by: Sang Kromah
2016 was a pretty good year for women making moves; from Ilhan Omar becoming the first Somali-American Muslim lawmaker in the United States to Emmy Rossum taking a stand to demand equal pay and getting it to Gilmore Girls making a triumphant return, and Rory Gilmore making it clear that it’s okay to lose your way at times as long as you don’t give up (Thank you Amy Sherman-Palladino for keeping it real. Can we get a season 2?). We still have a long way to go to being acknowledged as equal and worthy opponents, but that’s why Project GirlSpire exists, to document the journey, the struggle, and the achievements of women and girls.
I’ve always been the biggest cheerleader of girls that are making it on their own terms, giving the proverbial finger to naysayers and disbelievers. The girl that tells modeling agencies who think that beauty only comes in a size zero to go jump, then creates a fashion empire through Instagram or Tumblr. Or the girl who couldn’t get a writing gig on a network series, then creates her own web series and gains superstar status without her thoughts and ideas being filtered. The rebels. The anarchists. The disturbers of peace, who refuse to go silently in the night.
I’m constantly making mental top ten lists, so I thought, why not publish these lists? Top ten lists of my favorite female tastemakers, makers, trendsetters, anarchists, badasses, places, music, TV series, etc. These are our lists. The lists that shine a light on the best of all things girl-related on a global scale.
This week’s 10 Spot: Diverse Web Series and Where to Find Them. These series kept me glued to my MacBook for an entire month. I watched NO live TV, because of this list. These 10 web series are either created by or include a diverse cast of women/girls.
1.) Title: “Pretty”
Creator: Antonia Opiah, Founder, Un-Ruly
Summary: “Pretty” is the brainchild of Nigerian-American writer, blogger, and filmmaker, Antonia Opiah, going from city to city, asking black women the seemingly innocent question, “What is pretty?” The series describes itself as “the digital postcard from women around the world to women around the world as told through a weekly documentary series. It explores just how nuanced beauty can be by not only taking a look at how beauty standards vary from country to country but also how they might vary within a city.” The series has interviewed women in Tel-Aviv, Paris, Milan, and London.
2.) Title: Inhuman Condition
Summary: This character driven supernatural drama from KindaTV mashes up real-world issue like disease, discrimination, mental health with lycanthropy (werewolves) and zombieism. Think Hitchcock’s Rear Window meets BBC’s In the Flesh and CW’s Vampire Diaries. Inhuman Condition is a web series set in a world where the supernatural is no secret. The show is about a female therapist who meets with court-ordered inhuman patients or people who suffer from supernatural disorders. It may sound crazy, but once you watch the first episode, you will binge the entire 33 episodes. It’s strong, diverse, beautiful, and also sad…definitely worth watching.
3.) Title: “Teenagers”
Creators: M. H. Murray and Sara Tamosauskas
Summary: I have this obsession for Canadian TV. Think the success of Degrassi and its longevity. Canada has a knack for casting real people. The actors look like real people…diverse and their issues are realistic and yet remain very entertaining. “Teenagers” is a web series that focuses on issues like racism, sexuality, teen angst, and violence. Think of “Teenagers” as “Degrassi” growing up and moving to HBO. There are a few familiar Degrassi alums onboard seasons one and two. Currently, they’re crowdfunding to make season three a reality, so there are a number of ways to get involved with this award winning series.
4.) Title: The Misselthwaite Archives
Creator: Aileen Sheedy
Summary: This web series is a modern retelling of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The show re-imagines Mary Lennox as a surly seventeen-year-old who moves to her uncle’s large, lonely estate near the Oregon wetlands after the death of her parents. With a diverse supporting cast of characters, including a cat, Mary searches for a hidden forest glade. It’s edgy, enthralling, and the director is an Asian-American female.
5.) Title: “Black Actress”
Creator: Andrea Lewis
Summary: You may remember Andrea Lewis as Hazel Aden on the ever-popular “Degrassi: The Next Generation”, but after the show ended, Lewis found it difficult to find acting roles. She did what any proactive millennial woman would do, taking matters into her own hands by creating Black Actress. The show follows the life of “Kori Bailey”, a Brooklyn, NY-based black actress, played by Andrea Lewis, as she struggles with the pursuit of getting her big break. Kori had mediocre success on a television series as a teenager and is relentless in following her dreams to become a star. Even with auditions being sparse and stereotypes running wild she refuses to get lost in the sauce and classified as just another “black actress”. Lewis is the show’s creator, writer, producer and star, and with executive producers like fellow black actresses Issa Rae and Tatyana Ali, “Black Actress” is hilariously real even in its satire. You can find “Black Actress” on Issa Rae’s YouTube channel.
6.) Title: “Brown Girls”
Written By: Fatimah Asghar
Produced By: Sam Q. Bailey
Summary: Okay, so technically “Brown Girls” won’t be released until 2017, but I saw the trailer and I got so hype, because even though I love, love, love “Sex and the City”, this series looks like the “brown girl’s guide to life and love in the city”. It’s diverse, queer, real, and hella raw. I’m very anxious for this one, because I put a lot of emphasis on the importance of telling the stories of every woman and these are stories that aren’t being portrayed positively or realistically in the media. The content seems a little mature, but I feel it’s a necessary depiction for queer girls or young women of color. The show’s lead is Leila, a Southeast Asian writer, who’s navigating through her sexual orientation and career in Chicago. Her best friend, Patricia, an African American musician is struggling financially, romantically and creatively. The clip takes you through Chicago’s eclectic and culturally diverse arts scene, delving into women’s issues, sexuality, family, and more. It looks brilliant, and I can’t wait to watch.
7.) Title: “Ladies Room”
Creators: Neha Kaul Mehra, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee
Summary: This India-based web series is reminiscent to “Broad City” because of its portrayal of two unconventional female leads. Although the series uses English subtitles, they are speaking English with some Hindi slang and it is too damn funny. The bathroom-set comedy tells the story of Dingo and Khanna as they struggle through pregnancy scares and a slew of other real-life issues in the funniest ways possible.
8.) Title: “Her Story”
Creator: Laura Zak
Summary: “Her Story” is a love story like no other that features three women (two of which are trans), dealing with what it means to be a woman and dealing with sexual identity. The show’s co-creators, Jen Richards and Laura Zak, play lovers trying to find their way. We watch as the relationship unfolds slowly and beautifully. Nothing is fast or perfect. It’s simple real and beautifully executed.
9.) Title: “Women on Sex”
Creator: Mmabatho Montsho
Summary: “Women on Sex” is such a crucial series for not only African women and girls, but for girls and women in the diaspora as well. Johannesburg-based actress and director, Mmabatho Montsho developed this 10-part web series that examines sex, sexual health, and sexual identity. Although it revolves around the women in South Africa, there’s a lot girls and women everywhere can learn from these groundbreaking, candid interviews with doctors, pastors, media personalities, and everyday women. It gives insight on how our views differ in various parts of the world, and also how similar we actually are.
10.) Title: “East Los High”
Creator: Kathleen Bedoya, Carlos Portugal
Summary: “East Los High” is the first English language show with an all Latino cast on Hulu and it is addictive. You are quickly sucked into the many dramas of these East L.A. teens and their families from immigration issues to teen pregnancies to HIV. The series realistically reflects the lives and struggles, engaging organizations such as Advocates for Youth, Voto
Latino and the California Family Health Council to tell compelling stories.