The 10 most underrated black sitcoms that are also some of the best part 2.
I know it’s been a while but part 2 of ten most underrated black sitcoms is finally here! Ten more gems of shows that we don’t talk about enough if at all in the conversation of truly great and funny black situation comedies.
Thea was more than a Black version of Roseanne. Thea Vidale stars as Thea Turrell, a single mother raising four children, two of which include Jason Weaver(Smart Guy, The Jacksons: An American Dream, and Lion King)Yvette Wilson (Moesha, The Parkers) and Brandy (Moesha, Cinderella). The show had heart and laughs in abundance, and was a sitcom that we don’t see much of anymore: No “gimmick” or “hook” to try to get an audience’s attention, just a nice family comedy with a pretty solid cast of actors that would go on to do bigger and better things that decade. The show only made and aired 19 episodes before cancellation.
9. South Central.
Possibly the darkest sitcom up to that point in 1994, South Central was never afraid to keep it all the way real. The show starred future legend Larenz Tate and also introduced us to pre Moesha Lamont Bentley and Shar Jackson, and Maia Campbell from In The House. The show hit hard topics such as drugs, unemployment, gang violence, teenage sex, gun violence etc. and even had a major character, the youngest member of the Mosely clan and foster child, never speak a word due to witnessing the murder of his parents. The show was lauded by critics but declined in ratings along with the rest of the Fox Tuesday line up that included The Sinbad Show, Roc etc.
8. Between Brothers.
This male answer to Living Single starred four prominent and multi talented 90s black male stars: Kadeem Hardison, Diondre Whitfield, Kelly Perine and Tommy Davidson. Between Brothers was finally a show at the time that focused on the lives of twenty something Black men, a demo that hadn’t been catered to much if not at all up to that point. Their love lives(or lack thereof), careers and differing personalities were all used as fodder for laughs. The chemistry between the four guys felt genuine and was relatable for any crew of young brothers trying to figure out this thing called life.
7. The Royal Family.
Redd Foxx will always best be known to tv viewers as Fred Sanford from Sanford and Son, but did you know that for one season he co-starred with Della Reese and Larenz Tate on a family sitcom created and produced by Eddie Murphy (Yes, THAT Eddie Murphy) called The Royal Family? The show was simply about an elderly couple taking in their daughter and her three children, but it had a lot of love and humor, as well as an unexpectedly great pairing of Foxx and Tate, being their answer to Bill Cosby and Malcolm Jamal Warner of The Cosby Show. Of course after Redd Foxx passed away of a heart attack on set the show was shortly cancelled.
In 2003, the UPN network gave rapper turned actress Eve her own sitcom. Eve was the diverse answer to Friends: Three girls and three guys; all six twenty somethings. Two of them dated but broke up and stayed friends. Only difference is there was black folk. The show had a strong cast with really good chemistry, and if not for the merger of UPN and WB forming the CW the should could’ve went beyond just four seasons.
5. Cousin Skeeter.
A lot of people might not remember this one, but this was a favorite of my family and myself as a kid. The Nickelodeon original starred Bill Bellamy(Love Jones, How To Be a Player) Robert Richard(One on One), Meagan Good( Think Like a Man 1 and 2, Deliver Us From Eva) Angela Means (Friday) and Rondell Sheridan(That’s So Raven, Cory In The House, Raven’s Home). The uniqueness of this otherwise normal family sitcom is that the title character Skeeter happened to be a puppet, though no one ever acknowledged that fact. It also had one of the all time most memorable and just plain great theme songs in tv history.
4. For Your Love.
Yvette Lee Bowser, creator of Living Single and Half and Half did it again with this smart, funny and relatable sitcom about three couples and their significant stages in their relationships: The fear of commitment “shacking up” couple, the newlyweds and the “old” married couple. With such a great, cast including Holly Robinson-Peete, James Lesure and Tamala Jones, this is certainly a show that had a lot going for it for a nice 5 seasons. Though it was robbed of getting to the full 100 episodes (It was cut at only 87) so now we can’t even get it in proper syndication.
3. In The House.
In The House originally starred Debbie Allen along with LL Cool J, but after the show was cancelled after two seasons on NBC, it moved to the UPN network and got retooled with In Living Color’s Kim Wayans and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Alfonso Ribeiro added to the cast. If you ask me the show worked much better this way, and the chemistry between LL, Kim, Maia and Alfonso made for great television comedy.
2. Sister, Sister.
Sister, Sister may not be considered all that underrated, but in this author’s opinion it’s not appreciated enough for being the funny, unique family sitcom it was. You certainly don’t have a family on tv like the Campbell-Landry clan. The best thing about the show was that while it was certainly centered on the Mowry twins, the show never put Tim Reid and Jackee Harry’s Ray and Lisa on the back burner. The parents were as integral and developed on the show as the girls were.
1. Frank’s Place.
Fresh off of WKRP In Cincinatti, Tim Reid and WKRP creator Hugh Wilson created Frank’s Place. A sitcom-drama about a little restaurant called Chez Louisiane in New Orleans, ran by well to do Brown University professor Frank Parrish(Reid) who inherited the restaurant from his estranged father. The show was very unique in its time, being one of the rare dramedys on television, as well as one of the pioneers for a more positive and diverse representation of African Americans on television in the 1980’s alongside The Cosby Show, A Different World, 227, Amen and In The Heat of The Night. The show only lasted that one season (1987–1988) but still has made a huge impact, and has received such acclaim as TV Guide naming it #3 on its 2013 list of 60 shows that were Cancelled Too Soon. Rolling Stone also ranked it #99 on its list of the best sitcoms of the television era.
Link to part 1:
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…
’Til next time, folks!