Harlem creator Tracy Oliver knows that comparisons between her new Prime Video series and Starz's Run The World, another comedy about four thirtysomething Black women living in the iconic, historically Black NYC neighborhood, are "inevitable."
Sarah Shatz/Amazon Studios Jerrie Johnson, Meagan Good, Grace Byers, and Shaniqua Shondai star on the Prime Video series 'Harlem.'
"If it wasn't this, it would be Insecure," Oliver tells EW, explaining that "when there's another Black show, people either reduce it down to the same thing, as if two creators can't have totally different experiences, and points of views, and voices, or they try to pit you against them and make it competitive. And either version of that I'm so against."
The showrunner says, "I don't want to live in a world where Run The World and Harlem can't coexist." She adds, "I think that it's a sign of progress that you don't just have one show anymore that features Black women who are friends."
Cara Howe/2020 Starz Entertainment Amber Stevens West, Corbin Reid, Bresha Webb, and Andrea Bordeaux are the stars of 'Run the World' on Starz.
"In your wildest dreams, do you want your settings to be original? Sure," Oliver admits. "When I had started doing Harlem, there was no other show set in Harlem. And I loved my experience there when I lived there, and I just always thought it's such a vibrant, fun, awesome city. So I had no idea that that would be the same setting, but it is what it is. I think they are different shows."
There are some immediate differences between the two series. For example, none of the characters have the same jobs, or even work in the same industry — while both feature a lead who works in academia, the Run The World character is still in school, while Meagan Good's character on Harlem already has her doctorate. And while Run The World's leads are mostly partnered, Harlem has leads who are all single, with one who is openly gay.
Sarah Shatz/Amazon; Cara Howe/Star
Oliver previously told EW that Black female friendship stories "have always been my favorites," so when it comes to Run The World, she says, "I have nothing but love for them."
"I think it's great that we both have shows," she reiterates, "but I think that they're totally different and I hope that people can see that."
Harlem is now streaming on Prime Video.