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We Used To Be On TV

Growing up in the late ’80s and ’90s, there were a good number of Black sitcoms on television. Families and friends that came in various shades, sizes and make up.

From the wholesome families of The Cosby Show and The Fresh Prince, to the dorms of A Different World and the hallways of The Steve Harvey Show as a young person I could see images of myself as a kid, pre-teen and a teenager on each of these shows. That sense of validation is priceless.

Then as a young adult I had shows like Living Single and Martin, where friends who now lived on their own dealt with relationships, corporate jobs or the lack thereof and the ups and downs of forging your own path.

Seems like these images are hard to come by now. Are they replaced by catty reality stars? Or have we settled for the watered down Tyler Perry versions of Black sitcoms on Peachtree TV?

Everything is cyclical so maybe we’re just going through the quiet period before the¬†resurgence happens.

Which ones were your favourite shows and why do you think we don’t see those images anymore?

7 Comments

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  1. Moy says:

    I got down with each and every one of these shows.

    I knew exactly what I’d be doing Thursday night — Martin, Living Single, New York Undercover. Done.

    I never really thought of it as a big deal that Family Matters was on ABC right after Boy Meets World but looking back now, I see that it was. Those days of mainstream representation seem to be long gone.

    I kind of feel like the future of black television isn’t on television. It’s on the internet. Webseries give us the freedom to represent ourselves without the shucking, jiving, and coonery of Tyler Perry’s shit.

    • Najat says: (Author)

      New York Undercover! Another great show that featured hot hip hop artists at the end of the show playing at Natalie’s (I think that was the name of the bar they always went to after work). So right that having Family Matters on during prime time following Boy Meets World was a big deal. We don’t have that kind of mainstream exposure anymore.
      But is it that we have been relegated to the Webseries? These black sitcoms were also on when there were black movies in theatres – Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Juice, etc.

  2. lamin says:

    reality tv probably costs less money for networks and produces the same ratings if not more….its sad

    • Najat says: (Author)

      It is sad. Networks are lowering themselves for cheap laughs meanwhile good writers and actors aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Hence we should all watch Scandal and support black writers (see what I did there lol).

  3. day says:

    a different world hands down. i wanted to go to hillman college when i grew up. looking back it was amazing to me how they were able to make the show entertaining while still tackling serious issues, like teen pregnancy, racism, sexism in the workplace, etc…. and i wanted to be kim!

    • Najat says: (Author)

      Agreed re entertaining while tackling serious issues. A Different World had me wanting to go to a HBCU too. Motivating us to think of post-secondary at such a young age. Miss that show!

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