The fall season of television is here, and we have much to be proud of. Newcomers like Jussie Smollett (Empire), Yara Shahidi (Black-ish) and Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow) are taking the small screen by storm, while more seasoned Black actors and actresses are making history: just last night, Viola Davis won an Emmy for her role in How to Get Away with Murder, the first Black woman to win Best Lead Actress on a Drama Series!
Equally impressive is the presence of Black writers, producers and directors like Shonda Rhimes, Mara Brock Akil and Lee Daniels. From behind the scenes, these producers all craft excellence, and the success of their projects is immeasurable. As we get into a new and highly anticipated fall season of television this week, may the presence of Black people, on screen and off, be abundant.
Here’s to continued efforts towards diversity in television. Happy watching, y’all!—Felice León
Minority Report, the spin-off series based on Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi film, takes place in 2065: 10 years after the events of the movie. This television drama is told from the perspective of three precogs (precognitives)—Dash (Stark Sands), his twin brother, Arthur (Nick Zano) and their foster sister, Agatha (Laura Regan)—who are essentially psychics, able to see the future and use their powers to prevent crime.
Lara Vega (Meagan Good) plays the leading role as a detective, and with the precogs assistance, attempts to stop predicted murders before they happen. Our shero will face some bumps, including her challenging boss, Will Blake (Wilmer Valderrama). Here it’s safe to say that they have a tenuous relationship, at best. Minority Report premiers tonight at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr. (Morris Chestnut) is the top private pathologist in Miami. Essentially, he helps police solve crimes, but the optimistic doctor suffers from many health problems—including a pair of holes in his heart—but this is no deterrent. Annalise Villa (Jaina Lee Ortiz) is the tough detective who works alongside Rosewood, and together they create a crime-solving duo. Based on the witty banter and overt physical attraction, we can foresee a love interest in the works. Only time will tell. Rosewood debuts September 23 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.
You’ve played a part well when an audience often identifies you with a specific character. This is exactly the case of Taraji P. Henson… or shall we say Cookie? The television drama Empire, created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, is back for a highly anticipated second season. Brace yourselves for more of the tumult that a burgeoning hip-hop empire will yield. And some. If season one was at all indicative of the forthcoming season, then Terrence Howard, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers and Bryshere Gray will all serve. Popcorn please. Aside from the Lyon family, the cast will be joined by star-studded guests Naomi Campbell, Al Sharpton, Chris Rock, Pitbull, Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Don Lemon, Swiss Beats and Vivica A. Fox, to name a few. The new season of Empire begins on September 23 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
How to Get Away with Murder
We love Viola Davis! The Oscar-nominated, Tony-winning actress has recently received another accolade: an Emmy. Davis won the award last night for Best Lead Actress on a Drama Series in ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder. The best part: Viola Davis is the first Black woman to receive this honor. Yep, she’s made history. Check out the Emmy-Award winner as Annalise Keating in the hit Shondaland drama. The season premieres September 24 at 10p.m. ET on ABC.
The show responsible for the #TGIT (thank goodness it’s Thursday) hashtag has retuned. Season five of Scandal promises to be “twisty crazy goodness,” according to its trailer (which is primarily an edited sex scene). And naturally, as a ShondaLand Production™, we expect that this season will bring the heat. Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) will continue to serve as an aide to the White House, keeping us at the edge of our seats wheeling and dealing in Washington, D.C. Season five premieres on September 24 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
Being Mary Jane
Mary Jane Paul (Gabrielle Union) lives a life that so many successful, ambitious Black women can relate to. Awesome career—check. Worldly possessions—check. Mr. Right—not so much. Balancing commitments of personal, professional and familial nature is tricky, and Mary Jane is not exempt of the tragedy or triumph; she’s on a journey of self-discovery.
Created by Mara Brock Akil, Being Mary Jane returns for another season and will star Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy) and singer Jill Scott. Viewers, please expect lots of twists and turns, as season two ended with Mary Jane in a car accident. Bring. It. On. Season three premieres October 20 at 9 p.m. on BET.
Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce
You already know! Backed by her “shake team,” Big Freedia the queen diva takes on the world (and reality TV). Her journey is chronicled on Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce. In previous seasons, the queen has gotten quite personal—we’ve watched Freedia embark on her first U.S. tour and even go through the pain of losing her mother. This season promises to be just as intimate: Freedia writes her memoir, faces her baby-I-want-you-back ex and travels to Berlin. Big Freedia, you’re the real MVP! Season four premieres on September 30 at 11 p.m. ET on Fuse.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Earlier this year, Comedy Central announced that South African stand-up comedian Trevor Noah would be taking over The Daily Show for Jon Stewart. The day has finally come. Well, sort of. The 31-year-old will begin his antics on The Daily Show in a few short days. As a biracial comedian, we can expect discussions of identity, race and all things funny. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah premiers September 28 on Comedy Central.
The Johnson family is back. Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson), his wife Rainbow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross) and their family will navigate the social issues that Black upper-middle class families face while attempting to maintain their Blackness. First-up: the N-word. That’s right, season two will venture to address the N-word in its premiere – check out the teaser here. Executive produced by Laurence Fishburne and Anthony Anderson amongst others, the second season of Black-ish will most certainly be a humorous take on many hard-to-swallow issues that well-to-do Black families often encounter. Season two premieres September 23 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
It’s been far too long since we’ve seen Wesley Snipes on television. Good news: 2015 is the year of Snipes’s return. This fall, Wesley Snipes plays Mr. Johnson in the action-packed television drama, The Player. It’s no surprise that Snipes would take on this sort of role given his affinity for action films. (Lest we forget, the Blade franchise set off the entire Marvel movie empire). Set in Las Vegas, the series co-stars Philip Winchester (Strike Back) and Charity Wakefield (The Raven). The Player premiers on September 24 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
On Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, Nicole Beharie takes on the role of Lt. Grace Abigail “Abbie” Mills, and for a third season will lead the charge. Beharie co-stars with Tom Mison, who plays Captain Ichabod Crane. This season promises to be full of mystery and horror in the spirit of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the story from which the series was inspired. Season three of Sleepy Hollow airs on October 1 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and the rest of the Muppet squad have made it to primetime, again. The Muppets is dedicated to the nostalgic flavor of The Muppet Show (1976-81), with a taste for dry humor. If any Muppet reality television show were gonna be possible, this would be the one. Here, the Muppets all work towards a common goal: developing the show, Up Late with Miss Piggy. Put the kiddies to bed, The Muppets is sort of “an adult Muppet show,” as described by Kermit in the trailer. And rightfully so, especially as the series discusses some pretty “adult” topics, like relationships: Fozzie the bear dates a human, and Kermit’s has a new (pig) girlfriend, Denise. (It's not the blackest show on this list, but who doesn't love Muppets?) The Muppets premieres on September 22 at 8p.m. ET on ABC.