We’ve finally made it to the end of broadcast network pilot season!
With the last of upfront presentations completed, virtually every pilot has either been picked up or passed over by its network (with the exception of Kenya Barris’ Lilly Singh and Shameik Moore-led Bright Futures, which is still in contention at NBC, and Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba’s L.A.’s Finest, which is being considered at cable giant Charter).
Based solely on the trailers, I’ve ranked the new series from ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW that have black leads and/or series regulars. They are ranked in order from the ones that, in my opinion, look not-so-good to those that look the best. Keep in mind, this is based only on the cut of the trailer and not any preliminary pilot screeners.
Also, be aware this isn’t the full list of trailers for new shows as we still have trailers for new series that have black talent that have yet to premiere:
CBS: Ava DuVernay’s The Red Line, Fam (starring Tone Bell, Nina Dobrev and Sheryl Lee Ralph)
NBC: The Enemy Within (starring Morris Chestnut), The Village (starring Frankie Faison, Lorraine Toussaint and Jerod Haynes)
Without further ado, check out my initial thoughts below:
18. The Cool Kids (FOX)
David Alan Grier is a legend but for the simple fact that this is considered a companion for the wretched revivial of Last Man Standing.….no.
17. A Million Little Things (ABC)
First impressions of the trailer: This show REALLY wants to be This Is Us. Like…really. The cast featuring Romany Malco and Christina Marie Moses is stacked, but I’m wondering whether it can avoid the comparisons to the NBC juggernaut. I also hope it has some lighthearted moments because it seems quite heavy.
16. New Amsterdam (NBC)
First impressions of the trailer: Most people have cop show fatigue, but I have medical drama fatigue…and a bit of Ryan Eggold fatigue, to be honest. But well wishes to Freema Agyeman here because she needs to be cast in all of the things. Jocko Sims is also a series regular.
15. The Rookie (ABC)
First impressions of the trailer: A cop drama with Nathan Fillion as a 40-year-old rookie officer is the most ABC thing ever. The trailer gives me a lot of generic feels, but we need more Afton Williamson, who is always badass, and Titus Makin looks good here, too. Plus, Richard T. Jones as…not a Tyler Perry villain? Whoa!
14. FBI (CBS)
First impressions of the trailer: Everything about this absolutely screams “Dick Wolf” procedural, for better or worse. I’m here for Still Star-Crossed standout Ebonee Noel, but otherwise it seems like any other Wolf television show. I’ll probably still watch, though, and I wish Connie Nielsen, who appears in the trailer, was still onboard.
13. The Fix (ABC)
First impressions of the trailer: So Marcia Clark wants to bring us a fictional version of the O.J. trial? No, literally they want us to learn what would happen if O.J. kept killing. Bet. I’ve got to say, though, as much as I don’t want to be interested in this, I am, mainly because of Robin Tunney.
12. Happy Together (CBS)
First impressions of the trailer: If you didn’t know why before, this trailer shows you why Damon Wayans Jr. was the most in-demand comedy actor. He and Amber Stevens West are electric in this trailer and clearly have massive chemistry. However, like many pilots this season, I’m not sure how the premise will hold up over the season. But, in the hands of Stevens West and Wayans, we should be in for a treat.
11. Whiskey Cavalier (ABC, held for midseason)
First impressions of the trailer: So this kind of reminds me of Shondaland’s The Catch, and I mean the version of the show we ended up with, not the fantastic trailer that we got in 2016 around upfronts time. Despite being a bit uneven in tone like the aforementioned show, the trailer makes this show look very watchable, especially with Lauren Cohan in action and seeing Tyler James Williams continuing to flex his acting muscle and not being typecast as a young Chris Rock.
10. The Passage (FOX)
First impressions of the trailer: This pilot has been redeveloped a lot, hopefully for the better. I’m getting a lot of The Gifted vibes. The trailer is thrilling, but I can already see some white savior criticism here with Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s character, but his young co-lead Saniyya Sidney is already a massive scene-stealer. Watch for her. Also…this is a vampire thriller. Show more vampires!
