Sitcoms are the heart of North American television.
They’re easy to digest, great for the whole family to watch, and one of the first forms of visual media people could easily consume on their TVs at home. It’s amazing to see how much of our contemporary culture has been shaped by TV. Some of today’s biggest cultural icons had their start on comedy shows and episodic sitcoms.
With today’s push for diversity in TV, it’s easy to forget there are a lot of Black-led TV shows floating around from an era of television where Black people had a bigger volume of representation on screen. The ’90s and early 2000s were full of Black-led sitcoms.
Of course, that era ended as TV executives realized those same innovative shows could be replicated with a white cast.
Nevertheless, there were a lot of great Black sitcoms back in the day, which you can now
watch thanks to streaming services. Here are a few shows you can watch whenever you feel nostalgic but also want to try something new.
Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper
Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper is a show like Perfect Strangers of the ’80s and ’90s, which starts with an adult comedy feel that leans more into the family-friendly market in the second season.
It’s about a professional basketball player who becomes a basketball coach in Oakland, California.
It’s a fun, light-hearted show with great comedy and, later, with the more family-oriented tone, it sends great messages to kids. It’s great for the whole family.
This show is great to try because it differs from the traditional sitcom format.
The Parkers is a spin-off of Moesha, another iconic Black sitcom that’s a little more mainstream. This show stars Countess Vaughn as Kim, a college student and singer, and Mo’Nique as her mother, Nikki.
As Kim enters college, Nikki decides to follow her to finally have the college experience she never got. In this show, the mother-daughter pair learns to understand each other as they enter a new environment.
Before the actresses made their foray into daytime television and reality—before the likes of Twitches and Twitches Two—Tia and Tamera Mowry stared in the iconic sitcom Sister, Sister.
The premise of the show is a pair of twins get separated at birth and adopted into different
families. Years later, the girls run into each other and discover they had a secret twin all along.
Their parents decide to raise the daughters together and the rest is history. A show all about family and the struggles that contrasting personalities might face, Sister, Sister is great to watch to see where two icons of our childhood had their most impactful starring roles.
Arguably one of the most iconic shows of its time, Living Single is a show about six Black professionals living in a brownstone in Brooklyn, New York.
Featuring a fun, energetic cast with great chemistry, this show ran from 1993 to 1998 with five seasons under its belt.
It features the struggles of trying to make a career for yourself in New York City with characters growing and changing through the series, advancing in their career, and developing relationships while staying close as friends.
The cast is stellar, but one of the standout people on the call sheet is Queen Latifah, who wrote and performed the theme song, “We Are Living Single.”
Next time you’re mindlessly scrolling through streaming services looking for something new to watch, consider these Black-led series rather than another Friends rewatch.
Black-led shows, community, Sitcoms, Television
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