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Diarra From Detroit

Source: BET+ / BET+

When you look at the lists of “must-see TV” that invariably appear this time of year, you won’t find Diarra From Detroit on them. And that’s more a function of its placement on BET+ than its merits, which is too bad.

Diarra From Detroit is the brainchild of Diarra Kilpatrick, a writer and actress who hails from, yes, Detroit. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, which counts Spike Lee among its alumni, Kilpatrick was the creative force behind the web series, American Koko, and has written for The Last OG and I’m Dying Up Here as well as starring on the HBO series, Perry Mason.

But it’s on Diarra From Detroit where she is showrunner, star, executive producer and writer, that she emerges as one of the brightest new creative voices in the Hollywood sphere. The eight-episode show has already received rave reviews from industry stalwarts like the Hollywood Reporter, Variety and the Ebert Report.

But it’s not the kind of Black-show-white-people-like fare that usually lends itself to those glowing accolades. It’s a show steeped in Blackness, but not one that’s dependent on Black hood tropes. Diarra Brickland is an elementary school teacher and her friends range from a bus driver to an entrepreneur and the local neighborhood criminal, who also makes great silver dollar pancakes.

The show centers on a relatable moment. Diarra is reeling from her impending divorce from Swa, her soon-to-be ex-husband, played by Morris Chestnut. She goes on a Tinder date to help herself get over it and meets up with Chris, played by Shannon Wallace. Chris is cute, charming and they hit it off so much they end up in bed.

And then Diarra gets “ghosted.” But instead of taking it as the inevitable L in those kinds of situations, she believes that Chris was the victim of a crime. And maybe not for the first time. And guess what – she may be right.

Chris’ disappearance sets off a host of discoveries as Diarra makes her way around Detroit with Moni (Claudia Logan), her ex-best friend turned partner in crime (solving). Her queer work husband, Mr. Tea (Bryan Terrell Clark), is trying to talk some sense into her but it’s falling on deaf ears, her ambitious home girl, Aja (DomiNique Perry), is more worried about her career than Diarra’s problems and her ex comes through just enough to make it interesting. Along the way cameos by folks like Phylicia Rashad and Harry Lennix make you realize that someone else believed in Diarra (the showrunner).

That person is Kenya Barris who lent his imprimatur to the show, the first to come out of BET Studios. Surprisingly, there’s nary a conflicted biracial character, at least in the first three episodes. Diarra From Detroit is LOL funny, it’s run by and about a Black female character who is an emergent comedian while bringing some Detroit grit and a genuinely new and fresh creative voice.

It’s worth a BET+ trial subscription. Whatever you think about BET, they are one of the biggest developers and distributors of Black talent and generally their shows are several levels above Tubi quality. In the case of Diarra From Detroit, the show is many degrees above that low standard. If Kilpatrick’s effort was on HBO or Netflix, she and Diarra would be given the recognition they deserve. Don’t let the streaming network that gave her a chance keep you from watching.