Top 10 Greatest Black Sitcoms of All Time.
Uh oh. Looks like this is gonna be a tuffy. When it comes to iconic sitcoms featuring some of the most talented and beloved black casts of all time, it’s impossible to narrow it down to ten of the greatest… But I’m gonna try anyway. Here are just ten of some of the greatest and funniest black sitcoms ever made.
10. Everybody Hates Chris. 2005–2009.
The autobiographical sitcom loosely based on Chris Rock’s childhood became an instant classic back when it premiered back in the good old days of 2005. The show boasted a terrific cast and hilarious, wildly absurd scripts. It has been my opinion that Everybody Hates Chris remains the last great classic black sitcom and that hasn’t changed as of yet.
9. The Bernie Mac Show. 2001–2006.
The Bernie Mac Show was a pioneer for the sitcom format when it made its debut. One of the first sitcoms of its era along with Scrubs and Malcolm In The Middle to do away with the live studio audience or laugh tracks that dominated situation comedies and do a half hour single camera little comedy every week with no laugh track and no audience. The show helped shoot Mac into super stardom and has become a beloved modern classic with its sharp writing, memorable cast of characters, and relatable and funny situations. The show won quite a few awards over the course of its run including the Emmy for Outstanding Writing For a Comedy Series for creator Larry Wilmore.
8. Living Single. 1993–1998.
Before Living Single, the ups and downs of life in your twenties as a young black man or woman was never delved into on television. The show starred a killer ensemble of four luscious ladies and two dapper dudes. Living Single was and still is funny, hip and eternally stuck in a wonderful 90s kinda world.
7. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. 1990–1996.
This is a story all about how this classic 90s sitcom turned the whole world upside down. This Will Smith vehicle soared the Fresh Prince to true royalty and gave us one of tv’s most lovable and endearing families. The show was full of laughs as well as heart. It also turned its star into one of the world’s biggest movie stars. Not bad for a kid from West Philly, huh?
6. Good Times. 1974–1979.
Those sure were some good times when this iconic Norman Lear, Eric Monte and Mike Evans created sitcom came on the scene. The Evanses were given the honor of being television’s first black nuclear family and certainly one of its most iconic tv families to boot. JJ was the break out character but the entire cast of characters became household names and iconic figures. Sharp, relevant, and hilariously funny, Good Times was and still is “Dy-No-Mite!”
5. The Cosby Show. 1984–1992.
What Good Times, The Jeffersons and more started, The Huxtables took to the next level and made The Cosby Show America’s number 1 sitcom five years in a row as well as the savior of sitcoms in general at the time where the sitcom was considered a dead genre. The show was groundbreaking as well as just plain warm, funny and even educational. No matter what has happened the past few years there might never have been the incredible renaissance of black television if not for the remarkable success of The Cosby Show.
4. A Different World. 1987–1993.
This Cosby spin off in the opinion of many, including my own, managed to surpass its mothership and become a television icon all its own. A Different World had such iconic and relatable characters that we all recognized and fell in love with over its six season run. The show had a lot about it that made it iconic: From its connection to The Cosby Show to the legendary courtship between Whitley Gilbert and Dwayne Wayne. But its most pivotal piece of legacy is that it put HBCUs on the map, giving the universities huge jumps in enrollment during the 80s and 90s.
3. The Jeffersons. 1975–1985.
Before the Huxtables moved on in to our hearts The Jeffersons moved on up to the east side and made television history. The show was a spin off of the iconic and controversial All In The Family, but managed to make its own mark as one of tv’s funniest and most beloved sitcoms watched by all races. The characters became household names and its stars had continued success after the series was unfortunately cancelled, especially Marla Gibbs and Sherman Hemsley, both of whom went on to star in two other classic sitcoms 227 and Amen.
2. Martin. 1992–1997.
Whoever had the idea to give Martin Lawrence a sitcom must be swimming in his or her enormous pile of money because the success of Martin is still thriving to this day. There might not be a black person anywhere on earth that has never at least heard of the show or know of its classic sayings\catchphrases. When it comes to pure comedy, very few sitcoms of any color have managed to equal or surpass Martin. The show was a great blend of absurd sketch comedy type humor and a beloved representation of black love in all its facets from the romantic to the deep bond of friendship.
- Sanford and Son. 1972–1977.
There are great sitcoms and then there’s Sanford and Son: An immortal sitcom of the highest order. X rated comic Redd Foxx being given a network sitcom was shocking to the tv watchers of the 1970s. But what we ended up getting was one of if not the funniest sitcom ever made as well as one of the most groundbreaking tv shows period. When Sanford and Son’s pilot episode premiered back in 1972 it was instantly a massive success. As Demond Wilson aka Lamont Sanford said in his GetTv interview: “When the pilot aired, it got a 52 (ratings) share, which is unheard of. It outdrew the World Series.” As the first attempt at doing a show with a Black cast since 1950s sitcom Amos & Andy, Sanford and Son certainly was a home run. The show gave pop culture some of the most iconic and memorable lines of dialouge and characters. Fred G. Sanford, Lamont, Aunt Esther, Grady, Rollo, Julio, Bubba, Smitty, Hoppy, Leroy, and Skillet etc. are household names. Without the success of Sanford there wouldn’t even be a Good Times, The Jeffersons, Cosby Show, Martin etc. It has been imitated or straight up stolen from by many other sitcoms over the decades which speaks to its overall legacy. Sanford & Son are certainly a royal family ;)
I couldn’t bare not finding a way to include some other all time classics somehow. Here are some honorable mentions that easily make it on a bigger version of the list (In no specific order) :
What’s Happening. 1976–1978.
The Jamie Foxx Show. 1996–2001.
The Wayans Bros.1995–1999.
The Steve Harvey Show. 1996–2002.
Sister, Sister. 1994–2000.
The Parkers. 1999–2004.
My Wife & Kids. 2001–2005.
Family Matters. 1989–1998.
Diff’Rent Strokes. 1978–1986.
Kenan & Kel. 1996–2000.
The PJs. 1999–2001.
Smart Guy. 1997–1999.
Til’ next time, folks!