How often have we watched a television show, fell in love with one of the characters, and found yourself extremely disappointed by their storyline? For Black women characters, that list can feel endless. These characters in television and film often find themselves confined to the background, playing second fiddle to their white counterparts. Despite being rich with potential, they end up overshadowed, their stories untold or incompletely explored.
Despite the significance of their roles, they remain sidekicks, their narratives secondary to their white counterparts. It isn’t just about screen time but depth, complexity, and the opportunity to lead. With this glaring disparity, it becomes vital to spotlight some of these overlooked Black women characters and champion the fuller stories they deserved.
21Ninety has rounded up five Black women characters who’s stories deserved more.
5 Black Women Characters Who Deserved More
Amber Riley played Mercedes Jones in the hit series “Glee.” Mercedes was the embodiment of raw talent. Her rich and powerful vocals often matched or even surpassed her peers. However, despite this evident prowess, her position in the New Directions choir was frequently that of a backup singer, especially to lead vocalist Rachel Berry.
Rachel’s character, played by Lea Michele, received layered story arcs and multifaceted development. Mercedes often found her storylines limited. And considering the depth Mercedes brought to the group, many fans often wondered why she was overlooked. Beyond her vocal gifts, she was a character filled with aspirations, complexities, and genuine emotions. Her experiences in high school, battles with body image, enthusiasm for music, and aspirations for stardom deserved the same attention and depth as any other character. Her character cried out for more depth, showing that talent like hers is accompanied by dreams, ambitions, and challenges that are just as valid and worthy of storytelling.
Tara Thornton, a significant character in “True Blood,” is often recognized as Sookie Stackhouse’s resilient childhood friend. But her narrative potential extends far beyond this relationship.
Tara’s journey—from a skeptical human with a tumultuous family history to a fierce vampire—offers rich terrain for exploration. She grapples with her identity, faces her traumas, and evolves amidst the chaos of Bon Temps. Yet, her story often shadows Sookie’s, rendering her personal battles and relationships secondary. Tara’s character called for a deeper exploration that delved into her individual challenges, triumphs, and connections beyond Sookie’s narrative.
Prudence Blackwood, portrayed by Tati Gabrielle in “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” is a spellbinding character whose depth and complexity deserved greater exploration. As a powerful witch and a leader of the Weird Sisters, Prudence showcased strength, loyalty, and a quest for identity, given her lineage and ties to Father Blackwood.
While the series touched upon her struggles with familial ties and her evolving relationship with Sabrina, there remained ample potential to dive deeper into her psyche, past, and unique position within the Church of Night. Prudence’s rich background and fierce nature made her a standout, calling for a more detailed narrative arc that moved beyond her supporting role.
Liberty Van Zandt
Liberty Van Zandt, played by Sarah Barrable-Tishauer, was a notable character in “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” Her character embodied the essence of a diligent and ambitious student. Often showcased as the brainy overachiever, her character underwent significant transformations, grappling with unexpected teenage pregnancy, her feelings for J.T. Yorke, and her constant pursuit of academic excellence.
While her journey highlighted various facets of teen life and challenges, Liberty’s multi-dimensional character could have benefited from a more in-depth exploration, providing insights beyond her stereotypical “straight-A student” image to truly capture the layers of her experiences and growth.
Kim Parker, a vibrant character in “Moesha,” often found herself confined by narrow characterizations. While her infectious energy and loyal friendship with Moesha provided comedic relief, she was frequently typecast as the “unintelligent” friend and faced body-shaming from her closest friends, Moesha and Niecy.
Such portrayals overlooked the opportunity to delve deeper into Kim’s individuality, challenges, and aspirations. By limiting her to these roles, the show missed a chance to challenge harmful stereotypes and provide a richer, more nuanced representation of Kim’s character.