9 Black Sitcoms That Defied Preconceived Notions Of The African-American Family

November 26, 2013  |  


Where are the Black sitcoms that portray the Black family as a cohesive, healthy unit? You know, the sitcom about the happily married couple — with decent houses and incomes — who parent some mischievous kids? Instead, Black programming has been replaced by a swarm of reality TV shows that consistently depict the Black family as broken. Look at Black Ink. Nearly all the men are drowning in “baby mama” drama. Love and Hip-Hop never fails to portray Black men as scheming adulterers and women as objectified fools — a far cry from Mr. and Mrs. Huxtable!

Phil Banks, a respected judge on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and his wife, a teacher who taught at an upscale prep school, have been replaced by a new reigning king and queen of Black television: Stevie J and Joseline Hernandez — it’s scary, I know.  Check out the list of quality programming that we really, really wish would come back to rectify the deteriorating image of the Black family.

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  • Beamer Beamer

    There is not one comedic sitcom on today that is a positive portrayal of the black american, not one. You can miss me with the yelling, twerking, and who did who’s man. Our kids are watching this crap.

  • BAP

    Ravens dads name was Victor,owner of the chill grill lol

  • ebonychai

    I would have liked to see Moesha on this list…successful car salesman father, school teacher and later principal mother….normal teenage issues…

  • stewwie

    There is an agenda behind the declining in black family shows, Hollywood is showing and promoting black family dysfunctionality and interracial agenda……and they know reality imitates fiction very well.

    At least in the past, black kids who didn’t have an intact family structure would watch TV and see what a good family life is like, NOT ANYMORE. Instead they get a bunch of ratchet bougie black women fighting and being down right disgusting. Black girls are being taught to belive black men are good for nothing, sex crazed dogs and deadbeats. Black Boys on the other hand are being taught to believe being a man is getting as much pu$$y as you can and black women are obnoxious creatures you should stay away from. But black women can’t really complain when the majority of them are watching and supporting this shows.

    You can’t just blame Hollywood for this negative image of us, when we are pathetic enough to take whatever attention given to us, even if that attention is down right evil.

  • LoveTheBlack

    I LOVED almost all of these shows. Cosby, Everybody hates Chris, and Sister Sister were probably my favorites. But, I really could watch any of these shows any day!

  • What Had Happened Was

    Correction: The Jeffersons is a 70s show since it started in 1975 and was cancelled in the 80s. It was cancelled in 1985. I know because I loved this show growing up. 🙂 Good list, by the way.

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  • guest

    How closed minded can we get, there are a lot of two parent successful parents which is very realistic. Where i grew up in middle class America when we had a strong middle class America families of such were and are still very realistic.
    Negativity is why we don’t dream for more we act as if success is so out of reach. we can achieve and have a life that is positive and productive. May I add not just with money but love in the home with two successful parents.

  • ThaVoiceoftheVoiceless

    I’m going to catch flack for this, but I don’t understand the hype over The Cosby Show. You could even make the case that Family Matters and Rosanne was more realistic than The Cosby’s. Yes it portrayed an African American family in positive light, but the concept of both parents being that successful is unrealistic in the majority of homes today.

    • WhatHadHappenWasIGotTired

      I never understood why people said that the Cosby show was unrealistic. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it. Have friends who have done it or are doing it, as well as family. So it does happen. Not all African American families are poverty stricken and crime ridden. I don’t understand why we feel the need to only represent that sector of our people, when we are multifaceted.

      • ThaVoiceoftheVoiceless

        I’m not referring to poverty stricken and crime ridden families. I’m referring to the average family. Which is why I would Rosanne and Family Matters as examples. They were not rich, but they were the average hard working family that many families could relate to. How families out there do you know that have parents that are doctors and lawyers or are close to that level?

        • guest

          What’s wrong with having a black family that’s more successful than normal? I think its great. Its something to aspire to. Who wouldn’t want to have it all like the Cosby’s did? Great Careers, wonderful family, and lots of love.I fail to see what the problem is.

          • ThaVoiceoftheVoiceless

            The problem is that it’s unrealistic for the majority of families in today’s society especially older ones. That’s why Jersey Shore was so successful in it’s early run.

            • enlightenment

              Why would The Cosby Show not thrive today? Blacks, then and now, are the underdogs when it comes to economic status. I believe it was successful because it portrayed us in a positive light. And it would be just as successful today. if we ever needed a positive image on TV, it would be now.

              • ThaVoiceoftheVoiceless

                But the majority of shows that have tried to portray us in a positive image have either failed or only lasted a few seasons.