9. Grand Hotel (ABC, held for midseason)
First impressions of the trailer: I feel like I understood what was going to happen during Grand Hotel’s entire first season during this loaded, yet at the same time, pristine trailer. Roselyn Sanchez is on fire, and I can already feel the scene-chewing that is about to be done by soap alums Denise Tonyz and Bryan Craig — and I’m here for it! Again, I already know what’s about to happen here, but the multicultural soap which also stars Wendy Raquel Robinson and Chris Warren Jr. (in the High School Musical supporting actor’s biggest role yet) will have my eye. This probably will rank higher after viewing the pilot, but I just know the trailer could have been stronger.
8. Single Parents (ABC)
First impressions of the trailer: Who knew Leighton Meester was a comedy queen?! When this got picked up instead of Ryan Michelle Bathe and Cameron Boyce in Steps, I was bummed, but ABC clearly saw some magic in this which I can also see, and the trailer conveys. Kimrie Lewis portrays one of the black parents in this series and is hilarious in the trailer.
7. The Neighborhood (CBS)
Six words: Cedric the Entertainer and Tichina Arnold. No matter how much you may take issue with the premise, I fully believe this show will be hilarious, and they come alive in this trailer. So, I like this trailer pretty much because Tichina Arnold deserved an Emmy for every season of the underappreciated Starz comedy Survivor’s Remorse. So yes, I’m biased; carry on.
6. Rel (FOX)
I’ve seen a lot of mixed feedback surrounding Rel, and while I’m not exactly sure why, I’m sure the trailer isn’t doing it any justice as a good amount of it is a monologue that Lil Rel Howery gives to a cell phone. Jordan L. Jones (another pilot season favorite) looks like he’ll steal a few scenes along with social media star Jessica “Jess Hilarious” Moore — and it’s Sinbad’s first series regular role in 20 years! Maybe the formula will tighten up after the pilot…
5. God Friended Me (CBS)
First impressions of the trailer: I know Brandon Micheal Hall is a star. Broadcast television clearly knows Brandon Micheal Hall is a star. I’m surprised this is the next vehicle he’s been given, but it looks super promising…sort of like a new-age Touched by an Angel. The trailer slightly gives away most of this season’s plot, but I’m not really bothered because there is just so much potential here. Plus, it is so great that we get to see Joe Morton on TV so quickly after his Scandal run.
4. Charmed (The CW)
First impressions of the trailer: Don’t listen to your Twitter timeline. I know the original holds a special place in your hearts. Sadly enough, I don’t believe some people will give the show the benefit of the doubt as I’ve seen super fans toss around the term “bad acting” to describe this all-star, stellar cast consisting of Into the Badlands standout Madeline Mantock and Fruitvale Station’s Melonie Diaz. Don’t ruin the party, and let those who want to enjoy it, enjoy it! Also Ser’Darius Blain (who needs to be leading his own pilot very soon) co-stars.
3. Proven Innocent (FOX)
First impressions of the trailer: I love a good legal drama. And for this one to have the ever-fantastic Russell Hornsby and Nikki M. James from the underappreciated political dark comedy BrainDead, it’s sure to be a must-see. The trailer is also a good balance of what to expect from the Rachelle Lefevre-toplined series, which seems like a much better redo of ABC’s recent and short-lived Hayley Atwell vehicle Conviction.
2. Manifest (NBC)
First impressions of the trailer: This trailer fully looped me in the entire time. Like the trailer at the pole position of this list, you can’t deny how this one gets you. Described as Lost told backward, aside from soon-to-be-breakout-hit-that-we-didn’t-get-a-trailer-for, The Village, Manifest can be the next solid hit for everyone with the feels. Sorry, A Million Little Things and New Amsterdam.
1. All-American (The CW)
First impressions of the trailer: Even if this plot isn’t quite your style, the Friday Night Lights-meets-The O.C. drama All-American is the best cut trailer for upfronts/pilot season, hands-down. I’m not 100 percent sold on UK newcomer Daniel Ezra, whom the network and studio must have a ton of faith in to have him topline this as his first big stateside role considering the amount of young black actors seeking work right now, but he looks very very solid here. Basically, All-American looks to have every successful trait that has ever been needed for a teen drama and had a wide open field (no pun intended) to dominate. There is a lot of cliches going on here, but if it doesn’t fall into these tropes, it can work.