All Articles Tagged "Living Single"
Yesterday, I stumbled across the above meme on my Facebook timeline. Naturally, my first reaction was hell yeah. Of course, “Living Single” was better than “Friends.”
But then I had to ask myself, do I really believe “Living Single” was better than “Friends” simply because I can relate to the Black characters a little bit more than the White ones?
In all fairness, I watched a lot more “Living Single” than “Friends,” still with the way the latter show dominated in ratings and influenced pop culture, it was difficult to avoid altogether. So I’ve seen enough episodes to know the characters’ personalities, their storylines and of course, Phoebe’s “Smelly Cat” song.
But when I think about the show as a whole, I generally found it to be mindlessly entertaining. You might have watched the show and chuckled once or twice, but ultimately found it hard to describe what you just watched. Like “Seinfeld,” it was perhaps designed to be a show about nothing. Unlike “Seinfeld” though, the dialogue surrounding these everyday occurrences was rather surface. I posed the question to my boyfriend afterward and he agreed that “Friends” was mostly just a series of jokes, back to back to back, about a particular situation.
He said, basically, that when you’re done watching “Friends,” you’re just done watching “Friends.” But when you finish an episode of “Living Single,” even if it wasn’t particularly serious, often times you asked yourself what you would have done or would do in a similar situation. And I think that speaks not only to the writing of the show but also the fact that the characters on “Living Single” were just more developed. They were all so distinct yet it still made sense for them to be friends. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall that distinctiveness with the characters from “Friends.”
And for those who might be wondering, despite the ways in which “Friends” eventually eclipsed “Living Single” ratings wise, (“Friends” was rated number 3 out of 114 shows, while “Living Single” was 85.) it didn’t air until the year after “Living Single” premiered.
As Kim Fields said in a Los Angeles Times interview, “Living Single” is not the Black friends, instead, “Friends” is the White “Living Single.”
I don’t know how much development “Friends” had undergone before it was released, but the similarities to its all Black predecessor are uncanny. 20-something New York implants, living in the same building. There’s the slightly slow guy Overton—> Joey. There’s the quirky and offbeat girl, Synclaire —> Phoebe. There are the potential relationships between the characters. Overton and Synclaire or Kyle and Max—> Chandler and Monica and Ross and Rachel. I could go on, but you get the point.
Aside from the fact that White people, a clear majority in the early ’90’s, were more likely to support and identify with a show that featured characters like them, it was also exaggerated by the fact that Warner Bros., the company that produced both “Living Single” and “Friends,” invested much more money into “Friends” than into “Living Single.”
In that same LA Times interview, Queen Latifah, remarking about the size of the “Friends” billboard, in comparison to the piece of billboard “Living Single” shared with other Warner Bros. shows, expressed her anger toward the discrepancy.
“It just pisses me off every time I see that ‘Friends’ billboard and the little piece of our billboard. I mean how much more of a push do they need?”
Yvette Bowser, “Living Single’s” creator and executive producer, said that neither Warner Bros., or Fox, the network that aired the show, were not there for them.
“It’s disappointing that we have never gotten that kind of push that ‘Friends’ has had. I have issues with the studio and the network over the promotion of this show.”
Being that Bowser was one of only a few Black women producers in the the television industry at the time, I’m sure there were other factors, beyond the show’s content, that made it less than the top priority for Warner Bros. or Fox.
Still, despite the failing of the network and studio, “Living Single” was still one of the most popular series for Black, Latino and teen audiences. I wonder how different those numbers would be today.
If you ask me “Living Single” is still getting the shaft. Today, over a decade after it went off the air, you can still find “Friends” merchandise being sold by NBC. And you better believe that all seasons are available on DVD. Meanwhile, I don’t even recall any “Living Single” merchandise. And as for DVDs, Warner Bros has only agreed to release the first season, alleging that there isn’t enough demand for the release of the other seasons.
Since Warner Bros. is still hellbent on downplaying the show’s brilliance, we’ll just have to celebrate our show ourselves. “Living Single” was easily better than “Friends.” And while we don’t have to put down one to uplift another, as Latifah said back in 1996, they don’t need another push.
