‘BMF’ series details the life of a family and a redefined American Dream

The series has already been renewed for a second season

The 1980s is a decade that redefined Black America. Reaganomics and the explosion of crack in Black and Brown communities opened Pandora’s Box, leading to an explosion in crime, death, and drug addiction from which many communities are still recovering. The 1970s were marked by a painful national recession that devastated the country, and like the old adage goes, “when white America catches a cold, Black America catches pneumonia.” In New York, the crisis led to the origin of hip-hop music and culture. 

In Detroit, it created a new era of organized crime. 

Before the Black Mafia Family, there was Young Boys, Incorporated — a drug enterprise that used minors because they would get less time if they were caught. They introduced a criminal lifestyle to a whole generation of young Detroiters, leaving death and destruction in their wake.

Scene from the Starz series "BMF"
Scene from the Starz series “BMF.” (Photo: Starz)

Several years in the making, a series chronicling the life and rise to infamy of the Black Mafia Family and its founders, Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory, and his younger brother, Terry “Southwest T” Flenory, has been released.

BMF is produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Detroit native, Randy Huggins, who noted that his writing on the series is personal. At the red carpet premiere of the show in Detroit, Huggins said, “As much as this is Meech and Terry’s, it’s my story and it’s Detroit’s story.” 

At the same event, Russell Hornsby, who plays the family patriarch, Charles Flenory, said, “[The Flenory brothers] came from a loving God-fearing family. I think that’s paramount, it’s important to show America, to show our people that family does exist.”

The series is not only about drug sales. It tries to explain how abject poverty and systemic racism, paired with the disinvestment in Black communities create an atmosphere for an organization like BMF to rise from the concrete. 

Scene from the Starz series "BMF"
Scene from the Starz series “BMF.” (Photo: Starz)

“(My dad) just before he dropped out of school, he was too embarrassed to even go to school because he had holes in his shoes and he was so poor,” Demetrius Flenory, Jr said of his father. “Not even that it was just a different era. Back then, the violence in Detroit, not to mention Detroit, was like the number one murder capital of the world in that day. And it was just filled with poverty and crime and drugs and violence, you know. So, he didn’t have the same opportunities I had.” 

Flenory, Jr, who is known as “Lil Meech,” was tapped years ago to portray his father in the series. It was what his father wanted, and what 50 Cent wanted. Recently, he told theGrio that playing his father on BMF felt like “big shoes to fill.” He revealed that in preparation for the role, Jackson planted him in acting classes for two years.

“He made sure, you know, I had the foundational acting before I just jumped out there on screen and didn’t have any acting experience, you know, as far as any classes,” said Flenory. “[I took] intense acting classes, five days a week, [sometimes] two times a day, for two years.”

He noted that he had to “understand the obstacles that he had to overcome, you know, at such a young age—he was already a man back then, the man of the house taking care of his family at 10 years old.” 

Lil Meech has said that portraying his father has been an emotional experience. “My dad got taken away from me and my mom. I had to watch my mom cry, she suffered so much. It was challenging, but it was just emotional—the whole experience, but I got through.” 

In 2005, the Flenory Brothers and many of their affiliates were arrested for running a huge, multi-state drug ring. The brothers were charged under the Continuing Criminal Enterprise Statute, conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and two counts of possession with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine.

They were convicted and sentenced to 30 years in federal prison. Terry was released in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meech recently had a sentence reduction and is expected to be released in 2028. 

“50 really—you know, he really wanted to make sure that everybody was happy. He didn’t want to do it only his way. He [produced the series in a way] where my dad, and my family was proud. And that’s what meant the most,” Lil Meech says. “Everybody’s proud. Like my dad is happier than everyone else. I’ve never heard him this happy on the phone. So I’m just glad everything works out so well. And I hope people love it. You know, we really put blood, sweat and tears into this.” 

The series was “one of the most highly engaged series premieres ever, with a strong completion rate across OTT platforms based on preliminary reporting,” according to Shadow and Act. It has been renewed for a second season. 

Scene from the Starz series "BMF"
Scene from the Starz series “BMF.” (Photo: Starz)

Detractors have said that BMF is another series that glamorizes drug dealing which has undoubtedly had negative impacts on the Black community. BMF was one of the most visible and recognizable drug organizations in recent years and the name “Big Meech” has become synonymous with being a flashy, flamboyant boss.

In a 2012 interview, Big Meech was asked why he thinks people idolize him. He said that he was “not sure it’s correct for me to give an specific reason of why people idolize me.” He added, “but to be looked upon as an idol is a great achievement for all of the years of sacrificing, hard work, and dedication building Big Meech and the BMF reputation and brand.” 

For Lil Meech, what he wants is for people to see his father as a person. “You know, we should show people he really is a loving, caring man, a family man, not just what people think he is, because right now people only can hear opinions and go on the Internet and find documentaries, but they don’t really know how he really is.” 

He added, even “to this day, he gave me the opportunity to play him—a once in a lifetime opportunity.” 

Lil Meech noted that he thinks the series and the story of BMF can resonate with any audience. “I just hope people understand and read between the lines of the real story. You know, it’s a love and care story about a family, brotherhood and loyalty.” 

“It has a soul to it, you know, more than anything. It doesn’t matter what race or ethnicity you are, you don’t have to be black or white. You can still watch it and feel connected to it because everybody has a family,” he added.

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download theGrio.com today!