The newest season of a show that highlights why some people turn to illegal activities as a means to survive premieres on Monday night following the death of its beloved host.
“Black Market with Michael K. Williams” takes a deep dive into the nitty-gritty of several different hidden, criminal markets that fuel daily life for many in the United States, such as credit card scamming, boosting and flipping fashion, black market body modifications and more. Originally narrated by the late Michael K. Williams, the show aims to give a voice to those who have no choice but to rely on illicit trade to survive.
“The show is a compassionate look at people who are involved in illicit markets and why they are there,” said Matt Goldman, Executive Producer of “Black Market.” “It kind of pulls the curtain back a bit and offers everyone a different perspective that sometimes this is the only choice.”
The show received positive feedback for its first season and was in production for its second season. Unfortunately, Williams passed away in September 2021 amid the show’s production — all of the principal photography and filming had taken place, but not all of the narration.
“It was more than a TV show for Mike, it was a platform, a way to reach out and connect with people and hear their stories, tell their stories in a compassionate way,” said Goldman. “There were three episodes that Michael wasn’t about to complete. Mike was the driving force behind the show, he was the guiding light. It’s so hard to imagine it without him, but in terms of continuing it and how we finished, it was extremely challenging. We were all heartbroken and dealing with grief. The only way we thought we could finish was to call on loved ones that we all know Michael loved and loved Michael, and let’s all do this for him.”
After Williams passed away, actress and rapper Felicia “Snoop” Pearson took on his role in the show as a narrator alongside other guest narrators.
“I just feel honored because everyone knew that I gave my brother his flowers before his demise,” said Pearson. “I just feel honored that I could fulfill his footsteps, and they are hard to fulfill. Mike wears a lot of hats, I just kept asking questions: Did I do good, did I do alright? Because this was my brother, I stopped everything I was doing — you need me, I’m here. I know he would have done the same.”
Like the first season, the second season of “Black Market” zeros in on a specific black market that you might have known existed before. Those who participate in each episode give viewers access to information about the business but also allows you to get to know them as people and what led them down this path in the first place.
“It’s told from a lens of compassion and empathy. We really want the audience to have a deep understanding of who these individuals are and why they made the choices they made,” said Goldman. “I think that’s ultimately the goal of the show. This is a crime show like none other, yes it focuses on illegal activities but we want to talk about hows, the whys, the wheres, and show people the full side of it as to why some people have made these decisions and that there may not have been other options for them.”
“I learned a lot in the episode I did for the show,” said Pearson. “It was about body modifications. I can’t put no shots in making their story, they go through a lot. I just learned a lot.”
“It shows was desperation can do to you,” said Goldman. “The episode that Felicia narrates really opened my eyes. It’s jarring to learn about some of the things that are going on in terms of illegal body modification and the lengths that people go to to get things for their own wellbeing that insurance isn’t covering.”
Other episodes this season that Goldman and Pearson found fascinating was the episode on water and the lack of access to clean drinking water and the boosting and reselling of fashion that is taking place in New York City. Though the first season had an impact on viewers, which many have said served as an education for them, but also had a profound impact on those who are highlighted in the show.
“Those subjects we visit with on the show, they’re really happy to get their side of the story out. No one’s listening to them, they don’t have a platform, they’re ignored, they’re underserved. This show gives them a voice,” said Goldman.
Both Pearson and Goldman hope that the show continues to show audiences that they can empathize with the show’s subjects as that is what Williams was aiming for when he created the show.
“Mike was giving the underworld, the black market, a voice. and I was honored for them to call me to try and fulfill my brother’s shoes for his project,” said Pearson. “I see what he was doing and I was honored. that’s what I want people to take away from this season, he put his heart, his sweat, his tears into the show. He put his everything into it, it was one of his babies. This one right here was precious to him.”
“After the first season, I’ll give you a quote that he said in terms of how he wanted the show to impact,” said Goldman. “In 2016, he said this to Esquire: ‘I only wish that audiences will walk away with an understanding and empathy of what people have to do to survive, even if they don’t agree with the methods.’ I think that kind of sums up what he wanted it to impact people.”
The second season of “Black Market” premieres on Vice TV at 10 p.m. on Jan. 10. You can follow Pearson on Instagram @bmoresnoop.