‘Harlem’ dresses up yet another quartet for success from ‘Girls Trip’s’ writer

On paper, there’s nothing particularly new about “Harlem,” which focuses on yet another quartet of 30-something women navigating life and love in the big city. But the execution of this Amazon series from “Girls Trip” writer Tracy Oliver lifts it above the norm, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments — starting with “Get Out: The Musical” — to go with the soapier ones about relationships and careers.

For Black women, anthropology professor Camille (Meagan Good) notes in voiceover at the outset, “The number of actual dateable men is bleak. … We’re dealing with a real-life man deficit.”

Still, finding a guy is only one of the problems that Camille and her closest friends face, with the successful entrepreneur Tye (Jerrie Johnson), who’s gay, having her own difficulties meeting women.

Meanwhile, Quinn (“Empire’s” Grace Byers) is struggling with her fashion-design business, forcing her to grudgingly seek money from her wealthy mom (Jasmine Guy), while Angie (Shoniqua Shandai) is trying to jump-start her performing career with a role in the aforementioned musical version of “Get Out,” if she can manage to keep her mouth shut about the show’s quirkier aspects and her White co-star. (“Harlem” might be worth watching for the songs showcased during those rehearsals alone.)

As for Camille, who serves as the show’s center, she is both pining for the guy that got away while dealing with fresh headaches at work, with a new head of her department (played by Whoopi Goldberg) who appears to disapprove of almost everything she does.

As noted, “Harlem” comes amid a time of abundance for similarly themed series, with HBO Max’s “Sex and the City” revival due shortly, following “The Sex Lives of College Girls” and “Run the World” on Starz.

Still, funny is funny, and thanks to the combination of writing, casting and playfulness exemplified by that “Get Out” wrinkle, the characters and situations consistently pop here despite their familiarity. The show also leans into relevant topics, which includes Tye — who’s marketing a dating app for Black people — wondering if she’ll be perceived as a sellout for dating a White woman.

“Harlem” breezes through its 10-episode first season with a confidence that its central players often lack, with plenty of runway left for more. In the process, it offers another reminder that a series needn’t reinvent the wheel to deliver a worthwhile ride.

“Harlem” premieres Dec. 3 on Amazon.

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Steve Perez

Steve Perez

Perez, born and raised in Ventura County on February 16th, started his career as a house party DJ back while he was in high school. He then became a local radio DJ for KMIX 106 in Ojai, CA Saturday nights from 9 pm to midnight. In 1998, he was offered a position at  KSEQ Q97…

D.R Daily

D.R Daily

Born in Los Angeles, California, Dave Randall was destined to be in the entertainment industry. Dave got his start in radio with internships at KNX Radio in Los Angeles as well as Cal State Long Beach University Campus’ Radio KSUL, where he also attended school in 1980. Dave then moved on to work in various…