One of the best outcomes of a streaming environment is excess. A variety of platforms offer a unique range of programs varying in quality, genre, and film style. Starz has clawed its way to its current status as a reputable competitor. Here are some of the many shows that made Starz the underrated powerhouse that it is today.
Run the World
Run the World follows a group of four ambitious women who wish to thrive together. Created by Leigh Davenport, the series has been commended for its stellar storylines. It would be easy to compare the show to the popular Girlfriends or Sex in the City, but the comparisons begin and end with the idea of a fearsome foursome taking over the city. As The New York Times puts it, the showrunners simply offer the same “feel-good TV” that mainstream audiences found appealing with Sex in the City, but that’s where comparisons end.
The soul of Run the World is baked with authenticity and comedy. Based in Harlem, the show revels in its blackness unapologetically, encompassing a wider definition of what it looks like to be a Black American. Whether it be the sexual liaisons of the main protagonists to the ethnic makeup of the friend group, the accurate depictions of the Black experience for women in their 30s are not performative or clunky but rather feel genuine. Sondi, Renee, Ella, and Whitney are women who may live in our neighborhoods and work at the same facilities, the screenwriting prompts us to look at them as if they were our friends and family.
Following the legacy of shows like the aforementioned Girlfriends, Insecure, and I May Destroy You, Run the World continues a legacy of presenting Blackness in all shades. Much like the network hit Abbott Elementary, shows like Run the World help humanize already marginalized communities, giving them the voice and power to dictate how their stories play on television.
The star-studded franchise Power continues to captivate international audiences after several seasons and spinoffs. With celebrity cast members like Omari Hardwick, Naturi Naughton, 50 Cent, and Mary J Blige, it’s a miracle that their star power hasn’t overshadowed the dynamic storylines the show has to offer.
The series follows Ghost, a father, drug distributor, and nightclub owner. A very busy man with a lot to lose, Ghost juggles his work life with his family life, dodging danger alongside secret dalliances with his mistress Angela. Ghost’s universe includes his best friend and business partner Tommy (Joseph Sikora) and his rival Kanan Stark (50 Cent), the latter of whom wreaks havoc throughout New York.
The show has been commended for its stellar character development, garnering a large and loyal fan-base. Due to the success of the series, Power has evolved into a full franchise, currently running three spin-offs simultaneously off the strength of its alluring characters and a desire to resolve unaddressed storylines introduced in the parent show.
If in search of a suspenseful crime drama with a lot of heart, Power and its accompanying spin-off have all you could ask for and even more.
Based on the beloved fantasy franchise of novels by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander may very well be the show that put Starz on the map. The show follows former nurse Claire Randall who takes a trip to Scotland with her husband after the Second World War. While in Inverness, Claire is suddenly transported to the year 1743 and stumbles upon a clan of rebel Highlanders evading British soldier Jonathan Randall.
Outlander is the perfect blend of historical fiction and fantasy, capturing and sustaining loyal viewers throughout the years with its alluring romances and nail-biting scenes. The show continues to stress just how dangerous life in the 1700s was and how people survived by navigating treacherous paths. While Outlander raises questions about human morality and does so with a magical touch, the show also provides audiences with a glimmer of hope. The persistent protagonists are not mere characters with difficult obstacles ahead of them but representations of the strength that comes with being human in a very unpredictable world.
Whether it be for its strong writing, diverse cast, or captivating storylines, Katori Hall’s P-Valley is undoubtedly the crown jewel of Starz. The show follows the lively nightlife of The Pynk, juxtaposed with the daily occurrences in Chucalissa, Mississippi. Based on a play written by Hall herself, P Valley has been commended for humanizing marginalized groups and professions, providing audiences with enchanting storylines, and creating compassionate yet complex characters.
The characters are not only defined by what society deems as depraved but instead are written as human first with their experiences accounted for. For example, Mercedes is an exotic dancer at the Pynk but is also a teacher. She grapples with the backlash she receives for occupying multiple worlds: exotic dancing, coaching for the school dance team, and finally, the church. Best highlighted in her tumultuous relationship with her mother, Mercedes’ storyline is one that plenty of people can empathize with; however, it brings light to specific situations that Black women go through.
Additionally, Uncle Clifford’s not only the queer guide of the show, throwing shade and useful tips. They also have a storyline of their own as the manager of the Pynk. Viewers see many sides of Uncle Clifford. They’re someone you can laugh with about the silliest situations. Someone to open up about traumatic events and have that be reciprocated. Someone with an actual love interest that is heavily chronicled throughout multiple episodes. In P-Valley, characters like Uncle Clifford and Mercedes offer often ostracized members of society great representation and the chance to be seen as human, to acknowledge their identity as one of many valuable human experiences.
Despite the equally astonishing suspenseful storylines, it truly is the little things that truly shine just as strongly. The all-Black main cast, ranging in skin tone and sexuality, are talented and convincing enough to bring the lives of millions of Black Americans to the forefront and do them justice.
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