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This Week in Black Television: Whatever Happened to the Black Sitcom? pt. 1

by Curtis Caesar John
November 2, 2012 3:14 PM
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cast of For Better or Worse (courtesy of TBS)

It is quite obvious these days that there aren’t many good quality Black sitcoms on the air.  And there aren’t any, good or not-so-good ones, on primetime TV.  We do have The Game on BET, which I cover regularly in this column, but shows with original concepts and stand-out Black talent have got us like a fat kid and cake: coveting it now. 

It may not be fair to compare these shows to The Cosby Show, Roc, A Different World or even Living Single, but can they at least be good enough to compare them to The Jeffersons?  Heck, can we ask them to be good enough so we can compare them to Moesha (which started and ended badly but had many great moments in between)?

So what Black sitcoms – and by that I simply mean shows starring and created by Black talent – are out there and which ones are worth watching?  I’ll list a few with my opinions of them and if you haven’t watched them, you can check them out – or not – for yourself. 

Family Time

The first produced show on the BOUNCE tv network, a station I actually enjoy from time to time with little seen movies with Black actors like Greased Lightning and The Liberation of L.B. Jones., the sitcom Family Time stars Omar Gooding as Tony Stallworth, a blue-collar worker who wins $500,000 in the lottery and moves his family out of the Los Angeles ‘hood to a middle-class LA enclave.  Co-starring as Tony’s wife Lisa is grown-up one-time video girl Angell Cornwell - recently of the soap The Young and the Restless as well as Gooding’s co-star in John Singleton’s Baby Boy – a young woman who grew up in the same subdivision the Stallworth’s now live.  Cornwell plays good off of Gooding, especially when they loosen up in later episodes and get used to each other. Omar Gooding himself is an always-likeable television actor with good timing capable of making the best out of what’s given to him.  In his short lived series Barbershop (2005), based off of the movie and co-starring Toni Trucks of the recently canceled Made In Jersey (note: the show was so corny, wasn’t even worth a write up in this column), Gbenga Akinnegbe from The Wire, and acting vet Barry Shabaka Henley, the most under-appreciated Black show of recent history, Gooding juggled dealing with multiple female leads (to me something he does best) like Trucks’ character Terri, his wife Jen (played by Anna Brown), and his mother (sitcom and stage vet Roz Ryan), among others. 

In Family Time his overbearing mother is played by Judyann Elder, an actress you may have seen in various shows and movies since the 1970’s.  A graduate from the arts-friendly institution of Emerson College, she is a founding member and resident actor with the Tony Award winning Negro Ensemble Company and originated roles in plays such as Ceremonies in Dark Old Men (co-written by now deceased ex-husband Lonne Elder III, screenwriter of Sounder, Melinda, A Woman Called Moses, among other classic Black-starring and themed vehicles); Elder toured with the company internationally and later made her Broadway debut as Coretta King opposite Billy Dee Williams in “I Have A Dream”.  I say all that to say that Elder has gravitas and displays her stage skills as Tony’s annoying mother, the Lisa-hating Beverly. 

With all those family sitcom standards in place, enter the annoying kids: Jayla Calhoun as Ebony, whose cuteness and timing make her bearable for now and the wanna-be-cool Devin played by the overacting Bentley Kyle Evans Jr., son of executive producer Bentley Kyle Evans of Martin and The Jamie Foxx Show-fame, who is also he co-creator of this show along with Trenten Gumbs. 

My overall feel is that show is decent.  While many of the situations and pacing are mirrored by if you’ve regularly watched five normal sitcoms in your lifetime, you’ve seen Family Time.  The theme song is very gospel-y/Good Times-like for me, as is the silly dancing each cast member does (you can’t replicate The Cosby Show’s openings, so stop trying all!).  Still, Gooding as I’ve mentioned is on-point again as a man working to do better for his family and himself and Cornwell commands her leading lady role for all it’s worth, with a little ‘hood, a little good girl, and a little mommy-ing mélange.    They make the show worth tuning into each week.  Having premiered this past summer, there’s still no word on if it is coming back for a second season. 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

For Better or Worse

While Tyler Perry’s latest sitcom, first premiering last November, is based on his Why Did I Get Married? movies, they are really only so in spirit and character names alone as Michael Jai White’s Marcus Williams and TV wife Tasha Smith as Angela Williams navigate the ups-and-downs of married life in their trouble-filled upscale urban life.

