Atlanta is a city with a significant African American community, and this is widely reflected in local television. Many dramas, sitcoms and reality shows across a variety of networks are either set or filmed in this city, including those with predominately African American casts. Whether scripted or documentary-style, many popular Atlanta TV shows examine different experiences and social issues within the African American community.
Some of these series reflect unique perspectives, like the medical or musical communities, while others focus on typical, everyday family dynamics. Shows like Donald Glover’s Atlanta are critically acclaimed for their ability to blend the two approaches. Others, like The Real Housewives of Atlanta, offer viewers more of an entertaining guilty pleasure. Discover more bingeworthy, Atlanta-based African American TV shows below.
As implied by its name, Atlanta is based and filmed locally, and is meant to capture the African American experience of everyday life in this bustling city. It stars Donald Glover, who is also the creator, writer, producer and director of the series, alongside an all-black writing staff.
This award-winning dramedy centers on Glover’s character Earnest Marks, a Princeton dropout who is trying to find his way in both his personal and professional life in order to provide for his daughter. Recognizable filming locations include restaurants like JR Crickets, Istanblue and other spots in the Bankhead neighborhood.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta
The Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA) is one of the longest-running series in The Real Housewives franchise. At its height RHOA was also considered to be the most successful version, as it received the highest ratings and was Bravo’s most watched series at the time. It follows the professional and personal development of several Atlanta women, some of whom earned their own spin-offs as well.
Currently in its eleventh season, RHOA has featured several Atlanta hotpots over the years. Many viewers flock to restaurants and shops featured on the show, like F&B Restaurant, Relevator Coffee Company and the Mandarin Oriental. Many of these women also own their own small businesses that fans can visit in Atlanta. For example, Kandi Burruss runs the restaurant Old Lady Gang and the Tags boutique.
Tyler Perry’s House of Payne
Tyler Perry is a well-recognized playwright, actor and filmmaker with his own production studio situated in Atlanta. House of Payne was his first scripted comedy featured on TBS, which ran between 2006 and 2012. This slice-of-life show centers on the Payne family’s life in Atlanta, including funny, heartwarming moments as well as darker themes like substance abuse.
It aired more episodes than any other TV series featuring a mostly African American cast, including The Cosby Show and The Jeffersons. Recently, a spin-off called The Paynes premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
Being Mary Jane
In Being Mary Jane, Gabrielle Union stars as Mary Jane Paul, a successful Atlanta news anchor, as she navigates her career and love life. It premiered as the highest rated show on the Black Entertainment Network (BET), and captured many viewers while it ran between 2014 and 2017.
The show is both set and filmed in Atlanta, with the main character’s home situated in the Virginia-Highland Park neighborhood. The actual house used in the filming is known as the Ridgewood House, a popular Atlanta location for various movies and shows.
Love & Hip Hop Atlanta
Atlanta is home to a thriving music scene, which is why it inspired a second iteration of the reality show Love & Hip Hop on VH1. Throughout its eight seasons, the show centers on members of the Atlanta hip hop community. This includes aspiring female recording artists like RaSheeda and Karlie Redd, as well as the significant others of local musical artists and producers like Lil Scrappy and Yung Joc.
Since the show is based in Atlanta, viewers can spot many popular locations around the city that are featured on the show. Featured favorites include Grindhouse Killer Burgers in Midtown, Pure Taqueria in Inman Park, Magic City in Downtown and Doppler Studios in Buckhead, as well as several spots in Camp Creek.
Produced by NBA star Lebron James, Survivor’s Remorse is a Starz sitcom about Cam Calloway, an up-and-coming basketball player who signs with a professional team in Atlanta. It features Jessie Usher as Calloway, with support from fan favorites like Tichina Arnold, RonReaco Lee and Teyonah Parris. While many viewers praised Survivor’s Remorse for how it was able to use comedy to address real social issues, the show did not continue past its fourth season.
Filming for all four seasons largely occurred in Atlanta, itself. Prominent locations featured on the show include the High Museum of Art, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and the Alliance Theater. Additionally, Calloway’s fictional home is set in Atlanta’s ritzy neighborhood of Buckhead.
Married to Medicine
Another popular reality TV show set in Atlanta, Married to Medicine follows the lives of seven successful women connected to the local medical community. Four of the cast members are the wives of prominent doctors, while three others are physicians themselves.
Aired on Bravo, the show earned the network’s title of highest-rated and most watched series premiere when it debuted in 2013. Married to Medicine has continued to grow since then, spawning two spin-offs set in Los Angeles and Houston, while the original show continues for a sixth season.
Greenleaf is an original drama on OWN starring Lynn Whitfield, Keith David and Merle Dandridge. Viewers follow the members of the Greenleaf family and their scandalous lives as owners of a predominately African-American megachurch. Greenleaf earned the top spot for series debuts on OWN and was recently renewed for a fourth season.
While the story is based in Memphis, several major Atlanta spots served as filming locations for season three. This includes the popular restaurant Noble Fin, Wages & Sons Funeral Home and the music venue Atlanta Coliseum.
Based on the Black Lightning DC comics developed by Tony Isabella and Trevor von Eeden, this show is a superhero drama aired on The CW. The story is set in the fictional town of Freeland and follows the life of Jefferson Pierce, a high school principal with a superhero past. He is forced to reassume his Black Lightning persona when a local gang starts causing trouble.
The role of Jefferson Pierce is played by Cress Williams, along with support from China Ann McClain, Jordan Calloway and Christine Adams, among others. Overall, the first two seasons received positive feedback from audiences, and the series was recently renewed for a third season. Production is largely based in Atlanta, featuring sights like the giant alligator mural on Mitchell and Forsyth Street.