Stream It Or Skip It?


Shows that celebrate a particular music scene usually tell the story of a talented singer, rapper or DJ who comes up through a particular scene. In a new British series, the career of one of its main characters is already established. We get to see what happens when the other main character, the rap star’s sister, decides to strike out on her own.


Opening Shot: We see a home video of a kid rapping along with a music video. When his sister starts rapping to the video as well, her brother throws the toy microphone he’s using at her.

The Gist: Almost two decades later, both Bosco Champion (Malcolm Kamulete) and his little sister Vita (Déja J. Bowens) are grown-ups, and both have followed their dream of being in the music business. Bosco is a rap star that is doing his first live gig after being in prison for two years, and Vita is pretty much his behind-the-scenes support. She writes songs for him, fetches drinks for him, and talks him down when he’s having a panic attack before he hits the stage.

The first show back from his prison exile is a success, despite a shoving match with a rapper named Bulla (Corey Weekes) and his father Beres (Ray Fearon) coming late then criticizing him for “showboating” by bringing his mother Aria (Nadine Marshall) on stage with him.

We cut to Aria’s backyard, where she’s throwing a party for Bosco’s 25th birthday. Vita is running around, annoyed that her brother isn’t there yet, but is happy when Bosco shows up with his best friend Memet (Kerim Hassan), mainly because she and Memet have been in a secret relationship for awhile. When Vita complains to her buddy Honey (Ray BLK) about her brother for the umpteenth time, Honey tells her that she has the talent to go out on her own as a singer. At the very least, she should be getting paid what she’s worth and propose that she replace Bosco’s mostly-useless manager.

As the party gets going, a group of uniformed cops bust through the gate and say there’s been noise complaints, a violation of Bosco’s parole. As the objections fly, the cops wrestle Bosco to the ground and arrest him. Vita and Memet get into a car and follow the cops to the police station; she calls his manager, who seems to be pretty dismissive of the whole thing. So Vita takes matters into her own hands, telling partygoers who videoed the arrest to post the videos, and a “Free Bosco” movement quickly went viral.

Bosco is released without charges, and Vita uses the opportunity to propose that she become his manager. He says he’ll sleep on it, and the next day, he calls Memet (who’s sleeping with Vita) and tells him to get Vita and meet him at a record label meeting. Vita is thinking he’s decided to promote her, but then his old manager shows up and he tells her to fetch him some tea.

Vita storms out and gets a call from Honey saying she has something urgent to tell her. Turns out she’s at a recording studio, with an opportunity for the both of them to sing background on a track for Bulla. At first, Vita begs off, thinking she’s fine being a behind-the-scenes person, but Honey just hates that Bosco treats her like crap and insists. In the booth, Vita’s singing is so good that Bulla decides to use only her vocals on the track, ticking off Honey to no end. Bulla’s manager tells Vita that he wants to make her a star.

She’s still not sure, but when she tells Bosco that she sang on his rival’s track, he gets so selfishly angry that she defiantly says she’s ready to strike out on her own, “Champion versus Champion.”

Photo: Netflix

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Champion is somewhat reminiscent of Neon, though the latter series involves a reggaeton artist trying to make it, and there’s less of a family element.

Our Take: Created by Candice Carty-Williams, Champions gets off to a strong start by focusing on Vita, whom we know is vaguely dissatisfied with her role in her brother’s career, but still has to be repeatedly convinced that she should strike out on her own. The reason why her story works, despite not really seeing much of her and Bosco’s backstory beforehand, is that we get a lot of background simply by seeing the parameters of the Champion family, and the traditional roles that first-generation Jamaican-Brits like Vita and Bosco have to fight against.

Bosco seems like an overcoddled prat for most of the first episode, and we don’t really know why he spent two years in prison prior to when we meet him. But, seeing his dynamic with his family, it’s easy to see why he constantly takes his little sister for granted. He’s always looking for approval from Beres and doesn’t get it, despite the fact that his music career pays his father’s rent and supports him in whatever the hell he does. Beres and Aria have been apart for a long time, but like Vita, she’s the one who quietly makes the family run, with her eponymous restaurant having kept a roof over the Champions’ heads for decades.

Vita’s insistence that she’s fine being a behind-the-scenes person is less about what she really wants and more about what the mores of her family life are. If she were to go out on her own, she feels, she might embarrass her family, despite the fact that her family has stood behind Bosco through whatever potentially embarrassing behavior he’s engaged in. That’s how strong traditional gender roles are in Jamaican families are, even in 2024.

But Vita’s strength is evident from the first moments of Bowens’ performance, and that strength showed us pretty much right away that the entire first episode was going to construct the story that led her to go out on her own, even if that means there will be a family rift because of it. She’s not the kind of person that will allow herself to be stepped on over and over, and while she loves Bosco, she won’t let him keep treating her like shit. So, while we knew during the entire episode that the moment she decides to start her own singing career was coming, the moment she tells her brother where to stick it was still triumphant, because of what was set up before it.

Sex and Skin: None in the first episode.

Parting Shot: Vita tells Bosco, “Well, it’s Champion versus Champion now. Get ready.”

Sleeper Star: We liked the couple of scenes where we saw Rachel Adedeji, who plays Yemi. She’s the mother to Bosco’s young daughter Milan (Olivia-Rose Colliard), and he still thinks he has a chance with her. She doesn’t push him off, but given the fact that she’s engaged to Bulla’s manager, she knows she’s got the upper hand in this relationship.

Most Pilot-y Line: When Bosco tells Vita to get her a tea, he says to make sure it has oat milk in it. “Cow milk’s dead,” he says. Way to read the room.

Our Call: STREAM IT. The first episode of Champion is full of great music and sets up an engaging story about a family that’s bound by a lot of traditions that’s going to be tested by a rivalry between sublings.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.

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