Throughout the history of television, writers and producers have created many popular shows that explore the complex and often dark world of crime. However, some of the most powerful and impactful crime dramas have been those that center on Black characters and communities. These shows offer a unique perspective on crime, justice, and law enforcement in America while showcasing the complexity and depth of Black characters.
In this article, we’ll delve into the world of Black crime television, exploring some of the most popular and critically acclaimed shows produced over the years. These shows, which have captivated audiences of all backgrounds, have helped shine a light on the experiences and struggles of Black communities in America and have given voice to characters that are often overlooked or misrepresented in mainstream media.
The following are the Top 10 hottest black crime TV shows you should look out for:
1. The Wire (2002 – 2008)
One of the most popular black crime TV shows ever, The Wire is set in Baltimore and Maryland and examines the city’s drug trade, political landscape and social institutions through the eyes of both law enforcement and the drug dealers they are trying to catch.
Each season focuses on a different aspect of the city’s social and political landscape, including the drug trade, the city government, the public school system, the newspaper industry, and the police department. The show is known for its complex characters, realistic portrayal of inner-city life, and nuanced exploration of systemic issues such as poverty, racism, and corruption.
2. Power (2014 – 2020)
The show follows the life of James St Patrick, also known as “Ghost”, a drug dealer attempting to go legit and leave the criminal underworld behind.
“Power” is known for its high-stakes drama, complex characters, and exploration of themes such as loyalty, family, and the struggle for power. The show has been praised for its realistic portrayal of the drug trade and the criminal underworld, as well as its strong performances and tight writing.
“Power” has been a commercial and critical success, with its popularity leading to spin-offs and sequels, such as “Power Book II: Ghost” and “Power Book III: Raising Kanan.”
3. Godfather Of Harlem (2018)
The show is set in the early 1960’s and is based on the story of a real-life African American crime boss who was active in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City during the 1930s and 1940s.
The show explores themes such as race, politics, and the criminal underworld, as Bumpy navigates the challenges of maintaining his power and influence in a changing world. Alongside Johnson, the series features a large cast of characters, including other members of the criminal underworld, law enforcement officials, and civil rights activists.
One of the central conflicts in the series is the relationship between Johnson and the Italian-American Mafia, who are also vying for control of the criminal underworld in Harlem. The show also explores the broader social and political context of the era, including the civil rights movement and the tensions between black and white communities in New York City.
“The Godfather of Harlem” has been praised for its storytelling, writing, and performances, particularly that of Forest Whitaker in the lead role.
4. Snowfall (2017- present)
The show is set in the 1980’s and the story follows a young African- American entrepreneur named Franklin Saint who becomes involved in the crack cocaine era in LA.
It follows multiple characters, including a young drug dealer, a Mexican wrestler, and a CIA agent, as they navigate the dangerous world of drug trafficking.
5. Top Boy (2011-2013)
The show is set in and around the fictional Summerhouse estate in Hackney, East London, and follows the lives of drug dealers, gang members, and other residents.
The series was created by Ronan Bennett and has been praised for its realistic and nuanced portrayal of life in an inner-city housing estate. It explores themes such as poverty, race, violence, and the impact of the drug trade on communities.
The main characters in the series include Dushane and Sully, two drug dealers trying to establish themselves as the top players in the local drug trade, as well as various other members of their crew and rival gangs. The series also features several other characters, including residents of the estate who are not involved in the drug trade but are still affected by its presence.
6. For Life (2020)
This show is loosely based on the life of Isaac Wright Jr., who was wrongfully convicted of drug trafficking in the 1990s and spent over seven years in prison before successfully appealing his conviction and becoming a licensed attorney.
While in prison, Wallace studies law and works as a legal representative for other inmates, and eventually manages to secure his own release by overturning his conviction. He then sets up a law firm to help other wrongfully convicted prisoners while seeking to reunite with his family and clear his name.
The show has been praised for its portrayal of the flaws and injustices in the criminal justice system, as well as its exploration of the impact of wrongful convictions on individuals and their families.
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