Leila, played by actress Nabila Hossain, is a South Asian-American Muslim woman navigating her queerness and, adjacently, her relationships.
The very first episode easily reels you in with a "morning after" moment, in which Leila takes a call from her clearly conservative aunt — who questions her about having sex and reminds her to visit her local mosque — all while she fumbles to get dressed.
Meanwhile, a naked woman named Miranda (Melissa Duprey) is stirred awake in her bed.
It's both heart-wrenching and relatable to watch Leila as she works to reconcile her Muslim and LGBTQ+ identities throughout the seven-episode series.
Leila's character provides a voice for the queer Muslim population that hasn't been heard nearly enough in the history of television and film.
The show grapples with her sexual orientation in a way that doesn't feel forced or token-ish. Instead, it reads as a seamless, honest portrayal.
Leila's roommate Patricia, played by actress, Sonia Denis, is a young black woman struggling to start a music career, balance her single life, and work out her feelings about her parents' failing marriage.
Her first solo scene opens with her delivery of a "F*ck boys" speech to herself in the bathroom mirror. We then see her completely school her booty call on the actual rules of booty-calling — before kicking him out according to said booty-call rules.
Yeah, each episode is basically a 15-minute emotional rollercoaster ride.
The two women are from different cultural backgrounds, yet they serve as one another's support systems as they navigate everything from their friends-with-benefits situations to their casual, yet potentially problematic drinking habits.
There's something special about a show that hits nearly every angle of representation. These women are of color. They are rocking big, curly, and braided hair. They are living these uncertain lives in Chicago. Patricia has a bold, healthy sex life, while Leila fights to be more honest with herself about her own.
Brown Girls is equal parts hilarious and serious, challenging its viewers to either say, "Yep, that's me AF" or, "Wow, I didn't know that was a thing."
Still, Don't Expect The Show To Be The Bible On Women Of Color
Samantha Bailey and Fatimah Asghar are simply happy to create more images and stories about women of color on television.
Bailey told Elle,
I want people to see these characters as multifaceted, multilayered, complex human beings. This is not the narrative of every brown girl in the world. I'm only interested in adding to the narrative, because we can be a multitude of things.
Asghar has also credited Issa Rae for laying the foundation with her HBO series, Insecure. There's no competition between these two shows, though they will undoubtedly be mentioned together going forward.
Pick your flavor, or taste them both, because each show serves up a different perspective.
According to Vibe, Asghar said,
I don't think we could be possible without Issa Rae. Without Issa, and all the things she did to knock doors open, people would not have looked at us or taken us seriously. She kind of paved the way for us and we can do that for other folks. I hope we can do that for other girls. I hope that it can continue to happen to the point where we have such an abundance of different races on screen and people don't feel like one show has to represent everything—it can represent a specific story of a specific individual.
Show by show, the stories of women of color are being projected much more loudly in mainstream television, and with more nuanced characters and fleshier plots.
Brown Girls joining Insecure on the HBO roster is just proof that when women of color take their stories into their own hands, what comes of it is nothing short of magic.
Kudos to HBO for providing their platform, and more kudos to these women of color for being brave, boss storytellers.
While there's no release date yet for Brown Girls, definitely check out the trailer to get a taste of this awesome brown girl magic.