They are raising a son MJ, played by the seldom-growing Bobb’e J. Thompson (does he have a Gary Coleman-type physical problem?) and ex football player Marcus spends his days with co-partners Richard (Kent Faulcon) and Joseph (Jason Olive) on their sports television show while Tasha runs her successful hair salon while her best friend Leslie (Cyrstle Stewart) hears all about her crazy troubles.  The show, as some critics nicely summed up as part-situation comedy/part opulent soap opera has a lot of dramatic storylines touching on infidelity, lost lovers resurfacing, and basically a whole lot of lying and half-truths to blow up past the point of importance.  

Like a soap opera, For Better has a lot of wealthy pretty people with problems that they’re created all on their own and it’s obviously targeted toward an audience of that liking.  However the only thing worse than the writing is the acting.  Both White and Smith are normally engaging actors, and were the standouts in the Tyler Perry movies, but for whatever reasons the script and everyone’s execution of it is painful. The show feels rushed, which given the stated back-to-back-to-back shooting schedules that Perry’s shows employ (as do shows like Anger Management) should probably be no surprise.  I’m hoping the show got better in its second half of season two as it pained me to watch earlier episodes. If you feel it has, please share. 

Rating: 2 out of 5

The Rickey Smiley Show

Although premiering to unprecedented ratings for TV1 with 835,000 nationwide viewers in primetime, comedian and radio host Rickey Smiley’s first television, in which he plays a, surprise, radio show host, is really bad.  In fact, it’s unwatchable. Usually I’ll state some pros and cons of a show in order to give you a somewhat unbiased opinion but with this show I cannot. It’s really TRSS that made me want to talk about the dearth of good quality Black sitcoms in the first place.

I realize a lot of these new stations owned by Black companies for the Black audience want to create a family atmosphere of programming. I get the socio-economic reasons for doing so.  However, the acting in TRSS, especially from the lead is the worst of all and I feel that a family sitcom is the worst vehicle for him.  And the acting is bad not in a Jerry Seinfeld in the first season of Seinfeld was bad kind of bad but in a “please take at least a week of acting lessons” kind of bad.  When the best actor on the show is Ray J, you have a problem. I take that back, Roz Ryan as Aunt Sylvia is the best actor here, helping newly-divorced single dad of three Smiley around the house as he navigates his new standing.  However she appears in two out of twenty-two minutes of the show, leaving us with Smiley, his son Brandon (a sometimes good but often annoying Jay Lewis [often better known as Lil JJ]), boy hungry daughter De’Anna (Ajliona Alexus), and intelligent little Gabriel Burgess as youngest son Aaron.  Burgess is actually pretty good too, but I fear its because we’d rightfully accept less from a child actor than an adult one.   But on the skill scale the constantly corny, requisite horny old-guy radio show host, J. Anthony Brown, supplants young Burgess playing Rickey’s radio station general manager Maurice. 

Okay, so in my ranting I forgot about Noree Victoria as Rickey’s manager Simone. Related to both Eubie Blake and Penny Johnson Jerald (acc. to TV1’s website) she’s alright in her role and has some on-screen presence. It’s obvious that if she works at this she can get better.  However, Smiley brings down his own show and he’s not believable as a dad or as a should-be charming radio talk show host, despite being both in real life!

Coming back to the family angle, if they focused the show more on Rickey’s dating (Ep. 3 entitled “the Dating Game” had some funny moments in that regard) the show might actually have something going for it, even with that concept not being wholly original. The producers and writers have a lot of Tyler Perry shows in their listed credits, which make sense as the pacing of TRSS is similar to those shows. I suppose it’s the same audience, but the main issue is that all these shows seem to cater to that audience and not to a more sophisticated comedy one. 

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

The reason why many flock to online webseries like The Couple and Awkward Black Girl is because they write with more nuance and insight into the Black population and overall audience mindset (especially to the under-40 crowd) than the now average Black sitcoms do.  It’s no wonder that true Black sitcoms are practically non-existent. 

In the next installment of this topic I’ll see if Single Ladies really works for today’s audience, revisit Let’s Stay Together, and check out Black talent in other sitcoms to figure out where this genre can improve.

Follow Shadow and Act’s This Week in Black Television writer Curtis Caesar John on Twitter (@MediaManWatch) and check out his film blog,

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  • ALM | November 10, 2012 6:07 PMReply

    What's wrong with "The Jeffersons"? I could never find "Family Time" in Bounce's line up. It must have been on during the same time that some huge show like "The Voice" is on. The previews of FBOW turned me (and several others) off. It's one thing to see Tasha and Michael go at it for a few minutes here and there in a movie. It's quite another thing for her to play to stereotypes each week by screaming at her husband. TRSS is so bad that I felt as if they literally lifted lines from other shows by watching a marathon of random shows on the couch. I like Rickey as a comedian, but something went very wrong in the creation of this show. The monster ratings have been due to 1. Curiosity (to see if the show is any good) 2. People are so starved for a decent sitcom, that they are settling for sub par shows for the time being (until the next "Fresh Prince", "A Different World", etc. comes along). Speaking of which, Quincy Jones really should consider starting a mult-week boot camp television writing and production course. Even though "In the House" isn't listed in most African American's top twenty sitcoms of all time, I really enjoyed the show. "In the House" is 20 times better than most of the sitcoms we have to choose from now.

