As 2017 comes to a close, there have been so many different web series that have premiered with new content. From characters dealing with sexual identity and mental health issues to “bad” acting, Black Talent TV has come up with a list of the 17 best web series from this past year. In addition, there are three to four web series that did not make the list but deserve some recognition as well. Check out the full list, as well as a few honorable mentions, below.
2017 has been a VERY good year for Tough Love. Besides gaining over 1 million views and counting, the web series was nominated for a Daytime Emmy! For those who don’t know, Tough Love is a Caleb Davis directed & Roni Simpson written web series that follows “the lives of “six millennials living in New York City, all have differing ideals and desires when it comes to life and love.” With two successful seasons already in the books, Tough Love is back for a third season with new characters added to the mix, as well as a guest appearance from Harry Lenox(Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice). Tough Love has it all: relatable characters, storylines that keep fans wanting MORE, and a great theme song.
Directed & written by Eric Dickens, Makeup and Breakup is a web series that literally begins when Brooke blindsides Blake and ends their two year relationship. Blake, however, doesn’t hesitate before jumping back into the New York dating scene and instantly finds a new love interest. However, Brooke resurfaces. The romantic and personal lives of other characters intertwine and things become even more complicated than expected. After being official selections for various web festivals and winning awards, Makeup x Breakup returned for a second season with even more bombshells than before! Trust us when we write this: THIS web series is a MUST WATCH. YOU will NOT be disappointed with Makeup x Breakup!
If there was ever a project that needed to be the face of the term “do it for the gram,” then Staged the Series IS that project. Also, if there was ever a Real Housewives of Social Media, this web series is PRETTY MUCH that as well. Created by Erika Dumore, Staged the Series “exhibits the duality of being a social media influencer, while on the journey to self-love and truth. The characters need for social assurance is core to the insecurity and hypocrisy shaping their decisions as they deal with the everyday struggles and situations that occur on the fringes of being social-media stars.” Every episode of Staged the Series kept us wanting more and if you haven’t seen it, you’re definitely missing out on something AMAZING.
After finishing its first season to remarkable reviews, award winning filmmaker Bobby Ashley brought his web series, The Ave, back for a second season. At the same time, the project moved from YouTube to being available on AMAZON PRIME for purchase. For those who haven’t watched, The Ave “centers on Nate Brooks, an ambitious check fraudulent business owner, husband and devoted father who thought he had everything under control while running his scamming business along with his partners Keith, Quan, and older sister Rolanda. Unfortunately, after finding his best friend brutally murdered, feuding with ED(the Puerto Rican Cartels), and ending his affair with Stacey, he is now under threat and the only way Nate can survive is by questioning his own loyalty. Eventually, in the end, someone will pay the price.” The season two premiere was everything the fans expected AND more! Bobby and the cast were even interviewed on Pix 11 News about the show. Expect more episodes of The Ave in 2018.
For those who are obsessed with sneakers, there’s a term for you: SNEAKER HEADS. And if there’s also a series for you all—Sole Kings. Created, written, and directed by Michael A. Pinckney(Precious, Inside Man), Sole Kings “follows the lives of five entrepreneurial sneaker enthusiasts, as they hustle their way through the world of sneaker culture, while trying to define who they are and make a name for themselves in the city’s competitive sneaker game. Sole Kings offers endless storylines filled with an array of colorful characters from collectors, to resellers, to sneaker lovers, to OG’s, and to hype beasts.” While the web series is genuinely funny, there are some serious moments and it definitely puts a spotlight on the sneaker head culture.
While actress Nicolette Ellis stars in many successful web series, she went a step above and created her own. Written by Ellis, Mistake follows the Wright family who, troubled by the death of Melissa Wright’s mother, go through unforeseen obstacles that begin to hinder all of their family relations. While this is occurring, the Love family enters their lives. Mistake has all the right ingredients of a mystery/thriller: mysterious characters and a few suspenseful moments. This web series is one of those projects where you cannot trust the intentions of ANY character because EVERYONE has a motive.
