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Review: ‘Harlem’ S2 is All About Getting Back to Self

Review: ‘Harlem’ S2 is All About Getting Back to Self

Listen, Harlem is 100% Black Sex and the City, and thank goodness for it! In case you were out of the loop, Harlem is the Amazon Prime series created and produced by Tracy Oliver. Oliver wrote and played Nina in Issa Rae’s The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl. She’s probably best known for her 2017 runaway hit, Girls Trip

It’s the Black girlfriends’ energy, which fuels Harlem, and is just as fun, exciting, and messy as you’d hoped. Outside of Meagan Good (Shazam!) and Grace Byers (Empire), the main cast also features Shoniqua Shandai and Jerrie Johnson. 

The series was set up for success from the beginning, with Malcolm D. Lee set to direct the first two episodes, and the rest were directed by women of color. Soon after, Whoopie Goldberg, Rick Fox, and Jasmine Guy were announced. For season 2 we get the radiant Rachel True in a surprise role. 

Meagan Good plays Camille, a professor trying to balance her work life and the men in her life. She’s our classic Carrie and the core of the friend group. Though she’s not the only one that has major storylines. Harlem does a great job of interweaving all of the women’s different storylines in engaging ways. You never feel like you are not getting enough of your fave, and your fave is constantly changing. 

Grace Byers is Quinn, a fashion designer trying to make her own way and discover herself outside of her parent’s money. She’s discovered bisexuality and will explore that in the next season with interesting consequences. Quinn is all about testing her limits, and we’ll see what happens when the Charlotte of the group finally faces a hurdle she can’t clear. 

Jerrie Johnson is Tye, but instead of a lawyer like Miranda, she’s a tech engineer and app creator. She’s an out-and-proud lesbian and kind of the designated f*ckboi of the group. Her friends love and support her even when she gets in her own way. A blast from her past reared its head at the end of season 1, and we’ll see the fallout through season 2. We’ll also see what happens when Tye meets her match; herself.

Shoniqua Shandai is Angie. Samantha makes sure to reach back, and Angie is ready to take the wand! Angie is a singer, actress, and all-around hustler. She and Quinn are cousins, and their relationship, though special, will get tested in season 2. Through it all, Angie never stops being over the top Angie. She goes through men as she goes through scratchers, but always with the thought of hitting the big one in mind. 

At the end of season 1, we saw several changes in our group of boss ladies. Quinn was juggling her feelings for fellow academic Jameson (Sullivan Jones) and the knowledge that the love of her life, Ian (Tyler Lepley) was getting married. She’s also having issues with her mentor and faculty head, Dr. Elise Pruitt (Whoopie Goldberg), and trying to find peace with her mother and hopefully mend their estranged relationship. Quinn is trying to find herself and possibly Ms. Right. She’s got a date with Isabela (Juani Feliz) and is ready to embrace her new role in the queer community… whether they want her there or not. 

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Tye is dealing with her app, a jilted ex, and trying to find someone who won’t annoy her in bed. She’s not having the best of luck, but outside of bed, she becomes fast friends with a new lady, the owner of a plant shop (Rachel True). She helps Tye discover herself and possibly discover that she’s more than just a stereotype. 

Angie is on the search for good luck. A man in a tinfoil hat selling incense told her that she was going to sleep with the most beautiful man in New York and afterward she would have nothing but good luck. No need to tell Angie twice, she starts the search immediately, even posing to be her own twin to make sure all of the bases are covered. The results are mixed! Meanwhile, she discovered some success in work and in love, but will it be at the cost of who she is and how far she’s come? 

Season 1 ended with an explosive cliffhanger that saw Ian and Camille kiss with Ian’s fiance watching unnoticed in the background. Season 2 picks up right there and the results set in motion a series of events that lead to heartbreak, mutual respect, and shifted priorities. These themes run throughout all of the women’s stories. 

One particularly storyline is Quinn’s mental health journey. One thing Harlem does well is showing this journey as realistically as possible. Despite everyone having their own issues they’re dealing with, when they are needed, the ladies show up for one another. 

Harlem is mature but doesn’t forget to be funny, sweet, and endearing. Each character (yes, even Tye) captures these traits in their own unique way. They are far from perfect and several times you may find yourself screaming at the TV about decisions that are being made, but that’s the mark of a good show. One that has you relating to and empathizing with these characters you know like the back of your hand. 

You won’t believe some of the amazing cameos! From Sherri Shepherd and Countess Vaughn, the cast is supported by a lot of fun and memorable guests. 

I highly recommend Harlem! It’s a fantastic and easy watch. You’ll binge it with no regrets. The second season of Harlem will premiere on Amazon Prime on February 3, 2023. 

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