I remember there were times when I was single and full of, er, curiosity that my more conservative friends would say, “Are you sure you want to do that?” And I, probably with a Jameson shot in my hand, said, “Why wouldn’t I?!” Now I know why: there are some things you do when you’re single that you regret when you’re in a serious relationship. Like these.
Do you head out for the night with your friends feeling on top of the world? You’re certain you’re going to meet someone tonight. You can feel something in the air. But you always end up at home, alone, feeling disappointed? Your single friends might be killing your game!
If it weren’t for endless reruns of Law & Order Special Victims Unit, Criminal Minds and everything on Food Network, I would probably get rid of my television all together.
Simply put, there is nothing on the tube. To be specific, there isn’t enough variety in the stories being told. Particularly the ones about and, sadly, made by Black women.
The original programming I see with a Black woman lead character focuses so much on her love life that we forget these women have lives outside of the men they’re dating, dodging and being dogged by. From Mary Jane Paul leaving Andre only to have the next stage of her storyline revolve around her ex, David, to Scandal focusing more on Olivia’s relationship with Fitz than her work with her consulting firm, it’s all about love. Everything else about a character’s life that is also of importance has to take a backseat, and frankly, I’m frustrated with this narrow focus.
And please don’t tell me that reality television is our new normalized reality. If we’re not watching every Black woman’s struggle boil down to the hands of a man (hence the word “Love” and “Wives” in all the program titles), we are squabbling with other women. But we are not shadows of the opposite sex. The opposite sex does not consume the ways in which we conduct our lives or our relationships with other women. Or at least they shouldn’t.
There are no sitcoms or late-night shows to binge-watch that showcase Black women in the real. Our daily life. For instance, pursuing businesses – and not striking another female contender down while doing so. Balancing healthy relationships with friends and family first, and dealing with the quirks and problems with everyday life–and then the men who provide us with intimacy and sometimes heartbreak after the fact.
There are no Girlfriends, just frenemies using each other until the water runs dry. I don’t see women facing loss and having the unwavering support of true friends. Women who are a shoulder, filling up your glass and still affirming your beauty and purpose as you sit there with a tear-stained cheek, runny mascara and all. All of our encounters aren’t catty. And that’s the problem: there is no variety to offer a semblance of balance. Yes, there is attitude and shade, but do not forget the support and love. Yes, characters should have relationship issues, but does that have to be the breadth of every episode? Where’s the variation? Where’s the depth?
I loosely base the pursuit of my writing career on Khadijah James. I wanted to write and eventually start my own magazine just like her. In my head, my friends and I would be the modern-day “Living Single” – quirks and all. On that classic sitcom, a woman owned her own business, and though James (played by Queen Latifah) didn’t have a man by her side a majority of the time, her life was full. Amazing friends and experiences provided her with the comprehensive story she needed and that we needed to see. Bringing a man (i.e. Scooter) into her life didn’t become the center of her storyline, but a side story that provided her with a healthy partnership.
If it’s more and more of the same, TV can keep their dime-a-dozen Stevie J and Joseline spinoffs and their lovelorn Black women characters. I’m holding out hope in the meantime that Issa Rae’s upcoming HBO series, Insecure, will fill a void, and that her characters will have more to talk about and deal with than the same old woes.
Until then, mindless reruns and missing Elliot Stabler will have to suffice.
I often sit around and lament, silently or verbally, the fact that only one season of “Living Single” was released on dvd. I mean, I understand that all good things must come to an end, but having all of the episodes in my possession would have certainly softened the blow.
But it looks like someone out there saw fit to ease our suffering…partially.
Tea and Breakfast recently broke the news that two of our faves, Kim Coles and Erika Alexander, who played Synclaire James and Maxine Shaw (attorney at law) respectively, are launching a new webseries called “The BFF Chronicles.”
So far, all we know is that the show, according to their Facebook page, “is about two friends, Erika Alexander and Kim Coles, and their wacky tales of being BFFs.” We don’t know what direction this new webseries will take; but judging by this image we found on the upcoming show’s Facebook page…
…we’re willing to bet it’s going to be worth a watch.
