Sitcoms That Went South: Was It Ratings Or Bad Writing?
Black sitcoms in the ’90s made for good TV. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. The question, though, is what caused these thoroughly beloved shows to suddenly find themselves without network homes after long — and sometimes rather short — runs? Did the sitcoms’ core audiences just outgrow the characters or did the plots go too left for fans to keep interest? You tell us.
“Family Matters” started out as a great sitcom for families, as the name suggests. There was always a positive message at the end of every episode and Steve Urkel always made you laugh. Then, they changed Harriet’s character to another lady and Jaleel White played two characters, Steve and Stephon. The family was taking trips through space machines and he actually ended up marrying his long-time crush, Laura. The thrill of the show was the chase between Urkel and Laura so once that element was gone, it just stopped working.
This show’s momentum went down hill after Toni left, but we shouldn’t be surprised. Whenever someone leaves a show, it’s never the same afterwards. “Girlfriends” had a good run though. It was like a black version of Sex and the City!
Everbody Hates Chris
This had to be one of the raciest shows on TV… right behind the Boondocks and South Park. “Everybody Hates Chris” was a good show because it was real– a little too real for some folks because it was off the air before we knew it. Thankfully for fans, the re-runs stay in heavy rotation.
The Wayans Brothers
Everybody knows the entire Wayans family is cheesy, which is why Sean and Marlon’s show was just that. Yet, it was likable — for a few seasons at least, especially with John Witherspoon playing the dad. “The Wayans Brothers” did reach its 100th episode and managed to have one the best jingles around, but it was canceled on the WB before they could even finish the last season.
For Your Love
To put it simply, this show was super corny. I do love Tamala Jones and Holly Robinson Peete but this just didn’t make the cut. Even with adding a Caucasian couple, the show failed to attract “different” viewers. The issue may have been that it had an adult appeal, though, since teen friendly shows were running TV around that time.
All of Us
The little boy in this show is one of the cutest kid stars I’ve seen in a long time and then you had Lisa Raye and Duane Martin as the main characters with Will Smith backing the show as Executive producer, but the people just weren’t buying it. Elise Neal was even in the first season but nothing she does ever seems to pops off. Producers got rid of her and added Chris Rock’s brother, but even he couldn’t save the sitcom.
D.L Hughley is not as funny as people make him out to be and there was no comedy in this show. Elise Neal was in this sitcom as well, racking up yet another role that didn’t help her career. Again, the forces behind the show tried throwing in a token Caucasian element but viewers weren’t falling for it.
Malcolm and Eddie
Both Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Eddie Griffin were well known on their own but they didn’t make for a great TV show together. With ratings that steadily declined each season, the show was a wrap after 89 episodes.
Half and Half
Half and Half was a cute little comedy starring Essence Atkins, but for some reason this show just didn’t stand out. It was good for what it was but it wouldn’t make the list for best black sitcoms.
For Better or Worse
I will give Tyler Perry some credit for trying to revive Black sitcoms. “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne” were decent but not even Tasha Smith could make “For Better or Worse” better. Plain and simple, this show was awkward. It didn’t have a laugh soundtrack when it first aired and most times I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
When you talk about a good show, “Lincoln Heights” comes to mind. This was about as close as we’ve gotten to bringing back a good black sitcom, but unlike the affluent Huxtables, this was about a family living in the hood. The mother was a nurse and the father was a cop. It showed how they were still raising their family with good morals despite their environment and it even aired on ABC Family. Unfortunately, people shut it down before it could even reach it’s true potential.
The Bernie Mac Show
Now this show is only on the list because when Bernie passed away, it forced the show to fade. Every episode was hilarious but we could see a change when Bernie became ill. He just wasn’t as lively. He tried, though, and this show still makes for good TV.
We enjoyed watching rapper Eve on TV because we had the chance to see her as an actress and for her to prove that she could do more than just rap. The show wasn’t bad either. It was funny and it talked about real life situations, but people just didn’t seem to watch. Maybe if it aired around the time the “Parkers” did it would have been a hit.
I hate to be the one to say it (again) but this show just isn’t what it used to be and now without Melanie and Derwin…You can’t do this show without Melanie and Derwin! Brandy and Lauren London cannot save this show and even though Wendy Racquel Robinson is doing her thing, she can’t do it alone. This show was good when Melanie and Derwin werre on the come up, but the writers pushed the story too far too soon once they started living the glamorous life.