If Issa Rae were a queer woman, “Insecure” might look more like “195 Lewis,” a show so stylish, sexy, and assured that it has steadily built momentum by word of mouth since its festival premiere over a year ago. Set in the heart of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, “195 Lewis” follows a black lesbian couple as they strive to practice radical honesty in their newly polyamorous relationship. Surrounding them are a group of close-knit young black queer friends, peppered with characters as unique and colorful as the greens and purple hues of every gorgeous frame.
Co-writer Rae Leone Allen stars as Yuri, a quietly swaggering lothario with a little too much on her plate. Between her girlfriend Camille (Sirita Wright), Texas-transplant college flame Kris (Roxie Johnson), mysterious beauty Harlem (Trae Harris), and scene-stealing tomboy buddy, Stacy-Anne (D. Ajane Carlton), Yuri is struggling to keep everyone happy. Expertly riding the line between comedy and romantic drama, “195 Lewis” explores themes of queerness, black identity, and ethical non-monogamy like no series ever has.
That’s likely due to the fact that “195 Lewis” is written, produced, directed, and performed by a majority black, queer-identified women — something not a lot of TV shows can say.
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Director Chanelle Aponte Pearson makes a confident and splashy debut, catapulting her considerable producing skills to a new level. Pearson was a producer on Terence Nance’s Gotham Award-winning “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. Nance is a writer and executive producer on “195 Lewis.”
In the exclusive clip below, newbie Kris is schooled in the five kinds of lesbians. The scene illustrates many of the show’s finest attributes: Funny, visually compelling, and with a distinctly queer point of view. Check it out:
“195 Lewis” premieres tonight at 8 pm EST here.