Holiday TV watching doesn’t have to just be Christmas movies, college bowl games, NFL or NBA showdowns. The good thing about the season is most of us have the time. So why not use it on some of these recommended binges?
The BMF Documentary: Blowing Money Fast (STARZ)
Mood (BBC America/AMC)
With season two of BMF upon us, it’s hard to separate TV from reality and reality from TV, which is why The BMF Documentary: Blowing Money Fast is so necessary. For those unfamiliar with the backstory behind Starz’s 50-Cent-produced hit series, this eight-episode docuseries is a must-watch. There are even revelations for those who think they know. Being able to match the real people with the actors playing them beyond just Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory Sr. (handled by his son Demetrius Flenory Jr.) and his brother Terry “Southwest T” Flenory (rising star Da’Vinchi) won’t be that hard. Casting, as the doc shows, is on point with many BMF actors not only bearing strong resemblances to the real-life players but also capturing critical mannerisms. So much of the rise and fall of the drug empire that crisscrossed multiple states is wilder than fiction. Not only does the doc reveal how the cops caught BMF, Meech also weighs in from prison. There is no happy ending, but there is a great deal of insight.
For a few years now, Black creators in the UK have been mixing drama and urban music in the vein of Beyoncé’s Carmen: A Hip Hopera. Mood, from the creative mind of Nicóle Lecky, is one of the most notable. The six-episode series is about Sasha, an aspiring singer and rapper who gets trapped by social media, first as an influencer, then as something far more dark and threatening. The story, which also digs deep into Sasha’s adolescence, explores the exploitation of young girls as well as how they can be empowered. Lecky, who writes, produces, and stars in Mood, as well as serves as executive music producer, began this journey back in 2018 on the stage with her one-woman play Superhoe. A very right now binge, with the sounds to boot, Mood gives a young Black, biracial British woman a voice to tell her story, her way.
Riches (PRIME VIDEO)
Led by the beautiful Howard alum Deborah Ayorinde, there is much to love about the six-episode Prime Video series Riches.First off, it’s set in London and revolves around a British Nigerian haircare and beauty empire. Second, the patriarch has died and left his first set of kids, Ayorinde’s Nina Richards and her brother Simon, in charge, angering his mistress-turned-second wife Claudia (Sarah Niles recognized as Ted Lasso’s Dr. Sharon Fieldstone) who believes she and her children—Alesha, Gus, and Wanda—have been robbed. Ruling a company in a minefield of haters is a difficult task but Nina is up for the challenge. It’s the way Riches’ British Nigerian creator Abby Ajayi, whose American credits include How To Get Away With Murder and Inventing Anna, built her. Beautiful people, high living, sexy encounters, family backstabbing, Black hair and more is a recipe for a fun-filled time full of surprises and unexpected twists.
The Best Man: The Final Chapters (Peacock)
If you haven’t started or finished yet, stop delaying! This is the gift you didn’t know you needed or even expected. When The Best Man entered the Black Film Hall of Fame back in 1999, who knew it would still get us so stirred up over 20 years later? All the gang—with the exception of Monica Calhoun’s Mia who sadly passed away in 2013's The Best Man Holiday—is reunited over eight episodes. That’s Morris Chestnut’s Lance, Taye Diggs’ Harper, Terrence Howard’s Quentin, Harold Perrineau’s Murch, Nia Long’s Jordan, Melissa De Sousa’s Shelby, Sanaa Lathan’s Robyn and Regina Hall’s Candace, with some new additions like Nicole Ari Parker. Lance is grieving Mia and sleeping with every woman that moves. Harper has a chance to bring his first novel, Unfinished Business, to the big screen and wants everyone’s blessing, but is more concerned with his friends’ feelings than those of his wife Robyn. Quentin (yes that Quentin) is getting married. To whom is the question!! Murch and Candace run their own school but are going through individual growing pains. Jordan is Jordan bossing up the place at MSNBC. And Shelby being inappropriately Shelby is as delicious as ever. Then most of them are parenting. So there’s more than enough to keep you entertained. And trust, if you wait a minute longer, you will be holding your ears and eyes to block out the many spoilers instead of joining the conversation!
Reasonable Doubt (ONYX Collective on HULU)
From her Scandal days, Kerry Washington knows a thing or two about a Black woman attorney being able to fix the impossible. And that shows with Reasonable Doubt, the first scripted show from the ONYX Collective where she serves as executive producer and even directed the first episode. Created by behind-the-scenes Scandal alum Raamla Mohamed, Reasonable Doubt, which spans nine episodes,stars Emayatzy Corinealdi as superstar criminal defense attorney Jax Stewart. But the action isn’t just in the courtroom; Jax is also a wife and mother, not to mention a daughter dealing with her own mother played by the phenomenal Pauletta Washington. Still, most of the drama comes from her juggling three men for different reasons: her husband Lewis (Queen Sugar’s McKinley Freeman) has separated from her; she’s reconnected with one of her first clients and possible love Damon (Michael Ealy) who has been released after a nearly 20-year prison sentence; and she’s defending a Black billionaire Brayden Miller (Till’s Sean Patrick Thomas) married to a white woman who has been accused of murdering his Black mistress. So the drama is overflowing.
Shaq (HBO/HBO MAX)
NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal’s four-part docuseries Shaq just might surprise even his most loyal fans. It covers so much ground without ever getting dull. Part of that is due to Shaq’s brutal honesty about himself during pivotal moments in both his career and personal life. At times, the transparency is just astounding as he discusses the ins and outs of his many career clashes with such well-known figures as Penny Hardaway, Kobe Bryant, and even Pat Riley. He also sheds some light on his personal life, especially the role he played in the demise of his most critical relationships, as well as not always being there for his children. His tough love stepfather Sgt. Phil Harrison who loved him as his own, pouring life lessons and basketball greatness into him, his mother, Dr. Lucille O’Neal, and his siblings are other key figures. Leaving few stones unturned, the DJ and ultimate pitchman even has something for the business-minded, as he shares his secrets to branding and corporate success.
Surface (Apple TV+)
In this eight-episode first season of the Apple TV+ series Surface, Loki star Gugu Mbatha-Raw leads the thrills. In it, she plays Sophie, a rich man’s wife in the very white world of high stakes investment banking who has lost her memory after an alleged suicide attempt. Consequently, she feels like a stranger in her own life, not remembering her husband, presumed close friends and business associates, or lover Baden (If Beale Street Could Talk star Stephan James). Sessions with her therapist Hannah (Without A Trace and Takers’ Marianne Jean-Baptiste) don’t help as quickly as she wants. When certain clues start coming together, however, Sophie must face the fact that she may not be as innocent or as kind as she hoped. Even more shocking, she may not even go by the name Sophie. It’s a psychological thriller full of self-revelation and reflection. And the good news is a second season is in the works!