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.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/ Getty Images