If You Love (Or Hate) Toronto, This CBC Gem Series Is For You

Welcome to “What’s Good,” a weekly column where we break down what’s soothing, distracting, or just plain good in the streaming world.
Photo: Courtesy of CBC.
What’s Good? Next Stop on CBC Gem
Who It’s Good For: If you’re a young Black person who grew up in the Greater Toronto Area — especially Scarborough — I promise this short series of skits about life in TO will make you feel SEEN and, if nothing else, it will give you a much-needed laugh. I was raised in a suburb outside of the GTA, so I can’t claim this very specific experience as my own, but I was still laughing as hard as the dude outside of the Eaton Centre yells “Believe!” (Hey, I have lived in the city for 14 years.) This web series reminded me of the first time I devoured Issa Rae’s The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl — like I was watching a star being birthed in short, hysterical, low-budget bursts. These 4-5 minute pops of joy are just the beginning. 
How Good Is It? Next Stop is as good as the Jamaican beef patties at Islington station. Yes, Islington. I said what I said. A battle over which subway stop has the best patties is just one of the relatable, and so funny, pieces of dialogue that separates Next Stop from anything else on Canadian TV right now. This is an anthology series about young Black characters trying to deal with life in Toronto, and it never once compromises its authenticity to appeal to a white viewer. It’s riddled with inside jokes and Black Toronto slang. It stars formidable Black talent (Vanessa Adams will have you at her first “ARE YOU DUMB?”) doing so much with so little. How Toronto of them. We know it’s hard in Hollywood North for creators of colour. I’ve written extensively about how white mainstream Canadian television is. Next Stop is breaking that mould, one waste yute joke at a time. This show is for us, by us. 
Creators Jabbari Weekes, Tichaona Tapambwa, and Phil Witmer are first-time filmmakers who, according to the show’s executive producer Amar Wala, “never dreamed their series would get much attention, let alone be acquired by a major platform.” That platform, CBC Gem, may look like it’s taking a chance on Next Stop since the first season is only four short episodes created by and starring unknowns (Mahlet Tilahun, Jordan Hayles, and the standout Adams), but it’s more like CBC Gem had the foresight to get on this train early. Wala’s production company Scarborough Pictures says future episodes of Next Stop are in development and ready to go if CBC Gem picks it up. 
That’s a good thing since, once you finish episode 4, “Pool,” about a heated Uber pool ride where our three stars debate the “special type of fuckery” of Toronto and the challenges of being a Black creator in the city, you’re going to want more immediately. Plus, like with Rae and Awkward Black Girl, if you start watching now, you’ll get to say you saw this series before its creators and stars blew up. 
Black stories — especially joyful ones — should have been prioritized long before the public pressure of this moment, but now that we’re finally seeing our narratives told with specificity and originality and in demand by mainstream streaming services, it’s time to show up and support them. Next Stop is next up. Get on and enjoy the ride. 
Things that are also good:
• The intimate and heartbreaking Netflix documentary A Love Song For Latasha, about the life and legacy of Latasha Harlins
• Respecting Black women. Loving Black women. Letting Black women know we are valued, and that our lives matter
Millie Bobby Brown as the spunky spy and little sister of Sherlock, Enola Holmes
• Being like Highsnobiety and forgetting a waste yute like Tory Lanez exists
• The TIME 100 list, which gave us this beautiful portrait of my mom and dad, Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade
Defunding the police

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