Underrated Gem: The Steve Harvey Show.
On August 25th 1996, The WB debuted The Steve Harvey Show a sitcom that centered on has been funk\R&B music star Steve Hightower of the fictional Steve Hightower and the High Tops working as a music teacher(later also Vice Principal) at Booker T Washington high school counseling and wrangling students like the dimwitted, womanizing and smooth talking Romeo Santana played by the late Merlin Santana(R.I.P), off kilter and equally dimwitted best pal Stanley Bullet Head Kowalski and the overachieving dorky girl Lydia Liza Guttman played by Lori Beth Denberg.
Other faculty at the school were Steve’s best friend and the school’s Gym Teacher and Football coach Cedric Jackie Robinson played by Cedric The Entertainer, Cedric’s girlfriend later wife the feisty, quirky and ghetto fabulous Lovita Alize Jenkins played by Terri J. Vaughn and the sexy, intelligent and feminist icon principal who was also Steve’s off again\on again romantic partner Regina “Piggy” Grier played by Wendy Raquel Robinson.
The show was created by Winfred Hervey, a writer\producer of such sitcoms as Laverne and Shirley, The Golden Girls, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and In The House starring LL Cool J.
The Steve Harvey Show is one of the funniest sitcoms in television history in my opinion, as well as one of the most award winning for an African American sitcom with multiple NAACP awards and others under its belt.
It’s also one of the few sitcoms after Welcome Back Kotter that is centered on a school and its teachers that actually worked, with most shows with that premise mostly failing like the attempt with Craig Robinson’s 2015 short lived sitcom Mr. Robinson that fizzled out rather quickly. And yet it seems to be overshadowed quite often in conversation when talking classic 90’s sitcoms or great black sitcoms in general by Living Single, Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air etc.
But it had a lot going for it: 1. The ensemble cast was perfection. Granted it took a few seasons to get the cast perfect, and by the way the first few seasons were actually pretty solid and enjoyable television on their own merit… BUT the additions of both Terri J. Vaughn and Lori Beth Denberg were what propelled the show to greatness with every actor and character adding so much to the comedy of the show, and throw in the chemistry amongst the cast that was so great all around that it puts many other Tv shows to shame. Before diversity became a buzz word and a way for television shows to cover their behinds or to prevent getting attacked by social media outrage, this show had a diverse cast but rarely if ever highlighted the fact, and even when it was highlighted it was usually a joke or two. Talk about real progress that we’ve seem to have gone backward the last several years it seems.
It also boasted an impressive number of guest stars, especially ones famous in the music industry thanks to Steve and Cedric’s musical backgrounds including Lil Bow Wow, Ron Isley of The Isley Brothers, Lady of Rage, Sean “P Diddy” Combs, Jermaine Dupri, Busta Rhymes and Snoop Dogg.
The show also never jumped the shark in my opinion and only got better as it went on unlike such popular shows like Friends, Blackish, The Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother and many others. The first couple of seasons like I said earlier were perfectly funny and solid pieces of television but the show seemed to just gell perfectly from season 3 up until the 6th and final season ended which is rare for most Tv shows, and is why The Steve Harvey Show deserves more credit and appreciation then it gets.
The theme song which is shown above is also a classic with such passion, high production value and quality which we definitely don’t see the likes of today on any television show broadcast or streaming. Performed by Patrice Rushen, it’s a theme song for the ages.
In closing, if you’ve never watched this great show what the heck are you waiting for? Watch it and enjoy the example of black excellence on television. ‘Til next times, folks!