BET Tries to Do Better.

Tired of being the butt of everyone’s jokes, BET is adding significantly to its original programming roster. If the record-breaking success of the The Game and the benign tolerance of Let’s Stay Together are any indication, BET viewers are quite open to any adequately-plotted sitcoms and dramas the network might throw their way.

At an upfront last week, CEO Debra Lee announced Reed Between the Lines, a Mara Brock Akil sitcom staring Girlfriends alum Tracee Ellis Ross and Malcolm Jamal Warner as a married psychiatrist and English professor, respectively, who are parents to teen twins and “an outspoken seven-year-old.”

They’re also adding four original web series: Lenox Avenue, a drama set in Harlem about three black men (The Wire’s Michael K. Williams among them) in their mid-twenties, juggling careers and busy love lives; Odessa, a sci-fi series about a father and daughter on the run from a malicious university science department that has endowed them with psychokinetic powers; Asylum, a thriller about doctors at a hospital for the criminally insane; and The Come-Up, a dramedy about black high school students in DC, actively pursuing professional dreams.

Both The Game and Let’s Stay Together have been re-upped. The Mo’Nique Show, The Wendy Williams Show, Sunday Best, and 106 and Park will also return next season. They’re adding a documentary, The Message: The History of Hip-Hop.

So what do you guys think? This new lineup is a long way from Hot Ghetto Mess: We Gotta Do Better and Cita’s World.  But is it enough to redeem themselves? From 31 years of questionable programming?


slb (aka Stacia L. Brown) is a writer, mother, and college instructor in Baltimore, MD. Check her out here: and here:
  • MH8D

    Some of the concepts seem interesting but I doubt the execution will result in anything worth watching. I gave up on BET long ago and I won’t watch it, no matter how different, new, or improved they claim to be.
    It’s the same way I feel about Domino’s new pizza. A lot of people say that it’s actually good, but I just won’t trust or do business with the same people that chose to keep making shitty pizzas for 20 years.

    • slb

      I love the Domino’s analogy; my mother expresses this *exact* sentiment every time one of those earnest “look at us; we’ve overhauled everything!” commercials airs.

      You’re right, though; a few of the web concepts do seem interesting and their execution is suspect. I’d give them a chance, but BET streaming has always kind of sucked, hasn’t it?

  • Kjen

    No, of course it won’t be enough. But it’s a start. Hopefully they will be persistant and keep some of these shows on for a two to three seasons at least even if they don’t post widely succesful numbers.
    Hmm, I might actually watch some of these (ok, Odessa) on its first run, instead of waiting for the first season to be released on dvd/hulu.

    • slb

      I’ll give Odessa and Asylum a shot. One shot. A piece. And then I’m out.

  • April

    Yeah…I think The Game has sharply declined in quality since its BET reboot, so I’m not holding out much hope for these other programs. We’re still dealing with the same folks here, y’all–don’t be fooled!

  • Trackstre

    BET and “Better” in the same sentence. Disaster.

  • Scipio Africanus

    Lol @ Omar in his mid-twenties. Yeah right. I think he’s greying, at this point.

  • I’ll give a try. Everyone needs a second chance.

    My fear is that the quality (acting, writing, production) will be terrible, moreso than the actual concepts. Let’s hope BET gets some youngbloods to inject life. We shall see.

  • Turn BET into a children/teen network.

  • Ash

    Maybe I’ll check out some of the new stuff, but obviously it’s not gonna be enough if the keep running the other trash…but that’s what’s bringing in the money.

  • The proof will be in the pudding…Television in general is pretty bad, so, I don’t hold out hope that BET will be all that different. Besides that fact that BET leadership has shown no real interest in quality programming, I am sure that BET’s corporate parent is still holding a pretty tight grip on the purse strings, which in turns means BET won’t be able to invest in the resources necessary to make any of these shows tolerable. But, I could be wrong.