The 10 Most Underrated black sitcoms that are also some of the best ever made.
When it comes to black sitcoms the main ones we talk about and remember are the big dogs like The Cosby Show, Sanford and Son, Good Times, The Jeffersons, What’s Happening,Girlfriends, The Jamie Foxx Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Martin and Living Single…. And that’s it? No, no, no. There have been so many wonderful sitcoms featuring African American comic talents that deserve so much more love and appreciation than they get. The 1990’s and early 2000’s in particular were such pivotal decades for black television and became a golden era, so much so that we still haven’t caught up with it yet in 2021, although much better than we were ten years ago. Here are ten wonderfully funny sitcoms featuring black actors that more than hold their own with Fresh Prince, Living Single, Sanford and Son etc. as top notch black comedy at its finest.
10. That’s My Mama.
The 1970s sitcom centered on a barber and his sharp tongued mother starred Amen’s Clifton Davis in his first lead tv role as well as Ted Lange of Love Boat fame, Theodore “Teddy” Wilson known as Sweet Daddy Williams from Good Times and Theresa Merritt as Mama, Eloise Curtis.
9. Half and Half.
The series starred Rachel True and Essence Atkins as two completely different half sisters that move in together and become an Odd Couple. The series also starred veteran actress Telma Hopkins, Valerie Petiford and Chico Benymon.
8. One on One.
UPN’s classic father\daughter comedy that came out in 2001 and ended on 2006 was centered on the wacky adventures of sports reporter Flex Washington played by Flex Alexander and his teenaged daughter Breana played by Kyla Pratt. It was also a coming of age story with the father learning how to be a dad and the daughter going from a young girl to a young woman. The series also starred Kelly Perine, Robert Richard and Sicily. After the fourth season the show changed the premise with Breana and Arnez moving into a beach house with housemates including Ray J.
7. All Of Us.
The Will Smith\Jada Pinkett produced sitcom starred Duane Martin as Mr. LA Robert James, a man constantly put in between his ex wife Neesee James played by Lisaraye McCoy-Messick and his fiancee Tia played by Elise Neal. He does it all for his sweet son Robert Humphrey James Jr. “Bobby” played by Khamani Griffin. The series also starred Tony Rock, Terri J. Vaughn and James Vincent. The premise changed once Elise Neal, Terri J. Vaughn and James Vincent left, becoming a show about a divorced couple forced to live together and co parent their son.
6. Smart Guy.
The WB family sitcom starred Tahj Mowery as super ten year old genius TJ Henderson who faces coming of age type adventures in high school while also dealing with his quirky but loving family. The series also starred Jason Weaver, Essence Atkins, Omar Gooding and John Marshall Jones.
5. The Hughleys.
Considered the modern day “The Jeffersons” and the “Pre Blackish” show about successful Vending Machine company owner Darryl Hughley played by DL Hughley, and his family dealing with being a black family from the hood now living in the suburbs. The series also stars Elise Neal, Eric Alan Kramer, Marietta De Prima, Ashley Monique Clark, Dee Jay Daniels and John Henton of Living Single fame.
4. The Parkers.
The Parkers was a spin off of the successful UPN sitcom Moesha, starring Countess Vaughn and Monique as mother\daughter Nikki and Kim Parker that go to college together, live together and face the trials and tribulations of life together. The series was all about a daughter trying to gain independence from her mother while the mother is trying to keep hold of her daughter and refuses to let her go. It was also all about Nikki trying to get her “Boo” aka Professor Stanley Oglevee played by Dorian Wilson. The series also starred the late great Yvette Wilson, Ken L and Jenna Von Oy.
3. The Wayans Bros.
This WB flagship show starred Shawn and Marlon Wayans as brothers Shawn and Marlon Williams that share an apartment and a life together. The series also starred the late great John Witherspoon and Anna Maria Horsford.
2. Malcolm and Eddie\The Steve Harvey Show.
This is a tie because I couldn’t not get both of these in there could I? But anyway, Malcolm and Eddie was about two odd couple roommates, Malcolm McGee(Malcolm Jamal Warner) and Eddie Sherman (Eddie Griffin) one who owned a bar and the other who ran a garage. As the series evolved both turned Malcolm’s Bar into a night club. The series co starred Karen Malina White and Christopher Daniel Barnes.
The Steve Harvey Show centered on washed up musician Steve Hightower becoming a high school music teacher. Steve’s students, Romeo(Merlin Santana) , Bullethead(William Lee Scott) and Lydia Liza Gutman(Lori Beth Denberg) drive him crazy while also having to deal with his on again\off again romance with principal Regina “Piggy” Grier(Wendy Raquel Robinson) He also shares an apartment with best friend high school coach Cedric Jackie Robinson(Cedric The Entertainer) and later Cedric’s ghetto fabulous girlfriend turned wife Lovita Alize Jenkins(Terri J. Vaughn) whose also Regina’s administrative assistant.
Roc was 1990’s black answer to All In The Family, addressing very real social issues of the time such as drugs, gangs, gun violence, infidelity, impotence and racism. The series starred Charles S. Dutton as Roc Emerson, a proud garbage man who was married to the beautiful nurse Eleanor played by Ella Joyce, his elderly father Andrew played by Carl Gordon and his mooching unemployed hustler brother Joey played by Rocky Carroll. The show later brought in Alexis Field of Kenan and Kel and Sister, Sister fame as Shiela, a young girl that Roc and Eleanor take in.