For years there were many television shows that featured impressive groups of women navigating their lives. I’d watch them and daydream about what my reality would look like in my 20s and 30s. The characters' lives felt admirable but somehow unrealistic since those shows never featured characters that were reflective of my friends or me. But how times have changed. Now that I’m in my 30s, there are quite a few shows that feel familiar and authentic. One of my faves is Tracy Oliver’s Harlem, of which the second season makes its emergence on February 3, 2023. But just in case you’re like me and need a refresher, we got you.
Spoilers are ahead.
First, let’s recap the crew. The show stars Camille (Meagan Good), Quinn (Grace Byers), Tye (Jerrie Johnson), and Angie (Shoniqua Shandai), four fabulous yet flawed Black women living in Harlem. In season one’s last episode, Camille asked a crucial question: "Do I go after my fresh start or do I follow my heart?” It was a quick moment, but it defined much of the season. Although the women’s issues vary, they are all battling with that decision. From work struggles to dating, they’re trying to decide if they should take a safe route or do what fulfills them. I think that’s something we can all relate to. This is why I am so happy the Amazon Prime series is making its return.
So, let’s relive what’s going on in our new favorite girl gang’s lives before season two premieres.
CamilleAmazon Studios What GIF by HarlemGiphy
Camille is a bit off-center, overly focused, loveable, and appears to have everything together – except she doesn’t. No matter how much we root for her, she makes the wrong decisions. For example, when Dr. Pruitt, played by Whoopi Goldberg, announces that she’s granting the new coveted associate professor position to another Black professional, Camille feels understandably discouraged and vents about it to her former bae (more on that soon, chile). Later, Camille decides to quit her current adjunct role and give Dr. Pruitt a piece of her mind. She shares how much of an asset she is to the university and why her social media presence and teaching style deserve recognition. That makes sense, right? Except she does this by showing up at the professor’s house late at night after drinking way too much and almost falling down the steps. All bad, sis.
Then there’s her love life. She has two beautiful men who desire her attention. She met Jamison (Sullivan Jones) after they both spoke on a panel for the university. He is supportive, fine, and serious about his intentions with her. So much so that once they're official, he invites her to move with him to Chicago. Unfortunately for him, Camille’s heart belongs to her engaged ex Ian, played by the handsome Tyler Lepley – who coincidentally, she broke up with before they planned to live in Paris together. (Clearly, leaving Harlem is a trigger for her. It could be because she grew up a latchkey kid and has some unresolved issues with her mom.) Anyway, Ian and Camille have a special bond that is still very much alive.
Their back-and-forth sparks a lot of crazy moments throughout the season. From Camille almost sleeping with one of her former students to a crazily dangerous Uber ride, Ian fuels a lot of her madness. One of the most memorable moments happened early in the season when they shared a passionate kiss only moments after Camille met his “why is she so perfect” fiancée. But love always wins because, in the end, Camille calls it quits with Jamison and shows up a day before Ian’s wedding to finally express how she feels and kiss him again.
I get it. They care for each other, but seriously? They couldn't figure that out before the wedding announcements went out and Camille broke Jamison’s heart? Oh, and Ian's fiancée saw the kiss. Yikes.
QuinnNo Way Prime Video GIF by HarlemGiphy
Then there’s Quinn. You know the nice girl who tries so hard and it just doesn’t work out for her? That’s Quinn. For most of the season, her dating life is in shambles. From her purse getting stolen after a date abandons her at the club to showing up to a “dinner” that was actually a pyramid scheme meeting, you start to feel pretty bad for her. Still, she holds onto her idea of love and what it should look like. That’s until she decides to try something or someone new at a strip club. His name is Shawn, played by Robert Ri’chard, and he takes her out of her element. He’s different from her usual checklist; he’s a stripper and a dad. Although there’s a clear interest there, they deal with a few hiccups.
Initially, Quinn tries to tuck away her feelings and keep it casual. Luckily, that doesn’t last long because, well, she’s her. But still breaking free of her usual “rules'' presents some problems. She even lies about his career and where he went to college when chatting with peers at a fundraiser, making Shawn understandably uncomfortable. Eventually, they work it out, and a budding relationship seems to be in the works. That is until she spends a fun-filled day with Isabela, a hopeful politician and potential mentor turned friend she met through her mother, and her magnetic personality and dedication make Quinn rethink her life and sexuality. In the season one finale, Quinn drunkenly walks into Isabela’s office and invites her on a date. When she agrees, we find ourselves cheering for Quinn’s boldness yet hoping she doesn’t slip into her unhealthy ways.
