Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Black Women To Look For This 2015-2016 Horror TV Season

This past summer made sure genre fans would be panting by Fall's rise due to massive marketing and numerous trailers for the season's most anticipated shows. My interest doubled when my scrutiny paid off, as multiple networks reveal significant roles for Black women and women of color in genre television. I am thankful to witness what I can only hope will be a growing awareness in casting as sisters battle evil in many forms, or maybe in some cases, personify it.

The next step is to watch how their characters fit into the larger universe and the layers that are revealed, giving us thoughtful personalities with enough depth to keep us engaged. This is such a critical step here and unfortunately, it can at times get overlooked. Many were in a rightful tailspin of disappointment when season two of Sleepy Hollow lost much of its charm and screen time for the most beloved, main and ancillary characters. But it's back for redemption with a lot of company.

Each of these new series' below appear to be something special. Here's a preview of what our sister folk have in store for us:

The New Blood

Jill Marie Jones is Amanda Fisher on Ash vs Evil Dead (STARZ)

Amanda is described as "a disgraced Michigan state trooper set to find our anti-hero Ash and prove his responsibility in the grisly murder of her partner." It seems like she'll be around for awhile and part of some serious gun slinging and bloody action that I won't spoil from the trailers or images. This beautiful, resourceful woman has a motivation and likely won't let Ash off the hook for any of his verbal shenanigans. It'll be fun to watch Amanda stretch her physical and emotional limits.

Premiere Date: October 31, 2015

Keke Palmer is Zayday on Scream Queens (FOX)

It's with hesitancy that my excitement twinkles for another Ryan Murphy series. While he's made outrageously entertaining programming, much of the content created raises a bushel of eyebrows in regards to race. Many times, certain characters play to the sassy Black woman fantasy of white writers. And it painfully shows. From what Palmer has told the press about Zayday, it seems she'll be sort of an "Auntie" with "that little Southern twang". Which kinda proves my point. My toes and eyes are crossed that she's much more than this.

*Honorary mention to Niecy Nash who'll play Denise

Premiere Date: September 22, 2015

Angela Bassett is Ramona Royale on American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)

Ryan Murphy is back with another American Horror Story installment, fast becoming an annual tradition of much anticipation and praying the entire season is solid. Freakshow was completely lost on me and I tapped out mid-season. But that's all in the past. While from my vantage, Hotel already reads like a mess of too many characters and plot webs, I still hold on to the possibility of tight writing and entertaining execution. Luckily, we can always look forward to inspiring performances from actresses like Bassett. This time around as Royale, a film starlet whose past and present with Lady Gaga's The Countess reads to be quite the tension-filled battle. Bassett has perfected the 'woman-at-odds' delivery so I'm ready for this, despite all trepidation.

Premiere Date: October 7, 2015

Naomi Campbell is Claudia Bankson on American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)

Naomi is one of the new faces added to the mini-series playing a Vogue magazine editor that honestly sounds a lot like her actual public personae. This is where my pessimism seduces me because this reeks of stunt casting for the most superficial of reasons, which unsurprisingly is one tenet of my overall assessment of the television universe Murphy has built. In fairness, there's ample opportunity to build on atmosphere and suspense as a nice build up to whatever fate holds for Claudia. If you were to ask me word association for the photo, I cannot shake giallo.

Premiere Date: October 7, 2015

Lesley-Ann Brandt is Maze on Lucifer (FOX)

Mazikeen, a.k.a. Maze is set to be the dark lord's bestie and lover. She's described as a 'fierce, beautiful demon' so I'm sold. The overall story, based from the DC comic Vertigo series finds the morning star apathetic to his supernatural responsibilities and trades it in for a lavish life in Los Angeles helping a police squad solve crimes. There are already some differences in TV character versus comic that had been revealed. No surprise there, so what else is in store for this slick serial?

Premiere Date: 2016

Megalyn Echikunwoke is Simone Baptiste on Damien (A&E)

I'll excuse the slight continuity error because the trailer looked so damn good. It reverences the original film, but seemingly ignores that Damien 'came to terms with his true destiny' as a teenager in Damien: Omen II (1978). It's kinda hard to beat that trilogy, but this modern spin feels fresher, especially with Echikunwoke's Simone, "a woman who grew up in the shadow of her overachieving sister whose life is thrown into turmoil when tragedy strikes, leading her to question her religious faith". I'm wondering if this is a means for Damien to infiltrate her fragile spiritual state for his own agenda. Or a romantic interest? Both and more, possibly. It's an element we really haven't seen in the films. Equally promising is the detailed description that implies they'll be much to learn about Ms. Baptiste.

Premiere Date: 2016

Our Returning Stars

Nicole Beharie is Abigail Mills on Sleepy Hollow (FOX)

"Let's just... see how season three pans out before pulling the plug, okay?"
When the 13th hour announcement came of a season three, I thought this could be a chance to bring back what worked in season one. However, more disdain was added to the wreckage when they passed us the 'Oh, and...' by moving its prime timeslot from Monday to Thursday. The problem is, it'll have to compete with the ABC's TGIT (Thank God It's Thursday), Shonda Rhimes' epic trilogy of serial television (Grey's AnatomyScandalHow To Get Away With Murder) which some have mumbled clearly in 140 characters or more that the masterminds behind this do not know their audience. With this bitter inconvenience, Sleepy Hollow will have to deliver to keep its viewership.

With no major distractions in Ichabod's way (his now deceased, secret wielding, witch crafty wife and scorned son turned evil minion), his rearview is clear, and the Abbie and Crane chronicles are back on track. Here's an idea: provide Abbie with a consistent arc that shows prominently how her role as a witness is one of leadership where Crane comes in with the assist. And vice versa! Abbie is not second to Crane and that's not the blueprint the show's success was built with. In Sleepy Hollow's short and wild history, we the audience have proven that they need not tinker too much with a great thing.

Premiere Date: October 1, 2015

Danai Gurira & Sonequa Martin-Green are Michonne and Sasha Williams on The Walking Dead (AMC)

Michonne's incredible trajectory shows no signs of slowing down as she looks for stability and to build herself whole again. While she watches her friend Rick spiral, she's also the first to stay in his ear simply on the topic of "not losing it". Saying it'll be interesting to see where her character goes in season six is an understatement. I've been in defense of every single (power) move she's made since she decided to save Andrea in that murky forest.

And I am #TeamRichonne.

I honestly believed Sasha would be another casualty last season. After losing Bob and Tyreese, I thought she had completely given up. My feelings got in the way and I really wasn't too happy about the way it ended with her, Maggie, and Father Gabriel but putting it into perspective, again this show is about maintaining your humanity in a world does not want for it. Her future looks much more ambiguous than the rest.

When Carol lost Sophia and took a back seat to the Maury-saga of Rick, Lori, and Shane, I just knew Carol would depart permanently. But now, she is the Trojan horse hiding in plain sight and bless her very being for it. Maybe this is Sasha's story in a familiar fashion.

Premiere Date: October 11, 2015

*Additional honorary mention to Kellita Smith returning to Z Nation's second season as Roberta Warren (thank you, Tambay at Shadow and Act for the reminder!)

Look for series recaps here on Graveyard Shift Sisters and how some of these new characters measure up in the coming weeks!

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