Weekend Watchlist | Black History Month Television

By The Pitt News Staff

Our streaming recommendations this week showcase Black experiences as featured on TV.

Watchmen (HBO Max) // Megan Williams, Digital Manager

Though it exists in the same alternate universe as its source material, HBO’s “Watchmen” (2019) elevated the world to new levels. After a white supremacist group known as the Seventh Kavalry threatens to rise again, Angela Abar (Regina King) must weed out its members while protecting her own identity. There are whispers of characters from the existing Watchmen canon — Ozymandias, the smartest man in the world, and Dr. Manhattan, the most powerful being to exist — but the non-superpowered people are by far the most interesting individuals. Set in Oklahoma almost 100 years after the real-life Tulsa Race Massacre, Angela navigates the ever-shifting world where Black people wonder whether white hoods lurk in the closet of friendly faces.

One of the most critically acclaimed shows in recent years, “Watchmen” asks important questions about who society casts as heroes.

Pose (Netflix) // Maggie Young, Contributing Editor

Pittsburgh legend Billy Porter acquaints viewers with the drag ball scene of ‘80s and ‘90s New York City, where his character, Pray Tell, shines as emcee of a ball venue. Folks perform in the balls — often representing their respective house, which serves as a familial unit and home, as well as a team. “Pose” follows Blanca (MJ Rodriguez) as she departs from the House of Abundance and its mother, the powerful Elektra (Dominique Jackson), in order to start her own House of Evangelista.

Full of energy and gripping house feud, the show also details the devastation of the AIDS epidemic, which disproportionately impacted the LGBTQ+ and Black communities. The series features the largest cast of trans actors on a TV show, including Rodriguez, Jackson and Indya Moore as Angel.

Lovecraft Country (HBO Max) // Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

How often do you see a science fiction or fantasy show driven by Black characters in an unapologetically Black story? Not many, and even less so that manage to land excellently on every aspect of the show. Lovecraft Country nails it all — writing, acting, sets, special effects. And it also paints a picture of a Jim Crow America without any holds or stops, history as it should be told, with some monsters and magic thrown in.

The star of the show is Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors), a Korean War vet who discovers that through his mother’s ancestral line, he’s the descendant of a magic-wielding religious cult, headed by the Braithwhite family in rural Massachusetts. After unearthing some deeply buried family history, Tic has to balance his newfound knowledge in magic as the enemies he’s made come after him not just for stealing it, but because of his Blackness. Joined by Letitia Lewis (Jurnee Smollett) his father Montrose Freeman (Michael K. Williams) his aunt Hippolyta Freeman (Aunjanue Ellis) and more, Lovecraft Country makes the perfect thematic blend of history, legacy and power into a show worth watching.

When They See Us (Netflix) // Hayley Lesh, Staff Writer

Although it’s a limited series, it is difficult not to include “When They See Us” on this watchlist. Set in 1989, “When They See Us” centers on the five young men, known as the Central Park Five, who became the main suspects of the Central Park Jogger case. Without physical evidence, the Central Park Five are arrested and tried for a white woman’s assault. The series stars Asante Blackk, Caleel Harris, Jharrel Jerome, Marquis Rodriguez and Ethan Herisse. “When They See Us” also features several well-known actors including Vera Farmiga (Elizabeth Lederer), Niecy Nash (Delores Wise) and Joshua Jackson (Michael Joseph). The miniseries was directed by Ava DuVernay who is known for projects including “Selma” and “13th.”

“When They See Us” brings several important topics into conservation such as corruption within the criminal justice system and life after incarceration. It is a powerful and emotional watch that will give you a new perspective on what it means to be innocent until proven guilty.

Dear White People (Netflix) // Rachel Bachy, For The Pitt News

Based on the film by the same name, Justin Simien’s satirical Netflix original “Dear White People” discusses race relations at a predominantly white institution. The fictional Ivy League institution, Winchester University, is home to Samantha White (Logan Browning), whose eponymous radio talk show asks viewers to question their perspective on race. The show’s commentary on current events such as police brutality and cultural appropriation in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency encourages viewers to question what racism looks like on a national stage, as well as in their everyday lives. With exaggerated scenarios and introspective characters, “Dear White People” balances a comedic lens with the reality of racial politics in America.

As students of Pitt, also a predominantly white institution, “Dear White People” mirrors our reality. In watching this show, we can acknowledge our biases and examine the ways racism shapes our college experience. If you’d like to think critically about race in America and have a good laugh, “Dear White People” is just right for you.