REVIEW: ‘Harlem’ is a Celebration of Women of Color

Amazon’s Harlem is a celebration of women of color and an emotional rollercoaster you’ll thoroughly enjoy being a part of.

At a time when Sex in the City is coming back, courtesy of HBO Max’s And Just Like That…, Amazon is set to deliver its own female-led drama titled Harlem. Unlike And Just Like That…, though, Harlem is a diverse series that manages to empower women without shying away from the ugly realities of the world.

Harlem tells the story of a group of four best friends trying to navigate their thirties while living in Harlem. Their love lives are a mess and there’s plenty of drama throughout. However, there’s also a heck of a lot of heart. While its own thing, Harlem will undoubtedly be compared to And Just Like That… when it hits later this year simply because of the premise. It’s so much more than that, though, that the comparison would simply undermine Harlem.

Each episode opens with a voice-over by Meagan Good‘s Camille, who is undoubtedly the show’s main protagonist. She’s an anthropology professor at Columbia who is trying to rebuild her life after she implodes her future because of her own fears. While most of the series revolves around her and her chaotic life – both intimately and professionally – Harlem makes sure to shine a light on her best friends, too. Quinn, Angie and Tye are still given time to shine on their own while Camille’s story unfolds.

It’s not always easy to juggle multiple storylines with an ensemble cast, and yet, Harlem seems to have no trouble. The storylines shift almost effortlessly, always ending with the group reunited in the end. You will laugh with these women, and you will cry with these women, enjoying the rollercoaster ride the entire way.

A half-hour drama like Harlem is a rarity. Its main cast is exclusively women of color. Some of those characters belong to the LGBTQ+ community. It’s sex-positive and doesn’t shy away from the problems black Americans continue to face daily. It’s light-hearted at times and is full of heart. It’s also a strong exploration into life in Harlem. More importantly, though, Harlem is the type of show that is needed in this day and age. 

It’s a show that not only celebrates women – it specifically celebrates women of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community. That’s something we don’t see nearly enough in media. So, as streaming services continue to fight for your viewership, Amazon’s Harlem is a show that is rightfully worthy of your time. With each studio seemingly launching its own service these days, it’s easy to get lost in the mix, especially as they continue to build upon their popular IPs. However, Harlem is the rare gem of an original that should not get buried or ignored.

The series hails from Girls Trip writer Tracy Oliver who brings her sense of raunchy comedy to the Amazon series. The relationship between these four women is front and center. We see them as they struggle, we see them as they thrive, and every moment of it is wonderfully realistic. Give yourself a present this holiday season and enjoy the rollercoaster of a ride that Harlem will inevitability take you on. It’s worth it.

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