WGN America in recent years has produced rather impressive original dramas, including the historical Manhattan. Underground parlays further back in American history following a group of slaves who planned to escape via the Underground Railroad. Executive co-produced by John Legend, the series stars Aldis Hodge of Straight Outta Compton and Christopher Meloni. Premieres in March.
2. American Crime
ABC’s second season of this gripping miniseries moves from the West Coast to the Midwest when a community is rattled by rape accusations among the local boy’s high school basketball team. Regina King returns with Andre Benjamin as parents of an accused star player. King won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress for her role in last year’s first season. Airs January 6th, at 9 p.m.
3. Zoe Ever After
BET is winning with Being Mary Jane, so the news of a sitcom starring everyone’s favorite R&B girl next door — Brandy Norwood — is sure to bring in more viewers. Other than her stint on The Game, Brandy’s most recent starring role on TV was in the ’90s favorite Moesha. Old and new fans alike can tune in starting on Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
4. American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson
Ryan Murphy takes a hiatus from the fantastical world of American Horror Story to highlight real life horror stories: great American crime sagas. The initial season will dramatize the OJ Simpson trial from the perspective of Simpson’s legal team and confidants. Cuba Gooding Jr. portrays The Juice alongside an all-star cast. American Crime Story premieres on FX February 2nd.
If you’ve never heard of Issa Rae and a little YouTube series called The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, get familiar. The writer will soon adapt her hilariously realistic series for cable over at HBO. The show details the highs and many lows of J (Rae), a socially awkward sister struggling to win at life’s daily hurdles. No date has been pinpointed for a debut, but it’s currently in production.
6. Marvel’s Luke Cage
Netflix is dropping an astounding 30 original series this year, and this African American hero’s tale will be included. We saw a glimpse of Mike Colter (The Following, Halo: Nightfall) as the indestructible Cage in the stellar Jessica Jones series. His show will also take place in the alleyways of Hell’s Kitchen. Expect an air date later this year.
7. Hit The Floor
VH1’s sexy soap drama about the secrets and lies of a fictional Los Angeles basketball organization returns after almost a year hiatus. A murder amongst frienemies has everyone watching their backs. The game resumes January 18th.
8. The Get Down
Empire’s impact was felt well beyond the bounds of network television as both premium and streaming options have pondered developing their own musical dramas. Netflix has ordered the 1970s-set drama focused on the early development of hip-hop and punk rock among Bronx youth. The show is being helmed by Baz Luhrmann and Shawn Ryan. The cast includes Jimmy Smits and Giancarlo Esposito. Expect it later this year.
9. Shades of Blue
NBC seeks to gain some of the TGIT fame with their own female-led drama. Jennifer Lopez stars as an NYC detective caught in the crosshairs of an FBI investigation against her own boss, Ray Liotta. Loyalties will be tested as she must choose between family or justice. Premieres Thursday, January 7th at 10 p.m.