Harlem may not start at its strongest, but the 10-episode comedy certainly improves episode by episode.
This review of the Amazon Original Series Harlem season 1 does not contain any spoilers.
The show comes from the mind of Tracy Oliver, who co-wrote the movies Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016), Girls Trip (2017), and Little (2019), and the comedy series First Wives Club. As for the series itself, it has 10 episodes, all of which run for around 30 minutes in length. Harlem is a modern and stylish comedy that follows the lives of four ambitious (and brilliantly written) women who live in Harlem, New York.
Those four women are Camille (Meagan Good), Angie (Shoniqua Shandai), Quinn (Grace Byers) and Tye (Jerrie Johnson). Camille is a university lecturer who is desperately trying to work her way up the career ladder. But whilst her life seems to be heading in its right direction, will the appearance of her ex Ian (Tyler Lepley) force her into questioning where’s she’s going? And does the arrival of Dr Elise Pruitt (Whoopi Goldberg) create some problems for Camille’s career? Angie is an outgoing and bursting with personality singer who, after failing to “make it”, now sleeps on Quinn’s sofa. After a few career disasters, Angie questions whether she is good enough for the industry. But armed with a mission to achieve, the character of Angie lights up every scene that she is in. As she comes with little to no filter, she has a fabulous vibe no matter where she goes.
Angie’s “roommate” Quinn, who doesn’t charge rent, is hopeless in love and even more hopeless at impressing her mother. Her goal is to become a successful fashion designer, but with her mother criticizing her every move, can she prove herself worthy enough even if her business is failing? As for Tye, she is a successful businesswoman who has created a dating app for queer individuals. But with her share of secrets, will her past prove to be her downfall? Whilst the four of them are uniquely individual, they work blazingly well as a cast. These four characters are, without a doubt, the best part of Harlem.
As for the 10 episodes, the quality of them improves the further you are with the season. The first episode is not the greatest of the bunch, nor are the four main characters that great to watch. But after the third episode, the series comes into itself. The levels of humor improve, and the characters become far more likable. As Harlem is a comedy series, the storylines are quite typical of what you’d expect in a comedy, i.e work troubles, relationship dramas. But with the sheer quality of the characters, it still works. On the whole, even though the storylines have been done before, Harlem feels fresh and modern. The vibe of the show is great to experience, and it’s exciting to think about where the show could go if it returns for a second season.
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