1. Pose (2018-2021)
“Pose” revives the historical narrative of underground ballroom culture in New York, a lesser-known community that is dominated by LGBTQ POC where voguing first originated and was later popularized by Madonna’s song “Vogue.” The FX drama, written by Ryan Murphy, touches on several themes including sexuality, love and loss, and blood family versus chosen family.
The series brings the conversation to the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis which has disproportionately affected people of color and the LGBTQ community. An issue not regularly discussed in the mainstream media. The show not only tears apart stereotypes revolving around the LGBTQ community and the HIV/AIDS epidemic but spotlights the discrimination and violence toward transgender people. For example. the show deliberately killed off one of the main cast members, a transgender woman, in order to illustrate the severity of the issue.
Upon the show’s first announcement in 2017, it was revealed that “Pose” would break television records, highlighting the largest cast of transgender actors as series regulars: Indya Moore as Angel Evangelista, MJ Rodriguez as Blanca Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson as Elektra Abundance Evangelista, Hailie Sahar as Lulu Ferocity and Angelica Ross as Candy Ferocity. Other cast members include Billy Porter, Evan Peters and Sandra Bernhard.
“Pose” has won 23 awards and was nominated for 72 so far, including Outstanding Drama Series for the 2019 Primetime Emmy Awards and Best Television Series — Drama for the 2019 USA Golden Globes.
The first two episodes of “Pose”‘s third and final season premiered Sunday, May 2. The rest of the episodes of the seven-episode season will debut every Sunday on FX at 10 p.m. PT.
“Pose” was released in 2018. Season 1 and 2 are available to stream on Netflix or for purchase on Prime Video.
2. P-Valley (2020-)
“P-Valley” is an accurate, heart-throttling, new portrayal of southern strip club culture in the Mississippi Delta.
Salaciously witty, the eight-episode, STARZ original series, captures the ascent and descent of the lives of the women who rule The Pynk, a centrally located strip club in the Bible Belt town of Chucalissa.
The story was originally dubbed “Pussy-Valley” in the 2015 theater production inspiring the “P-valley” namesake. Creator Katori Hall described her writing as “more about place than race.”
In the series, Hall and the staff of all-female directors do a remarkable job providing authenticity to the multi-layered characters and settings including educating audiences on the importance of providing, as Hall puts it, “sheheroes [a] story, agency and complication.”
Filled with romance, slang usage, poverty, floss-finery and domestic violence, the series aims to represent the day-to-day lives of the “boss bitch” and individuals working at The Pynk.
Wealth inequality, prejudice and family also play important roles throughout the first season, sometimes framing the motivations for the women and explaining how it might evoke strength.
Look out for original music from Lil Murda, played by J. Alphonse Nicholson. If by the end of the series you’re not randomly singing “M-I-crooked-letter-crooked-letter-I- crooked-letter-crooked-letter-I -humpback-humpback-I” from the banger ‘Mississippi Pride’ performed by Keyshawn, played by Shannon Thornton, then double-check to make sure you are still watching “P-Valley.”
With plot twists as fast as the dancers on the stage, keep watch to find out if Uncle Clifford, played by Nicco Annan and her family of women, including Brandee Evans as Mercedes, and Elarica Johnson playing Hailey, make enough “skrilla” to bail the second-generation family business out of imminent foreclosure.
Audiences should expect “P-Valley” season 2 to release sometime in late 2021 or early 2022, barring any production delays.
Watch it on STARZ or Hulu.
3. Ramy (2019-)
Looking for a new dark comedy obsession? “Ramy” may be just that. This Hulu original depicts a young Muslim American who struggles to find a middle ground between being a typical millennial and a dedicated man of Islam.
The “Ramy” story can be reminiscent of the experiences of many, across a large variety of religions and ethnicities. Whether it be the family dynamics or the questioning of morality in the modern world, there are specific situations for the characters to which the general public may find relatable.
The show has a dedication to showing glimpses into the life and culture of Muslim Americans. This is something that has not really been shown in American media until the show was released in 2019, but it’s refreshing to see and gives hope for a more diverse future in film and television.
Ramy Youssef’s performance in “Ramy” won a Golden Globe in 2019 for “Best Actor in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy.”
Watch it on Hulu.
4. Ted Lasso (2020-)
If “pure delight” were a television show, it would be “Ted Lasso.” Jason Sudeikis stars in the Apple TV+ original sports comedy series that takes an American football coach all the way to the United Kingdom to train a premier soccer team.
“Ted Lasso,” both the show and the character, is possibly one of the most wholesome things on television in recent years. In fact, Screen Rant ranked Ted Lasso as #4 on their list of 10 Best TV Wholesome TV Shows That Will Lift Your Spirits saying, “For anyone in need of some higher spirits and some laughs, this Golden Globe winner should be next on their list.”
Between the quirky nature of the show and amusing subplots, there are themes of grief, friendship and belonging. “Ted Lasso” is extremely likable and demonstrates the true power of optimism.
In February, Sudeikis won a Golden Globe for his performance in “Ted Lasso” in the category “Best Actor in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy.”
Season 1 is available to stream on Apple TV+. Season 2 will launch July 23, which Apple confirmed at their spring event in March.