Seeing as how Maxine was easily my favorite character on the show, with her dynamic personality and physical comedy, I’m ready for this.
Plus, I’m happy to see talented Black actresses and comediennes take their careers into their own hands, in the midst of an industry dominated by White men, and create the content in which they wish to participate.
And I certainly wish them the best of luck on this new venture.
If you want to be kept abreast of the latest developments; and of course, the premiere date, follow “The BFF Chronicles” on Facebook and be sure to subscribe to Kim Coles’ YouTube channel where the first video will debut.
Are you excited about this new webseries? Will you be watching?
The holidays are about a lot of great things, but there’s nothing quite like curling up to watch marathons of your favorite holiday sitcoms. Here are 15 of our favorites from over the years!
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – “Twas The Night Before Christening”
Remember when Will told everybody he was going to bring Boyz II Men to Nicky’s christening and he actually made it happen? Man, I’m getting chills just from thinking about their soulful rendition of “Silent Night.” It took some serious convincing (especially since Will stole Wanya’s girl from back in the day when they all lived in Philly) but we’re glad the brotherly love prevailed.
If I watch a show and the main couple’s chemistry is flat, I count it against the show as a whole. But if the main couple’s chemistry (or the main character and their side-piece) steam up the screen, I’ll be watching…consistently. An on-screen couple with awesome chemistry is a must, and these 11 pairs made their characters’ love all the more believable.
Mary Jane Paul and Andre Daniels
There were so many times during the first season of “Being Mary Jane” that I wanted Mary Jane to woman up and leave Andre’s married behind alone. But I can’t lie, their chemistry was insane. They’re probably the only two people in the world who could make getting down in the foyer of a home and in a dirty gym shower enticing.
We don’t have to tell you, you already know that “Living Single” is classic television. It was new and innovative as far as television standards go, it was funny and hip. And it was relatable. How many of us didn’t see ourselves in at least one of those characters. And since Warner Brothers is being stingy and won’t release anything beyond the first season of the show, we must continue to live and relive the glory days. So come along with me as I put ya’ll on game and teach you some things you probably never knew about one of your favorite shows.
The holiday season always gets us thinking about family, but what about your friends? It’s also the season to spend time with your best friends (did you see The Best Man Holiday?) — especially if you are young person with limited finances and you have to pick ONE holiday to return home (usually Christmas) and the other(s) to kick it with friends (usually Thanksgiving and/or New Year’s Eve). And what better way to celebrate friends than for us to relive some of our favorite black buddy sitcoms and their hilarious, friendly moments.
“Living Single” was black folks’ Friends for sure. In a 90s kind of world, they were glad they had each other, and we (fans) were glad they had each other too while making us laugh along the way. We fell in love with the characters of our version of 20 somethings trying to make it in their careers, love and friendships in the Big Apple — including the always-hungry attorney and the extra roommate Maxine (Erika Alexander), the uptight magazine editor Khadijah (Queen Latifah), handyman Overton (John Henton), the bourgeois-wannabe Régine (Kim Fields), the troll-loving Synclaire (Kim Coles) and the Maxine–hating-then-loving stockbroker Kyle (T.C. Carson).
From Hello Beautiful
We can’t believe it’s been two decades since we first met and fell in love with Khadijah, Synclaire, Regine, Max, Overton and Kyle — better known as the cast of the hit 90′s show “Living Single!” This year marks the 20th anniversary of the beloved sitcom and the show’s biggest success, Queen Latifah revealed to Essence that a reunion show with her old cast members may be in the works!
That juicy little tidbit not only got us anxious, but we started reminiscing about one of our favorite sitcoms ever! And you know what we remembered most? Khadijah’s (played by Queen Latifah) love life was a revolving door of very handsome stars. Remember when that tall drank of water, Grant Hilldesired Khadijah so much, he wrote a song about it? We’re hoping those rumors about the “Living Single” reunion is true! Check out Khadijah’s little black book below.
See more at HelloBeautiful.com