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Black Female Friendship, Sexcapades And Harlem Star In New Series ‘Run the World'

Four Black women in a bar talking and laughing.
Starz
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A still from the show 'Run the World' featuring the four main characters.

Four friends, big city, sex and relationships. It’s a familiar set-up for a TV show, but the new Starz series 'Run the World' puts a focus on contemporary Black female friendship, relationships and professional goals.

In a post-”Sex and the City” TV landscape, the set-up for the new Starz series “Run the World” may sound familiar: four friends, New York City, sex and heartbreak. But this is not your mom’s 90s sitcom. “Run the World” puts a focus on contemporary Black female friendship and the fullness of the characters’ relationships and career aspirations — all with Harlem as a backdrop and impeccable costume design.

Host Anita Rao gets a review of favorite moments and critiques of the show from Mariel Waters, YouTuber and TV reviewer, as well as Bianca Gregg, culture editor at Baldwin for Medium.com. Also joining the conversation is Natalie Bullock Brown, filmmaker and teaching assistant professor at North Carolina State University.

Interview Highlights

Bianca Gregg on what makes the premise of “Run the World” unique:

That's something we don't always see on shows like this — it’s usually like a progression, you know, the love story: falling in love, then being married. But on this it kind of flips and shows us where we're already living the quote-unquote dream of being with someone, but it may not necessarily be where we want to be. And I feel like that story isn't told often enough, especially from the perspective of Black women.

Mariel Waters on wanting to see more discussion of male characters on the show:

It's focused around four Black women. But it would be nice to see that struggle on the side of Black men — how they deal with relationships, especially when everyone is successful, when everyone has their best foot forward. … Because I think we don't really see that enough on TV, Black relationships. And if we do, it's only the focus [of] he cheated, or he's not understanding, or all the negative things. It would be nice to see: Okay, Jason may really not think that his marriage is over, because he really does love Renee, and it would be nice for him to — for all the male characters to kind of develop over time.

Natalie Bullock Brown on how the content of “Run the World” fits in against real world happenings:

It's very interesting that there is just an onslaught of repressive policies and legislation that is taking place throughout the country. In many ways America is becoming more and more repressed, does not want to deal with reality. And so it's an interesting juxtaposition to find these bits of pop culture that are really trying to get at a more genuine, authentic representation of who people really are — and especially Black women who in many ways are highly marginalized.

Kaia Findlay is a producer for Embodied, WUNC's weekly, live talk show on health, sex and relationships. Kaia first joined the WUNC team in 2020 as a producer for The State of Things.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.