at birth, Tia and Tamera (Tia and Tamera Mowry) run into each other at a popular clothing store in the mall. Under persistent pressure from the girls, their reluctant adoptive parents agree to move together in so that they can continue to grow as a family. Problems arise when everyone realizes that identical looks do not mean identical personalities.
Watch "Sister, Sister" on Netflix now.
"That's So Raven"
Being a teenage girl is hard. Being a teenage girl with supernatural powers is even harder. "That's So Raven" follows the psychic Raven Baxter, her friends, and her family as her visions get them into comedic antics that no one is prepared for. The first Disney Channel series to produce a spinoff, "That's So Raven" paved the way for "Cory in the House" and, eventually, "Raven's Home". Tackling issues from body image to racism, the sitcom was a groundbreaking series for the time.
Watch "That's So Raven" on Disney+ now.
A spinoff of "Moesha", "The Parkers" features mother Nikki (Mo'Nique), daughter Kim (Countess Vaughn), and the comedic misfortunes that ensue when the two enroll in the same community college.
Watch "The Parkers" on Netflix now.
"The Wayans Bros."
Starring real life brothers Shawn and Marlon Wayans, "The Wayans Bros." is a classic sitcom following two complete opposite siblings as they experience life in New York City and get involved in wacky schemes daily.
Watch "The Wayans Bros." on HBO Max now.
Written by Kenya Barris, "Black-ish" follows the comedic misadventures of the Johnsons, an upper-middle-class Black family, as they navigate through social and political issues as a Black family in America. The critically-acclaimed series features a star-studded cast including Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, and Jenifer Lewis.
Watch "Black-ish" on Hulu now.
A spinoff of "Black-ish," "Grown-ish" follows the life of the Johnson family's eldest daughter, Zoey, as she heads to college. Entering the real world on her own, Zoey must navigate through grown-up problems as she realizes not everything in life will go her way. In the show's fifth season, Zoey's little brother Junior (played by Marcus Scribner) joins the show as a regular.
Watch "Grown-ish" on Hulu now.
"Tyler Perry's House of Payne"
"Tyler Perry's House of Payne" revolves around a multi-generational family living in one house in Atlanta, led by hilarious patriarch Curtis and his loving wife, Ella Payne.
Watch "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" on Hulu now.
"The Bernie Mac Show"
Playing a character of the same name, "The Bernie Mac Show" follows comedian Bernie Mac as he and his wife, Wanda, reluctantly and unexpectedly step into the role of parents to his sister's three kids when she enters rehab. The series follows Bernie's comedic journey to discipline the children while giving them a sense of stability and a loving home.
Watch "The Bernie Mac Show" on Hulu now.
"Half & Half"
"Half & Half" focuses on the lives of half-sisters Dee Dee and Mona in their twenties as they endeavor to develop a close relationship after being separated during childhood.
Watch "Half & Half" on Netflix now.