Co-created by Ashlee Danielle & Jarred Solomon, Uhuru Now “follows six college students attending Lorenzo Jason University(LJU) while seeking purpose in their lives. Whether they’re finding truth, trust, vulnerability, or themselves, each student is in search of something. As they embark on the journey to find their place in society as young black men and women, they join LJU’s Pan African society ‘Uhuru Now’ which allows them to explore the social issues they’re forced to face daily.” The entire web series was nothing short of fantastic—great characters and great conversation on real life topics. On top of that, the drama that happens between the characters keeps things VERY interesting. Uhuru Now is a gem that should be watched by all.
Back with some new and returning faces, Lester “NewNue” Matthew’s The Circle: NYC returned for a second season filled with major drama. The reality web series focused on the talents of 7 gay men living in New York City as they attempt to work together on media, community, and social projects, all while following their dreams in the big city. As much as the drama was on a high this season, the show also provided a look into the hustle and bustle that each cast member endures in their respective careers, such as being a rapper, promoter, and filmmaker. If you’re a fan of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop or Logo’s The A List: New York, you’ll definitely like The Circle: NYC, which is set to start production on season three in early 2018.
Created, directed, written, and executive produced by James Bland, who also stars, Giants is a web series that garnered so much critical acclaim in its first season. Also produced by Issa Rae(Insecure) & Jussie Smollett(Empire), Giants follows “three black millennials: Malachi(Bland), Journee(Vanessa Baden Kelly) and Ade(Sean Samuels), each battling their own inner giants as they approach age 30. The web series touched on REAL issues including mental health, sexual identity, religious skepticism and unorthodox methods of economic survival.” This web series had us IN OUR FEELINGS with almost EVERY episode. Giants is definitely one of those projects that hit home with their sensitive topics throughout each episode. Season two of Giants is set for a 2018 release and we cannot wait to see what has happened with the three main characters.
After two successful seasons of the award-winning web series D.C. Yuppies, creator Brandon Hairston decided to go down another route for his next project. Written and directed alongside Ronal Goff, Bad Web Series “is a scripted parody that follows a group of black suburbanites through drama that could either strengthen their long-lasting ties or ultimately tear them apart.” This web series is SERIOUSLY funny because there are so many over dramatic moments and just BAD moments. If you have not seen Bad Web Series, you have to because you will be laughing with EVERY episode,
With so many shows under his belt, writer, director, producer, and actor Karlton T. Clay creates another web series that proves he’s one amazing filmmaker—Bondage. The web series centers on “Maurice Bond(Nelson J. Davis), a recovering sex addict and former male escort. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Bond gets back into his former profession and puts his recovery process at risk. In addition to Bond’s story, other characters deal with other addictions, such as drugs and alcoholism, which keep them in ‘bondage.’” With a great storyline and steamy sex scenes, Bondage is a MUST SEE.
With an interesting title already, Brown Girls is phenomenal. Written by Fatimah Asghar and directed by Sam Bailey, Brown Girls “is an intimate story of the friendship between two women of color. While Leila and Patricia come from completely different backgrounds, their friendship is ultimately what they lean on to get through the messiness of their mid-twenties.” The acting between main actresses Nabila Hossain & Sonia Denis and their on screen chemistry is top notch. Brown Girls garnered so much attention that HBO picked up the web series for a development deal. Congratulations are in order for this fantastic project!
Written & directed by Kimia Workman, who also stars, Shock Nation is about a girl growing up in the streets of Baltimore City looking to find her way. She lost her inspiration for dance, as well as her hope for surviving and getting out of her neighborhood when issues and conflict transpired within her family. Through inspiration from her school dance team Shock Nation, and a love for dance she cannot deny or let go, she regains hope and inspiration. Along with fellow executive producers Tyler Williams, Coakley Workman, and Stephanie Workman, as well as James M. Perry as director of photography, Shock Nation showcases the good, bad, and ugly in the life of Sachi(K. Workman) BUT also the PERSEVERANCE that she had. Sachi was a fighter and in tough times, only tough people last.
