This October 1st, BET’s struggling sister network, Centric, will be rebranded as “BET Her.” A 24-hour network for African American women.
According to Variety, the rebranding of Centric as BET Her is “an effort to strengthen the channel’s appeal to African-American women. Centric launched in October 2009 as a rebrand of what was then BET on Jazz.”
For years now, Centric had already started an unofficial lean towards focusing on Black women for their content. Back in November 2014, the network subtly changed its’ subheading to “The First Network Designed for Black Women.” They started airing new episodes of the cancelled Queen Latifah produced VH1 show, “Single Ladies,” as well as docu-series featuring all women like “From the Bottom Up.”
However, the network is much more overt with its’ focus purely on Black Women now:
This made me think:
If there was ever a network created just for BLACK MEN called “BET Him,” would there be any uproar or dissent?
I mean, there are plenty of networks directed to men out there already: ESPN, FX, Spike TV and Esquire Network comes to mind. But none of these networks are specifically catering to BLACK MEN. With hundreds of niche networks out there, is that even a thing we could imagine existing in our lifetimes?
One could make the argument that, besides sports related programming, there are not enough show ideas out there that Black Men would even care about. I disagree.
As this website demonstrates daily, Black men have varied interests and television watching habits. To prove this viewpoint, I though it would be fun to pitch our own show ideas for the hypothetical “BET Him” network. Cypher Avenue editor Octavius Williams already created a show idea that would be perfect for our network for Black men, here are some others:
1. EASY RAWLINS (The Series)
The everyday man detective, Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, created by Walter Mosley in a series of mystery novels, was adapted for the screen back in 1995 for, “Devil in a Blue Dress,” starring Denzel Washington as Easy.
In the source material, the character lives in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles throughout the 1940s to 1960s. But a 10-12 episode network television version of character could easily be updated to modern times.
Last we heard, FX was supposedly developing a series adapted by Josh Boone, a lanky white guy from Virginia Beach who wrote and direct the upcoming X-Men: The New Mutants film. I’m not saying that he can’t do a great job with the series, but the show made for and by Black men on “BET Him” might ring truer to the source material.
2. MKBHD aka The Marques Brownlee Tech Show
With 5 million subscribers and over 700 million views on YouTube, many of you already know about Marques Brownlee, the 23 year old online tech reviewer. He already has a huge fan base and deep ties in the tech community thanks to his high quality video reviews of tech products.
On top of that, its rumored that Brownlee has become a multi-millionaire from his YouTube channel that started 8 years ago when he was only 14 years old:
Standing at 6’3″ tall and very easy on the eyes, a tech series featuring reviews and interviews by Marques Brownlee would definitely be a perfect fit for “BET Him.”
3. Invisible Life (The Series) and B-Boy Blues (The Series)
For Black gay men (like myself), E. Lynn Harris and James Earl Hardy were their first introduction to what it was like to be gay. If you were like me and you read novels by these writers while tucked away in a local library, you know that these were our adolescent peeks into what our older lives may be like.
Hard to believe that none of their works have been adapted to the large or small screens.
My first gay novel, E. Lynn Harris’ “Invisible Life,” was listed as one of the top “20 Classic Works of gay Literature” by the Los Angeles Times. Spanning several novels (“Just As I Am” and “Abide With Me”), we follow the story of Raymond as he makes the journey of self discovery. The recap of the first book alone could fill a season or two of television:
Synopsis: Law school, girlfriends, and career choices were all part of Raymond Tyler’s life, but there were other, more terrifying issues for him to confront. Being black was tough enough, but Raymond was becoming more and more conscious of sexual feelings that he knew weren’t “right.” He was completely committed to Sela, his longtime girlfriend, but his attraction to Kelvin, whom he had met during his last year in law school, had become more than just a friendship. Fleeing to New York to escape both Sela and Kelvin, Raymond finds himself more confused than ever before. New relationships–both male and female–give him enormous pleasure but keep him from finding the inner peace and lasting love he so desperately desires.
James Earl Hardy’s celebrated (and sex-heavy) 6-book “B-Boy Blues” series could also definitely work on our hypothetical “BET him” network as a 10-episode show.
Synopsis: Mitchell Crawford always wished, hoped, and dreamed for a RUFFNECK – a hip-hop-lovin’, street-struttin’, cool posin’, crazy crotch-grabbin’ brotha. And he finally finds one in Raheim Rivers, who is a vision of lust: six feet tall and 215 pounds of mocha-chocolate muscle. Mitchell knows Raheim will take him for a walk on the wild side, especially between the sheets. But he doesn’t count on getting behind Raheim’s mask – and finding someone he can love.
4. BROTHERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
Co-created by real life brothers Dawud Anyabwile and Guy A. Sims in 1990, the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series has been a visually breathtaking work or art that has inspired a generation of new artists.
The unique visual style of Dawud Anyabwile’s art would be perfect for an animated series on “BET Him.” I can even imagine the great voice work from both unknown actors and celebrities to add an even greater flair to the “Blackness” of the comic book.
5. BLACK MALE ENTREPRENEURS (The Docu-Series)
A show featuring nothing but inspiring tales of young & old, past & present Black Male Entrepreneurs. Can you imagine that? No other network would even consider doing anything like this but a fake network like “BET Him.”
Flimed in docu-series form, we would see these entrepreneurs tell their origin stories in interviews and give keys to their success for other men out there looking to start a business as well.
Imagine how encouraging a show like that would be to young boys of all ages. It would show them first hand that they could reach their dreams with hard work and dedication, no matter what their current circumstances were.
A network series like this could also show the world that Black men are more than the stereotypes that the media depicts of us.
Shows based on original ideas, inspired from books or featuring real life public figures, the possibilities are endless. What show ideas would you pitch for the hypothetical “BET Him” network?