A Love Letter to…90s/00s black sitcoms
I only realize now how lucky the black kids (and non-black kids who were curious) who grew up in my generation were. We grew up seeing black people, black families and black experiences on the television every night of the week.
Now we have Blackish, Empire and Blackish and Empire and Insecure…we are in a resurgence of “black tv” they say. I remember when the WB (before it was the CW) was the channel to watch (props to Kelsey Grammar for Girlfriends).
I remember when it didn’t matter that there were no black people on whatever the equivalent was of friends was. It didn’t matter because there was just so much representation elsewhere.
I remember almost all of the words to the theme songs for Living Single, Family Matters, Moesha and more.
I remember seeing issues being resolved on Sister, Sister and The Fresh Prince that looked just like the ones my family had to tackle.
I remember identifying with the precious kid character on Hanging with Mr Cooper and Family Matters. It really just seemed like the world view in my head was mirrored, influenced and constructed by what I saw on these shows.
I remember thinking that college was a given and thinking about which character I would be most like on a A Different World. I also remember thinking I would have a group of friends like on Living Single. And of course I had a reference point for the different friendships I could expect later in life.
I very much remember most of these actors as extended family members. I like the Raven Symone I remember. I love that Kim Fields was first Regine for me but Tootie to the generation before me. I love seeing King Latifah go from rapper to actress to producer to bad ass mf that makes clear why her Khadijah character was actually a real possibility.
I remember the mundane and trivial moments that happened on these shows. There were no white saviors, these were not the sassy sidekick shows, there was no undercurrent of racism or other barriers at the core of these shows.
It’s why “Insecure” speaks to the adult me so strongly. It’s not about the fighting you see on “reality” tv or the character actors playing drug dealers, thugs and angry black people. Don’t get me wrong, we have all of those things too, but it’s nice to see a well-rounded and nuanced portrayal of what my life is or could be.
Thankfully there are reruns and Netflix/Hulu…