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  • Written By 10Melanin Team

10 Tv Shows With Leading Black Women

It's not often that Black women are cast as the lead or even have characters written with Black women in mind, but we've managed to find 10 shows across a mix of genres so there should be something here for all tastes. Whether you're looking for something new to watch or to see if your favourite show made the list, we've got you covered.

10. How To Get Away With Murder

Black Lead Female Character Annalise (Viola Davis) In TV Show How To Get Away With Murder


How to Get Away with Murder is a legal thriller drama mixed with murder mystery, featuring Annalise (Viola Davis) a criminal defence lawyer and professor as the main protagonist. Each year, Annalise picks her favourite students to work with her at her law firm, but their lives become entangled when the body of a missing student is found. Everyone's a suspect and everyone's keeping secrets including Annalise.

9. Being Mary Jane

Black Lead Female Character Mary Jane (Gabrielle Union) In TV Show Being Mary Jane


From the creator of Girlfriends (Mara Brock Akil), Being Mary Jane centres around successful broadcast journalist Mary Jane (Gabrielle Union). First appearances can be deceiving because while she looks beautiful and put together Mary Jane has a lot of issues to face behind closed doors such as sleeping with a man that turns out to be married and a dysfunctional family who rely on her for financial and emotional support. When premiere the show drew more than 4 million viewers, making it BET's highest rated show.

8. Claws

Black Lead Female Character Desna (Niecy Nash) In TV Show Being Mary Jane


Claws follows five nail technicians who get involved in the male dominated world of organised crime, when they begin to launder money with the hope that one day they'll be able to own their own salon. However, it's not as easy as it first seems, when relationships turn sour and people begin to get murdered they start to find themselves in hot water. Staring Niecy Nash, Karrueche Tran and Judy Reyes. Claws is an underrated guilty pleasure thats entertaining, funny and the good kind of trashy.

7. Dear White People

Black Lead Female Character Samantha (Logan Browning) In TV Show Dear White People


Dear White People is a comedy-drama based on the 2014 film with the same name, that follows Black students as they study at a prominently white ivy league school. Social justice warrior Samantha (Logan Browning) is the leader of the BSU (Black Student Union) and the host of a Radio show called Dear White People that addresses racial micro-aggressions and modern day race relations. While Samantha has an image of being "pro-Black" that she wants to uphold, she's actually got a secret that she doesn't want anyone to know... she's sleeping with a white guy.

6. A Black Lady Sketch Show

After Robin Thede's show on BET The Rundown with Robin Thede was cancelled, she teamed up with Issa Rae to pitch the idea for the A Black Lady Sketch Show to HBO and without hesitation the show was commissioned for a 6 episode series without a pilot. Weird, wonderful and low key sometimes scary, the series covers all aspects of modern African-American life. Starring Black female comedians Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Quinta Brunson, and Gabrielle Dennis as the recurring actresses, the show also features a huge number of Black celebrities such as Angela Bassett, Patti Labelle and Kelly Rowland as guest appearances.

5. Scandal

Black Lead Female Character Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) In TV Show Scandal


Amongst a mostly white cast, Kerry Washington stands out incredibly with her portrayal as the character Olivia Pope in this political thriller, Scandal. Taking place in Washington D.C the show focuses around Pope's crisis management firm and the political scene, dealing with many issues that arise for her team. The main scandal however is her relationship with the president, whom she is having an affair with. The show is insanely addictive and will have you hooked after just one episode.

4. Pose

Black Lead Female Characters Elektra Wintour (Dominique Jackson) and Bianca (Mj Rodriguez) In TV Show Pose


Pose highlights the many issues that the Black and latino LGBTQ+ community faced during the 1980's such as the HIV/ AIDs epidemic, sex work, and drug abuse. The main premise for the show is the New York ballroom scene in which houses compete against each-other in categories for trophies, however it becomes apparent that houses are more like adoptive families, that many become reliant on due to being ostracised by their own. Bianca (Mj Rodriguez) after finding out some devastating news decides to leave her ballroom family "House of Abundance" to create her own but her mother Elektra Wintour (Dominique Jackson) is not willing to make it easy for her.

3. Girlfriends

Black Lead Female Characters Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross), Toni (Jill Marie Jones), Lynn (Persia White), Maya (Golden Brooks) In TV Show Girlfriends


Girlfriends is the Black girl's answer to Sex and the City mixed with a little bit of Friends. The show follows 4 girlfriends living in their 20's and the challenges they face with their career, friendships and love. With each character having a different personality, theres someone everyone can relate to, you have; Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross) - the den mother, Toni (Jill Marie Jones) - the hot one, Lynn (Persia White) - the carefree one and Maya (Golden Brooks) - the funny one. Even though the show was hugely successful it was notoriously cancelled midway through season 8 leaving fans frustrated and with many unanswered questions.

2. I May Destroy You

Black Lead Female Character Arabella (Michaela Coel) In TV Show I May Destroy You


Never has a show been more needed in the wake of the Me Too movement. Created by Michaela Coel and based on her and people she knows own experiences, I May Destroy You explores something that effects nearly all women - consent. It's not such a stark contrast from her show Chewing Gum as it still has funny / outrageous elements but what stands out is Coel's amazing talent for storytelling, it'll have you wondering whats going to happen next at the end of every episode.

1. Insecure

Based on the critically acclaimed web series Awkward Black Girl, Insecure follows Issa Dee (Issa Rae), who is unlucky in love and in her career, as she stumbles her way through life. This beautiful portrayal of what life is like for a Black girl in her 20's will not only have you laughing but will make you feel like a bit better about not being quite where you want to be yet.

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