By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual
For my first post on black web series, including links to shows, click here.
From my Wall Street Journal post:
“Doing a Web series, working in this new medium, you have a little bit more autonomy, an ability to tell the story you want to tell,” Ali told me in an interview.
With a little help from Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment, Breece and Ali (and producer Aaliyah Williams) brought their show to BET. The result is “Buppies,” premiering Nov. 24 on BET.com. The show is BET’s first original Web series. It’s not the first Web series to feature a predominately black cast, but with BET’s promotion of the show online and on TV, it is arguably the most high-profile.
“BET was definitely not a part of my plan at all,” says Breece. “But a lot of black people flock to the Web for content. I just feel like it’s the new frontier.”
Some thoughts and more quotes from the interview below.
One of the things Ali and I discussed in the interview was how we’re in a moment where TV networks have to realize the value of black content for capturing audiences of all races. Though I’ve written before that this may or may not happen, there are signs it may — as I mention in the article, Idris Elba, Don Cheadle and Aaron McGruder are all developing shows. Ice Cube, Ali noted, is following the Tyler Perry model with his show for TBS, Are We There Yet?, based on his movie. Ali (with Martin Lawrence, Bentley Kyle Evans, and Raphael Saadiq) are pursuing the same model with Love that Girl.
“I remember working on Fresh Prince, we had a very wide audience, because the story was good,” Ali told me. “It’s about relatable characters, and relatable characters come in any color, any age. I mean, the Golden Girls is airing constantly and I watch it every day! I can completely relate to them.”
Buppies is an intervention in that arena. When show creator Julian Breece was shopping the idea around to network a few years ago, before Grey’s Anatomy he said, the networks weren’t looking for shows like that or they wanted to change it substantially. Breece and Ali — brought together by producer Aaliyah Williams – took the web in part to tell their own stories — also in part because it’s manageable and affordable. Ali seemed especially proud that Buppies could include gay characters, and Breece could write them mostly outside of corporate influence. A lot of the black web series I’ve seen have gay characters as leads, actually, which is really interesting: this doesn’t happen on TV, almost at all.