Quality television is back and in full force. Shonda Rhimes presented one of the best, most thought provoking episodes of Scandal Thursday night. It was epic and jaw-dropping and I’d wager that there wasn’t a dry eye as the closing credits ran across the screen. Shonda Rhimes is a beast! She had many of us caught up in our feelings as we sat on the edge of our seats to see how the storyline would play out and how our beloved Olivia Pope would fix what was broke. And for all the naysayers, Shonda is proof positive that black, female writers can tell stories that appeal to the masses. She’s been doing it since the first episode of Grey’s Anatomy and with the success of Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, I don’t see her stopping any time soon.
Then there’s Mari Brock Akil and the success of her show, Being Mary Jane. Much like I follow ABC faithfully on Thursdays, I’m a BET addict on Tuesdays, catching up with the antics of Mary Jane Paul played by Gabrielle Union. It’s a different kind of vibe and Mari brings a whole other voice to her stories. But just like Shonda, Mari is doing her thing!
And now the men have jumped into the fold! Lee Daniels has a whole nation fiending for his Empire on Wednesdays. Empire is breaking the bank with its numbers and those who haven’t declared themselves #TeamCookie are far and few! I can only imagine the withdrawal when the season finale eventually airs.
John Ridley, of Twelve Years a Slave fame, has now added American Crime to the lineup. Ridley is giving us a crime drama that is sure to have folks talking around the water cooler as he deals with race, class and gender politics head on. Ridley’s anthology has already been met with wide acclaim from critics. It is superb storytelling with award-worthy acting. The first episode had me caught up and yelling at the television screen. Thursday nights just keep getting better and better!
Quality television is definitely back and in full force! We are getting stories that not only pull at our heartstrings but stories that have a whole lot of us rooting for actors of color and stories that are putting black writers in the television writing rooms once dominated by white males. I can only hope that television is just the tip of the iceberg and movies aren't too far behind. Then maybe, just maybe, they’ll move the books by black authors off those two shelves in the back of the bookstore and put them front and center at the door when readers walk in. Too much writing talent is going unrecognized in the literary world and just like what’s happening now in television, I would really like to see that change.