Top Black Action TV Shows of The Last Decade
Updated: Mar 30
TV Shows aren't just "TV Shows" any more these days. With the "Golden Age of TV" in the 2000's to the present, TV Productions are rivaled (if not more expensive with multiple episodes) to Film Productions. And with the pandemic, they are the main (and currently only) attraction for global mainstream narrative consumption. We've all heard of Black Action Films. But what about Black Action TV Shows? Not a topic widely discussed. So here is a short list of notable shows featuring "Black Action Stars":
Luke Cage (2016)
Premiering in 2016, following his appearance on Jessica Jones (2015), Luke Cage was a force to be reckoned with in the MCU (Netflix TV universe). Luke Cage is a superhero byproduct of a sabotaged experiment that gave him super human strength and unbreakable skin. His powers and ability are not that interesting but in the context of modern day Harlem, he is something of a hero figure and icon for misguided youth and the social messages of his presence in the community is something to be heralded. The series feels like a hip-hop western/neo-blaxploitation genre mashup and given that most of the writers were Black or Greek, they understood the world well and gave it a very authentic and lived-in feel.
Luke Cage was cancelled after 2 seasons and is available to stream on Netflix. Catch Luke in The Defenders, as well, also on Netflix.
Black Lightning (2018)
I'll admit, I gave up on the "Arrowverse" (the connected universe of CW DC TV series) a long time ago but seeing clips and trailers of this show, I wish I hadn't. Part of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman, and Superman & Lois, Black Lightning was the 4th series of this interconnected universe and, simply, probably the coolest one. Black Lightning (Jefferson Pierce) is a metahuman with the inborn ability to generate and manipulate electricity. The premise of this series stands out because Jefferson is a middle aged school teacher who doesn't have the bright eyed optimism of younger heroes but a more grizzled and experienced approach. The series is praised for it's sharp writing and fantastic family dynamic. I'll have to start watching this one.
Black Lightning Seasons 1-3 are available to stream on Netflix. Season 4 is available on the CW.
When I heard Watchmen was getting an HBO series with Damon Lindelof as the showrunner, I was ecstatic. He is a very daring and insightful writer and I knew he would bring something different to the table. After watching the series, I was blown away with what I had seen. Watchmen tackles huge social and political issues with such poignancy but makes it thoroughly entertaining to watch. The series isn't technically "Black Action" since the majority of the cast is not Black. But you can make the argument that our "main characters" are people of color and that (spoilers) Dr. Manhattan is a black character. Also, Regina King kicks freaking butt in this series and is such a dramatic presence anywhere she is. So there's that.
Watchmen is streaming now on HBO Max.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021)
Again, technically not all black cast, but our main hero is Black so I'll take it. Anthony Mackie first appeared in the MCU as Sam Wilson aka The Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and has reprised his role in every Avengers film since. Now, he and Bucky Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan, take center stage in their own limited event series on Disney+. It's been a trying time for movies and cinemas around the world and the cinematic respite of The Mandalorian, WandaVision, and now The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will be welcome breaths of fresh air for our collective anxiety. Anthony Mackie has been busy this year with Outside the Wire and now this series. So, it'll be fun to watch him take flight yet again.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's first episode is available to stream on Disney+.
Other upcoming Black Action TV Shows will be Blade (2022), which starts production later this year and The Untitled Wakanda series still in development right now from Ryan Coogler's team over at Marvel Studios and will be airing on Disney+. So lots of stuff to look forward to on the TV front.