Professionally she’s in a unique space. After leaving her VP Corporate position she opened Quinn Jacob, a sustainable boutique. It’s still in the beginning stages but she is very devoted to growing it. She even designed Mila’s [Ian’s fiancée] wedding dress. (I know – wild.) Moving on, Quinn comes from a wealthy family who has consistently supported her. But it took a while for her to figure out what she wanted to do, which created a tense relationship between her and her hilariously shady mother, played by the legendary Jasmine Guy. Hopefully, this dream and new relationship are here to stay because I think we all wanna see Quinn win.
TyeIm Fine Amazon Studios GIF by HarlemGiphy
I’d describe Tye as confident, ambitious, loyal, and guarded. She is the creator of Q, a successful queer dating app for people of color. It made her very successful and even landed her a spread in Forbes magazine. Also, unlike the other ladies, she has no issues in the dating department. Her problem is relationships. She likes to be the brains and the boss in her situations and that rarely leads to something promising. When the girls call her out on it, she tries to venture out and date outside of her usual type. This allows us to be a fly on the wall as she explores a few short-lived hilarious situations.
But everything comes to a head when she arrives at her Forbes interview and learns that the interviewer is a woman she had a one-night stand with. I should point out that she’s a white woman and Tye prefers not to date outside of her race. As her storyline with the journalist continues, the show explores interracial dating and preferences.
Another element I appreciate Harlem highlighting through Tye’s character is women’s health. In multiple episodes, Tye complains of intense period pain. However, like many of us, she shrugs it off. It takes her passing out on the subway to get help. The doctor ignores most of her complaints and says she’s anemic. A few days pass and Tye is preparing to be the keynote speaker at AfroTech. However, she’s hospitalized again and learns she has a ruptured ovarian cyst, polyps, and fibroids; this time the doctor says she may need a hysterectomy. As he continues to give feedback he reveals that the surgery’s approval was made by her husband, who surprisingly walks in with flowers.
Thanks to a flashback episode and a heated discussion, we learn that Tye abandoned her hometown to start a new life and live in her truth. That means she walked away from her former friends, family, and apparently a husband and never looked back. This background made it a lot clearer why she has trouble moving on because she never fully let go of her past.
AngiePrime Video Laughing GIF by HarlemGiphy
Finally, there’s Angie, the free-spirited, hilarious, and creative that every friend group needs. We learn pretty early on that she is a talented singer and once had a record deal. Unfortunately, it didn’t go the way she planned and now she’s living on Quinn’s couch. While it’s clear that the two have a beautiful friendship, there’s an uneasiness there. Angie has a bit of resentment toward Quinn for her wealthy upbringing. And Quinn wishes Angie would be a bit more realistic in her search for a job, especially after she turns down a paid gig.
Still, when Angie meets up with her Uber driver bae who she feels is her soulmate, only to learn after sex that he lives in his car, she takes the new gig. Because this can’t be it. The gig in question is Get Out: the Musical. Yes, it’s as crazy as it sounds. But the production leads to a lot of funny moments and a bomb scene where Angie beautifully addresses white fragility. While she’s chasing her dreams you’ll see her pursuing a few dating options, like her bisexual cast mate and friend with benefits, Eric, to Uberbae and more, it’s a good time. While Angie provides a lot of laughs in the first season, it’s clear she’s working through her issues as well.
I love TV shows that are relatable yet fun to watch. Harlem is definitely at the top of my list this month. Make sure y'all check it out too. Season 2 airs on Friday, February 3, 2023, on Amazon Prime.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Amy Sussman/ Getty Images
- ‘Harlem’ Star Jerrie Johnson On The Act Of Self-Choosing & Following Her Desires ›
- Meagan Good's Looks Almost Cost Her The Starring Role In Her New Series 'Harlem' ›
- Meagan Good Stars In New Comedy About Best Friends In Their Thirties Still Trying To Figure It Out ›
- 'Harlem' Presents A Refreshing, New Take On Black Male Bisexuality ›
Kirby Carroll grew up in VA but now calls Atlanta, GA home. She has a passion for creating content and helping brands grow through storytelling and public relations. When not immersed in work, you can find her sipping a mimosa at brunch or bingeing a new TV drama on Netflix. Keep up with her on social media at @askKirbyCarroll.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images