More than regurgitating old programming content from BET (Black Entertainment Television), BET Plus (opens in new tab) has evolved into seriously serving a niche audience in a little under two years. Featuring television series and movies created primarily from Black creatives, the network has also been building its original portfolio as well.
The subscription service, priced at $9.99 a month, has also maintained a balance in the kinds of content available, which is something many viewers of BET have complained about over the past decade. There’s plenty of great episodic series available on BET Plus and we’re going to provide you with some of our best choices.
Will Packer may be known as one of the biggest executive producers in Hollywood for films like Straight Outta Compton and Girls Trip, however, his television game is just as strong, with BET Plus Original series Bigger being a clear highlight. Created by Felischa Marye, Bigger follows the lives of five Atlanta friends in their 30s. The series, starring Tanisha Long, Angell Conwell, Rasheda Crockett, Tristen J. Winger and Chase Anthony, is something fans of series like HBO’s Insecure or Starz’s Run The World are definitely going to appreciate. Most importantly, the soundtrack is killer.
The Ms. Pat Show
Based on comedian Patricia "Ms. Pat" Williams’ autobiographical memoir Rabbit – The Autobiography of Ms. Pat, The Ms. Pat Show could be considered one of the most radical sitcoms of the modern era. A Black take on classic working-class comedies like All In The Family and '90s era Roseanne, the BET Plus Original series sees former drug dealer turned comedian Ms. Pat trade Atlanta city life for suburbia in Plainfield, Ind., with her family. Similar to the series’ inspirations, The Ms. Pat Show handles serious social commentary from racism and LGBTQ+ issues to domestic violence with care yet tonal irreverence.
First Wives Club
The Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn vehicle First Wives Club was a comedic tale of scorned women getting revenge on their disrespectful ex-husbands. The BET Plus original starring comedian Michelle Buteau, multi-platinum songstress turned actress Jill Scott and Army Wives star Ryan Michelle Bathe takes some clever liberties with the source material. More than a one-off take, the series saw a second season release this year while getting renewed for a third season as well.
An official selection of The Sundance Film Festival in 2018, Leimert Park is a series of short episodes based around the lives of three Black women in the popular South Central Los Angeles artistic community. Fans of Dear White People will be happy to know that the series is directed by film producer Mel Jones. Besides utilizing some clever cinematography and some surrealist touches, the series touches on various subjects affecting Black women including sex, career and even gentrification.
Tyler Perry’s Bruh
A spin-off of Tyler Perry’s Sistas, Bruh centers on four Atlanta best friends navigating both love and professional lives as eligible young bachelors. Like many Tyler Perry productions, tonality it is all over the place. That’s a part of the series’ charm though. One moment, the show is tackling workplace harassment with soap opera theatrics. The next, standout character Alice Watts (played by former S.O.S. band member Chandra Currelley-Young) is hilariously playing up the aggressive cougar role.
One of the most unique original series on BET Plus is U.K. import Dark Money. A limited series originally broadcasted on BBC, the drama made waves tacking the serious subject of sexual abuse. Following a young British boy turning into a Hollywood A-lister following the release of a blockbuster film, it’s revealed he was sexually abused by a popular producer. The series deals with the aftermath of the parents accepting hush money and the downward spiral that comes afterwards.
American Gangster: Trap Queens
BET’s American Gangster series in the mid-to-late 2000s followed some of America’s most notorious criminal empires. The rebranded version takes the same approach but from a female perspective. This includes street legends running illegal empires, from drug dealing to tax fraud. With episode narrations from Lil' Kim and Jeezy, American Gangster: Trap Queens tells some of the best female-based criminal stories on television today.
The Rich and Ruthless
Originally a web series streaming on the Allblk network several years ago, The Rich and the Ruthless moved to a new home on BET Plus for its fourth season. Loosely based on the Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva and The Young and the Ruthless books written by series star Victoria Rowell, the show is a Black over-the-top tribute to daytime soap operas.
The Family Affair
Though the verdict may still be out on Lee Daniels’ Black bourgeoisie series Our Kind of People on Fox, The Family Affair is just as over the top. Also utilizing literature as the source material, the show follows the wealthy life of New York family the Duncans. Running an exotic car dealership, they also dabble in some illegal side activities that threaten to destroy their posh image.
Tyler Perry’s Ruthless
Another Tyler Perry spin-off, Ruthless is a cult drama featuring loose connections to his White House drama The Oval. Starring Melissa L. Williams, Ruthless is about Ruth Truesdale fighting to escape a sex-crazed cult called the Rakudushis after wrongfully kidnapping her daughter Callie. Like anything related to Perry, Ruthless is an over-the-top drama that throws traditional pacing out of the window. It’s all about what crazy spectacle is next.
Ural Garrett is an Inglewood,CA-based journalist and content curator. His byline has been featured in outlets including CNN, MTVNews, Complex, TechRadar, LA Weekly and more.
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