Recently announced as BET’s first digital series, Brooklyn.Blue.Sky is a Dui Jarrod & Rhavynn Drummer written & directed web series about “two distant exes, Skylar and Blue, who reluctantly decide to come together to create a pilot for a ‘Netflix and Chill’ TV show competition. Before they submit, they have to untie the binds that held them captive to their youthful. One thing, however, is for sure: SHADE is indeed in the forecast.” The many topics discussed in this web series are relatable and often create more shady comments than expected. Nonetheless, Brooklyn.Blue.Sky is a fantastic project with an above the par production, actors, and storyline.
Created, written, and executive produced by Alonge Hawes, Blue Collar Hustle is the story of four young black men in Stone Mtn. GA – looking to change their fortunes and find their calling through art, music, and a bit of imagination; all the while juggling the everyday responsibilities of families, job security, and above all else—the reality of existing as black men in modern day society. Blue Collar Hustle is fantastic as it showcases these four men as hardworking, intelligent, and powerful human beings who are just like ANY other man. Season two of Blue Collar Hustle premieres in 2018 and we are excited to see the continuation of this much needed web series.
An IFC original web series, Frank and Lamar focuses on two best friends who live together and work together as middle school teachers in New York City where workplace drama and romance issues cause havoc on their friendship. Frank & Lamar is created by and starring Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins. Being a teacher to kids and teens isn’t an easy job but this web series pokes a little fun at it, as well as spotlighting the fact that working and living with your best friend could be a good or bad thing depending on the personalities involved. In all, Frank and Lamar is SO funny and a must see for everyone!
Created by J. Nycole Ralph, who also stars, Working Out The Kinks is the first scripted sitcom series to highlight the natural hair movement! Harlem naturalista, Jada(Ralph), and her roommates get a new suburban, culturally naïve, white roommate, and things in their life begin to get quite tangled! Black Talent TV attended the first ever Urban Web Summit this past summer and the pilot episode of Working Out The Kinks was screened to an audience who could not stop laughing. Ralph is hilarious as Jada and the rest of the characters are great—the chemistry between them is special. We’re looking forward to more content from Working Out The Kinks in 2018.
Created and written by Lenore Coer, Stepford SideChix follows Ty who, in an effort to secure a career as a respected writer, exploits the world of the “other woman” through the sometimes hilarious, often dramatic experiences of her once close-knit group of friends. Each of the five ladies is different and has their own storyline while the web series also focuses on the highs and lows of their friendship, not just their dating lives. If you like Sex and The City or Mistresses, then Stepford SideChix the web series for you!
Joseph “Joey G” Garrett’s In The Circle is back for a fifth season, titled In The Circle: Dreams vs. Reality, with a fresh group of ambitious twenty-somethings in New York City, as well as a few appearances from past dream chasers who waste no time interacting with the new crew. This time around, the struggle is intense between the dreams that light up the hearts of these go-getting individuals and the urgent realities that cloud their minds. From intense relationship struggles to fire starting personal views that send this group into disarray, you will find shock around every corner. The new cast of In The Circle: DVR are remarkable, with each individual going through their own struggles and being completely open about it. On top of that, the drama is better than ever this season.
With the right amount of action and drama, Who Run This Town is a great web series for any adult to watch. Directed, written, produced, and edited by Stephon Brown(Dinero and Alaina), Who Run This Town is an action/drama set in Columbus, Ohio around Zeus. After Zeus’ parents are assassinated, it’s up to him to keep the infamous family empire standing. As old and new enemies start to move in on his territory, Zeus doesn’t know who to trust in the mist of war over control of the city. In the first episode alone, several people are introduced and most are even killed within the first few minutes!
At least one time or another, all of us have said or heard someone say, “Being a grown up really sucks!” Well, The New Adult is a web series that actually focuses on one person who really literally is the visual image of the quote. Created by Katherine Murray-Satchell, The New Adult follows 30-something year old Amber after being kicked out of her parent’s home and learning how to live on her own. Being a slacker, Amber is now given a hard dose of reality. She’s cool, brash, and sometimes flat-out rude. The New Adult documents her journey, her failures, and a few successes, as she struggles to work out what it means to be an adult. This web series is so funny and relatable in the fact that while most people struggle as an adult, you can always try to start over the next day. For Amber, it isn’t that easy apparently.