Harlem’s Jerrie Johnson has no time for the queer best friend trope: ‘I give main character energy’

A promo shot of actor Jerrie Johnson wearing a black dress with short white-blonde hair standing in front of a blue and white background

Following the release of the second season of Harlem, actor Jerrie Johnson has explained why she rejected the popular trope of the gay best friend.

The hit show from Girls Trip co-writer Tracy Oliver follows four Black women, Camille, Quinn, Angie and Tye, as they navigate the challenges of love and life in the Upper Manhattan neighbourhood of New York.

Jerrie Johnson plays Tye, an entrepreneur who has invented an incredibly successful dating app. She does not, however, possess the same luck in her romantic life. After getting divorced from a man, she is unable to keep a girl down in Harlem; but her character is far from the stereotypical ‘gay best friend’ that we’ve come to know and avidly dislike.

Speaking to Autostraddle, Johnson said that Tye gives “main character energy”, so there’s no way she would have allowed “anything else” for her character. But further than that, she explained that if she was asked to play into a trope, she would have walked from the project altogether.

“I mean, they would’ve had to rewrite the script, and I’m being quite honest about that,” she reflected.

“It’s like when you’re in a house, that’s your house. You’re not excited to be in the house because it’s just your house. That’s where you live. I mean, there can be excitement around it, but that’s just where you live. So I just feel like it’s the natural way that things are supposed to be.”

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Harlem co-star Meagan Good, who portrays Camille, also emphasised that each of the four main characters are “very specific” and “fully formed human beings”.

“The same way that you get to see Camille explore her love life, or Quinn explore her love life, or Angie explore her love life, I don’t think it’s about the love life and who you’re dating,” she said. “I think it’s about the individual and what their experience is in dating and what are they struggling with.

“What is their trauma? What is their day-to-day? What are they doing at work? What’s their situation with this or that?

“I think it’s about exploring the characters, and that’s a part of it. [When] you are a part of the friend group, you my girlfriend, you my homegirl. Who you date has nothing to do with it and so I love that.”

Harlem‘s first season left viewers in the lurch over the romantic fates of the girls – and there look to be plenty more twists in store during season two.

Harlem was released on 3 February and is available now on Amazon Prime.