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A (somewhat) recent diversity audit reported by CNN found that Netflix could use a little more Latinx content. This article also revealed that researchers found that Netflix had little content for Native American / Indigenous / First Nations centering, for content centering for disabled people, and for content centering for LGBTQ characters. (Note: this research was on original Netflix content, not film and television acquired by other studios.) They have actually made significant strides in programming black lead characters, going from 16 percent to 22 percent in just a few short years gone up . Of course, some of these are movies like Set It Up or Love Guaranteed, in which a black love interest is the only one for miles. Or, if it’s an adaptation of a book, it’s a book like Bridgerton in which the original material, as far as the eye can see, had no blacks. And when it comes down to it, while I’m enjoying these stories and all the other love stories Netflix has thrown my way, I don’t find what I’m really looking for: romantic stories (complete with a HEA), the queer black center people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there aren’t any. (Sure, they don’t show up on my random scrolling, but since my search for romantic stories around the HEA made it, my algorithm is full of Korean and Filipino romances and romcoms …: shrug emoji 🙂 But for the most part, it can I can find one or two of these things, but not all. And they are definitely not from queer creators.
(And look. Sure. Ryan Murphy can basically do anything. I’ve been joking about it. A lot of his properties have weird blacks. But there are definitely blind spots in his ideas, and honestly I just want black creators to be made by involved top-down when it comes to stories that focus on blacks, especially queer blacks.)
So, dear Netflix, please adjust these romance novels and center queer blacks. I promise we’ll all watch the shit out of them.
Standalone novels for customization
Treasure from Rebekah Weatherspoon
In Treasure, Alexis and Trisha meet in a strip club – in a get-together that is cute to end all meet cuts, Trisha gives Alexis a lap dance at a bachelorette party and then they meet in class. Romance and STEM follow. This one is perfect for a function; It’s not very long and can definitely be completed in 90 minutes of excellent storytelling.
Likewise. Campus romances are what people want! We all run the Felicity Marathon remembering the days of dorms, crushes, and classmates. This is the perfect time to give us a new college classic.
(PS: Once people get their hands on their Cowboys of California series, they’ll be looking for more weather spoons. I know. They know. Be ready, or even ahead of the game.)
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Things Chencia C. Higgins hoped for
When Trisha moves to Houston to make a fresh start, the last thing she can expect is a relationship with one of the city’s up and coming underground artists. But the two women can’t get enough of each other, and hopefully that’s enough if Xeno’s star continues to rise.
A romance with a queer rapper / hip-hop artist? From Houston? I mean hello Perfect timing, Netflix. The original music you could come up with would earn you pennies from Spotify and Apple Music. Or so.
Meet Jack Harbon’s Cute Club
We need more book club romances on screen, amirite? Jordan runs a romance book club. When he buys the next books, he meets Rex, the new choppy bookseller with uninformed opinions on romance. But then Rex shows up at the book club.
I know right? This is another great length production. It has brisk, intelligent dialogue and a story that the medium could well use. You’d have to build on some of the internal conflicts, but guess what? This is what they are paid for.
Romantic series to customize
The Spies Who Loved Her Show by Katrina Jackson
Pink slip by Katrina Jackson
Starting with Pink Slip, The Spies Who Loved Her (and the spin-off series The Spies Who Loved Him) take us to an agency full of excellent spies and … well, the people they fall in love with. Sometimes they are part of the mission, while sometimes they fail. Some stories are lumped together in one novel while others have a few different stories – perfect for a writer’s room looking for a long project to get multiple episodes out of.
While not all of the characters in these books are queer and / or black, this universe was designed for serialization. And since Katrina is still writing them, there will be something new for a long time.
The Brown Sisters Trilogy by Talia Hibbert
Take a note, Dani Brown from Talia Hibbert
Starting with Get a Life, Chloe Brown, the Brown Sisters trilogy takes us through journeys of love and self-discovery for each of the three sisters Chloe, Dani and Eve. (Oh my god. I just found their names to be alphabetical. Right now.) Anyone could be a feature, a la To All The Boys, or we could all go out with 8 episode seasons. Shoot, bring in the people from Skybriar and Ravenswood too. Have one of them pay a royal visit to Cherry Neita. Do anything because Talia deserves it.
Technically, Dani Brown is the only one who verbally identifies as queer, but I’ll allow it because these women deserve to be on screen. This, a UK property with Black Brits by a Black Brit, would be a huge draw for people who crave more British accents on their screens. (And honestly, Adjoa Andoh would be a great Gigi.)
The Dreamers series by Adriana Herrera
American dreamer by Adriana Herrera
This series of four books focuses on four strange friends from the Caribbean, all with different Black, Latin American, and Afro-Latin American identities. The first in the series, American Dreamer, is about a Dominican food truck owner who dreams big and looks at Jude, a local librarian who comes regularly to buy food and flirt. All four books deal with love, friendship, family, identity and social justice.
And hey, let’s just throw in mangoes and mistletoe for a treat. We need another story about cooking contests up here.
The Reluctant Royals Series and the Runaway Royals Series by Alyssa Cole
Once ghostly, twice shy of Alyssa Cole
This is another series that doesn’t feature a full cast of queer characters, but of the five novels and two short stories, there are five black women who verbally identify as queer. So let’s do this. (Plus, Alyssa is weird herself, so everything she creates is technically weird, yes?) Starting with A Princess In Theory, this series and its spinoff series introduces us to people in power learning how to use it, and other people figuring out how to put their shit together. It’s great for a nice long series. With the location jumping (and the countries that don’t exist) in the longer novels, it might cost a little more than the other features, but we’ve seen what you can do with Netflix.
(Helpful? A princess has already been chosen as an option by Frolic in theory, so just go … take care of her.)
As a bonus, how would you deal with meaty etc what Hulu (and Samantha Irby actually lol) did with Shrill? Just a nice, ongoing series about a fat black queer woman with a chronic illness and some maybe life goals who find themselves and maybe even fall in love (or at least find a partner).
And while they’re older than YA, I could really do something with the ace rep in two very different books:
- A Sound of Stars by Alecia Dow who definitely should have the writer on board to skate the colonizer / colonization line as well as she does. And a big CGI budget.
- If it makes you happy from Claire Kann because yes.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list, just a few things I’ve actually read that I’d like to see translated for a whole new audience.
So yeah, Netflix. There are people out there making amazing black queer romance content. We only ask that you represent them well, with dignity and honor. Don’t be HBO. We want happy things. Give it to us. It will be worth it.
(But I was serious about Ryan Murphy.)
Dear Netflix, I have your Latinx adjustments you need