Dear Mama: The Saga of Afeni & Tupac Shakur passed ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ as FX’s most watched unscripted debut in cross-platform viewers.
The chronicle of the lives of Tupac and Afeni Shakur, which premiered April 21, passed Welcome to Wrexham as FX’s most watched unscripted debut in cross-platform viewers. The full cross-platform figures aren’t being released, per FX policy, but the majority of Dear Mama’s audience likely streamed the show on Hulu.
The two-episode premiere of Dear Mama, directed by Allen Hughes, averaged about 185,000 viewers for its on-air debut (episode one drew 196,000). That trailed Welcome to Wrexham’s linear premiere in August 2022 (it averaged 271,000 viewers for its first two episodes), but Dear Mama made up the difference with streaming and other delayed viewing. Streaming often makes up the majority of viewing for series that originate on ad-supported and premium cable outlets.
“It’s only fitting that Allen Hughes’ definitive piece on Tupac and Afeni Shakur delivered a record performance for us and it speaks to Tupac’s enduring legacy,” said FX Entertainment president Nick Grad. “Allen’s examination of Tupac viewed through the prism of his mother Afeni is a fascinating take that really gets beneath the education and experience that shaped his life and inspired him to become one of the greatest artists ever.”
The five-episode series is executive produced by Hughes, Lasse Järvi, Quincy Delight Jones III (QD3), Staci Robinson, Nelson George, Charles King, Peter Nelson, Adel “Future” Nur, Jamal Joseph and Ted Skillman.
From Allen Hughes, the award-winning director of critically acclaimed The Defiant Ones, comes FX’s Dear Mama, a deeply personal five-part series that defies the conventions of traditional documentary storytelling to share an illuminating saga of mother and son, Afeni and Tupac Shakur.
Afeni Shakur was a revolutionary, an intellect and a voice for the people. She became a feminist darling of the ’70s, a female leader in the movement amidst the macho milieu of the Black Panther Party. Tupac was a rapper and poet, a political visionary and philosopher who became known as one of the greatest rap artists of all time. In addition to becoming a global sex symbol and media favorite for his outspoken and sometimes outrageous antics, he would eventually become the poster child for modern Black activism. Their story chronicles the possibilities and contradictions of the United States from a time of revolutionary fervor to Hip Hop culture’s most ostentatious decade.
FX’s Dear Mama is both an audio and visual experience. Tupac’s timeless message is undeniable as beats evaporate into soundscapes and his lyrics revealed to be mantras of passion and politics. It eschews strict chronology for a style that slides back and forth in time, finding linkages between mother and son, 1970s and 1990s, black activism and hip hop, that highlight how much has and has not changed in the struggle for human rights. Through this technique, the eras speak to each other and melt time away, shifting the dual narratives into one definitive portrait of a global superstar and the woman who shaped him, forever linked by love and fate.
Episode 1 titled “Panther Power” – Air Date: April 21
17-year-old Tupac navigates school, poverty, and family, dreaming of using poetry and music to spread the message of his mother, Black Panther activist Afeni Shakur. Haunted by her past, Afeni fears it will affect Tupac’s promising future.
Episode 2 titled “Changes” – Air Date: April 21, 2023
Tupac bursts on the scene in music and movies, but being a mainstream star and a militant activist comes at a cost. Afeni’s activism lands her and her Panther comrades in a political show trial that could end with all of them in prison.
Episode 3 titled “So Many Tears” – Air Date: April 28, 2023
Tupac’s legal troubles escalate, with multiple different arrests, culminating in his being charged with sexual assault in New York; Afeni is the voice of the New York Panther 21, defending herself at trial; the two trials have different results.
Episode 4 titled “Ambitionz As A Ridah” – Air Date: May 5, 2023
Tupac spends nearly a year at the Clinton Correctional Facility at Dannemora; he leaves hardened by the experience and immediately joins Death Row Records.
Episode 5 titled “Until The End Of Time” – Air Date: May 12, 2023
After attending a Tyson fight in Las Vegas, Tupac is shot and killed; Afeni is paralyzed with grief after the death of her son; she manages to secure Tupac’s legacy.