by Kim Singleton
Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip) has created a new show for Amazon Prime. “Harlem” follows four friends living in Harlem, New York as they navigate their careers, relationships, and aspirations.
Camille (Meagan Good), a professor of anthropology, wrestles with old feelings when her ex-boyfriend (Tyler Lepley) reappears in her life. Also, she is trying to advance to the next career level while managing roadblocks from her new boss (Whoopi Goldberg).
Quin (Grace Byers) is a designer/entrepreneur who is struggling to keep her dress shop afloat. Her situation becomes complicated when she must ask her mother for financial support. Quin’s mother (Jasmine Guy) does not approve of her career choices and nags her about them at every opportunity.
Tye (Jerri Johnson), a tech entrepreneur, has created a successful queer-dating application and while it is successful, her personal dating life is not. She tends to keep potential girlfriends at a distance.
Angie (Shoniqua Shandai) is a former successful singer trying to find a way back to stardom. Her outspoken and over-the-top approaches to every situation make her quest very difficult.
“Harlem” has all the elements to make you love the series: beautiful Black people in all shades, sizes, and personalities; stylish wardrobes; witty dialogue; and enough drama among the characters to keep you coming back for more.
This series addresses topics significant to the Harlem neighborhood like gentrification and how larger retail chains force out small shops. “Harlem” also touches on topics specific to Black women and features an episode on uterine fibroids which is prevalent among African American women. According to the University of Michigan Health Laboratory, “Black women are diagnosed with fibroids roughly three times as frequently as white women, develop them earlier in life, and tend to experience larger and more numerous fibroids that cause severe symptoms”. The series puts this unspoken topic front and center.
Even with serious issues embedded in the story, “Harlem” is smart, funny, and an overall good time. Kudos to the writing team. All ten episodes of “Harlem” are now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Tracy Oliver talks about why she created "Harlem." Video courtesy of the African American Film Critics Association.