                • guest

                  1 Julia lasted for 3 seasons.
                  2. The Jeffersons lasted 11 seasons
                  3. Good Times lasted 6 seasons (and say what you will about the peripheral characters on the show, but James and Florida remain to this day two of the BEST, most positive parenting examples EVER on TV).
                  4. Living Single lasted 5 seasons
                  5. Girlfriends lasted 8 seasons
                  Those are not a “few seasons,” and in the TV world, I believe these numbers are pretty good
                  The more these shows are created and produced, the more it will continue to happen in future years. Also, it will continue to have a positive impact, no matter how big or small, on the Black community. A Different World, for example, has been credited for A.) sparking a significant increase in Black males attending college, and B.) the overall increase in enrollment at HBCUs.

                  • ThaVoiceoftheVoiceless

                    I’m talking about in recent years.

                    • guest

                      I can’t think of any positive Black shows from recent years. Today, reality shows permeate the air waves and I just wouldn’t classify them as positive (to be fair, I don’t watch them, but I read snippets). This is why I had to go back to the 60s through the early 2000s to pull my examples. Maybe if we stopped watching ‘hood-ratchetness and demanded quality Black television shows, some of today’s lost and misguided youth would actually see they can aspire to more than being a basketball star or his gold-digging side chick.

                    • IAgree


                    • Robi

                      The Berne Mac Show, My Wife and Kids

    • Guest

      Dear “ThaVoiceoftheVoiceless”
      I had this discussion with a white co-worker one day, and because I could only believe that she had been led to believe that “The Cosby Show” was unrealistic by the dominant culture to which she belonged, I gave her this morsel on which she could stew. William (Bill) Cosby, if you ever paid attention to the credits of his show, holds a doctorate in Education. What many do not know is that Cosby created “Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids” is an actual element of his dissertation. The man, who was the “first African American male” to have a ongoing role in a television show (I Spy). During “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World”- the spin off, also created by Cosby” enrollment of black students in universities (historically black and otherwise) increased; it preserved cultural heritage while displaying the realism in African American success and failure.

      I don’t want you to feel like you are catching “flack”, I think you, like so many of us in this country, are misinformed and uneducated regarding this show’s purpose. Dr. Cosby, while not many people’s favorite now, speaks from a standpoint that many of us did not see personally, but were told was real, possible, and accessible. I grew up very poor, but every Thursday at 7:00pm, we had a family moment; and in those thirty minutes (an hour when A Different World started), I saw and heard things that I, my brother, and my sister, one day would acquire…and we did; as did many of my contemporaries.

      Side note… I wrote a brief research paper on Dr. Cosby in graduate school. Education & Knowledge really are powerful.

      • ThaVoiceoftheVoiceless

        Totally understandable.

    • MeepMoe

      I see what you’re saying, but I think we need shows, like Cosby, that give us the extra nudge: “Like hey, this is what you can be!”

    • Coco

      I personally liked the families like Everybody Hates Chris &
      Rosanne a liiitle more because I could relate to them personally. I grew up with both
      parents in a middle-income home; we struggled here & there, but we
      (well, almost!) always had enough. I do not, however, think it’s unrealistic to have one or two successful parents, live in a nice house, drive a fancy car, etc. Some black families got it like that, ha.

      • ThaVoiceoftheVoiceless

        I know that lol, but the majority of African American families these days aren’t like that. That’s my point.

    • YRR

      How/what are you judging the average American family by? The President and Michelle are both lawyers. Before he became President, they were both working and taking care of their daughters. There are many American families where both parents are educated, professional and successful. Most professional couples either met in college or on the job. Please don’t buy into the belief that the average family is struggling financially, can barely provide for their children and are working minimum wage “jobs,” instead of well paying careers.

      • jac

        In 2012, the median household income in the US was just over $50K (US Census). We did not even mention what the numbers are for Black Americans. The average family IS a struggling family.
        Now, this is not to say that two well paid married Black professionals is not possible…and NO, all are not “ghetto” poster children, if that’s the image that we are really trying to dissociate from… But Cliff & Claire are an uncommon combo. I think that’s a huge reason why they did so well in homes of all ethnicities.

    • anonymouse

      yep, I never got how she had that many kids and still was a very successful lawyer and they had no nannies. Usually a woman with that much professional ambitions would only have 1 or 2 kids….that’s it. .And don’t get me started on the age range of the kids, the mom and the dad. The color spectrum of the kids always threw me off as well……I still watch it, but those reasons are why I’m not on board with it being the greatest sitcom ever.

    • sh8896a

      My mom is a doctor and my dad worked for Northrup Grumman, so I guess I was more like the Cosby’s than Everybody Hates Chris. Although I enjoyed both shows immensely because they were well written and had fabulous casting.

  • Baddvixentype

    CORRECTION: Tia had the single mother & Tamara had the single father.

    • MNAuthorKim

      Thanks for catching that. Fixed!