Dear Post Racial America: Your TV programming sucks for black people. I don’t want to watch The Game, I thought Girlfriends was boring, and Single Ladies? BOOOOO. Coming of age during a time where black entertainment was at its finest, leaves current programming wanting. So for those of you unfamiliar with Sherry Carter, and have only seen The Fresh Prince and The Cosby Show in syndication, these Sevens are for you. Seven Glimpses at Black TV History:
7. “A Different World” – The Wedding Episode
A good friend of mine has a strong argument about why Dwayne Cleophus Wayne was one of the single most selfish and undesirable characters in black television. Logically, I have to concede a bit. However, the nerdy girl who loves nerdy boys will always have a soft spot for the Brooklyn kid who got an 800 on his math SATs. Therefore, I loved the Whitley and Dwayne love story. In real life, what Dwayne did was selfish and disruptive. In TV Land though, hearing him plead “BABY…BABY PLEASE!” Honey…loved it. Really, that was the show reaching the mountain top, because it didn’t lost very long after they were married.
6. “Martin” – Guard Your Grill
Deciding on my favorite Martin Episode was hard. But I think the episode when he challenged Tommy “The Hit Man” Hearns to a fight was the most hilarious. To this day, I can’t envision Martin and Gina praying “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep,” without laughing until I cry. I honestly can’t describe how funny this is, so I’ll let you watch.
And then, there’s this:
5. “Living Single” Regine Plans An Ex’s Wedding
It’s hard to find one moment in this very hilarious episode of one of my most favorite shows. Heavy D and Viveca A. Fox guest starred in this episode as Regine’s ex and his cheating betrothed. My two favorite parts of this episode was when they all met up at the church (where Regine discovered Viveca’s character making out with the best man, Freddie*), Kadijah began to sing “Shout,” and Maxine whooped, hollered and danced through the pews. The second moment was, after Regine revealed Viveca’s cheating ways, and was reminded they were in the house of the Lord, Regine snatched off her wig and said “FAHN! let’s take it outside.” When people engage the Girlfriends v. Living Single debate, to me, there’s no comparison.
Blurry, but still hilarious.
4. “Family Matters” The Urkel Dance
Listen, Family Matters had some of the worst acting I’d ever seen in my life, but it was light and fun. In the strangest way, it was a very unique show depicting a black family. I happened to like the black, nerdy anti-hero who was Steve Urkel. The kids were at a rooftop party, and no one was dancing. So Steve rallied the troops, and performed a very awkward dance accompanied by a nasally rap. His joy so angered the other guys at the party, they spiked his drink and he almost fell off a building. Did I mention that Family Matters was a bad show? Yeah. But it was ours, and for the season, that damn Urkel dance was EVERYWHERE. They played it to DEATH.
Yes. That is a very young Larenz Tate.
3. “Good Times” The Punchbowl
I know most of the shows come from my tween and teen years, but this is one of the most epic moments in black history, because every black child knows it. The Evans family spent every episode almost getting out of the projects, only to be stomped out by the man within the last five minutes of the show. The Evanses were about to head for the promised land of Mississippi (what?), when James was tragically killed in a car accident. Florida held it together, to the point that she angered her kids with her calm. But then, shit gets real
2. “The Cosby Show” Grandparents’ Anniversary
I’m certain I don’t have to explain why The Cosby Show was ground breaking for how the African-American family was viewed. Whether you could relate to the lifestyle of the Huxtables or not, it was incredible that a upper middle-class black family was so wholly embraced, not only amongst black programming, but dominated its time slot for YEARS. And when the family celebrated Cliff’s parents’ anniversary by lip synching Ray Charles’ “Night Time is the Right Time,” that was all we talked about at school the next day. I still get excited when I see it.
1. “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” C’mon man…you know which one
Rapper turned actor was still a relatively new phenomenon when The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air came out. It was funny, super light, and Will Smith was downright goofy. He was supposed to be my husband (life’s a funny thing). Then came the episode when Ben Vereen came into my baby Will’s world as his father, turned it upside down and broke his heart by abandoning him again. There is not one child of the 90s that doesn’t get broken up and sheds thug tears when they hear, “How come he don’t want me man?”
What would you add to the list?
*We won’t discuss WHY I can remember Best Man Freddie, but NOT Heavy D’s or Viveca’s names.