  • Celtics Fan | November 5, 2012 4:09 PMReply

    We still have some good sitcoms. What about 'The First Family','Mr Box Office', 'Soul Man', and 'Guys With Kids'?
    BTW I think For Better Or Worse is underated.That's one of my favorite shows right now.

  • JMac | November 5, 2012 2:33 AMReply

    I'll have to respectfully disagree with GiGi re:most of our classic shows were written, created, etc... by whites so that's why the current ones suck. Overall, shows that we look up to as standards were written by (or primarily by), definitely created by, regular produced by black folks. Good Times, What's Happening, The Jeffersons, Cosby Show, A Different World, Living Single, Bernie Mac Show, Everybody Hates Chris, Roc (even though I thought that show was pretty bad), Martin = Eric Monte, Mike Evans, Bill Cosby, Yvette Lee Bowser, Larry Wilmore, Bernie Mac, Chris Rock, Warren Hutcherson, Orlando Jones, and many more. Almost all of these shows were executive produced by blacks... not sure on the directors. Sole holdouts seem to be Amen, 227, (2 shows that not many people mention as fave sitcoms - also why I'll leave out Jeff Franklin shows since his creations all sucked, white and black) and to a lesser extent Fresh Prince. Maybe that's why Will is hesitant for a black writer? I'll put my money on writers trying to dumb down everything to get either those reality show, Real Housewives audiences or the Tyler Perry crowd. Bill Cosby, Eric Monte, and Mike Evans definitely had the burden of representation on them, still got the "message" out despite any white pressure [I think there's overwhelming evidence those shows would have been even better if there were no white constraints] but I can still watch episodes and laugh or agree with most of them even though it's been 20-30 years since they last aired. It also seems like those who were good or great writers moved on to being producers, writing for white sitcoms, or just got out the business period. So I would agree a little with option (b) but still place blame on trying to get high ratings by any (desperate) means necessary rather than actually be funny.

  • CareyCarey | November 5, 2012 4:04 AM

    JMac, you're mistaken. First she DID NOT say that is WHY the current one's suck. Read her post again to see the gist of her comment. You're also mistaken in that the series The Good Times, The Jeffersons and Sanford & Son, those CLASSICS were written by white men. Now, I do not believe her words said anything to the order of "shows we look up to". So what exactly are you arguing? The biggest issue is the lack of opportunity in today's racially sensitive world, which, as her options pointed out, equals less experience. Now if I'm a white man in power, what would be my motivation to risk the scrutiny of developing black characters in today's environment? First, safe money says don't do it and more importantly, I don't have to. Hell, the "burden of representation" issue was the final straw for Good Times. Folks were complaining about JJ's character, as a result, Esther Rolle as Florida Evans and John Amos the father were "let go" b/c of disagreements related to that issue. So again we're back to less jobs and less opportunity to hone one's skills. And you're really missing the point when you use Tyler Perry in a negative connotation. Listen, in 2003, before Tyler hit TV he did a play "The Marriage Counselor". As usual, at the end he came out to talk to the crowd. He said many have been asking him when he was going to appear on TV. He said he told those folks in Hollywood that before he allows "others" to take his products without taking his "family" of actors, writers and crew, there would not be a Tyler production on tv. So here we are damn near 10 years later and Tyler has employed more black folks (i.e., actors, writers, technical crew, singers, musician, etc) than any person on this earth! And by the way, he has a huge viewership. So Jmac, I fail to see the point of your argument?

  • Nadine | November 4, 2012 9:57 AMReply

    Not to get too deep into this convo - Modern "Black" comedy, as a whole, seems to have writers that believe comedy must always be at the expense of the dignity of others. "Oooh he/she ugly!" (laugh track), "Look at his pants, he's a hot mess!" (laugh track), "Ain't she on crack?" (laugh track), "Chile, your breath stink" (laugh track) plus some overbearing unlikeable female and some kind of embarrassingly delusional older man and many other tropes we place upon our own heads. This manifestation of self-hatred/unkindness is not exactly "feel good TV"; it is a crutch where good writing is not even an after thought. Nothing is smart, anymore. It's like their writers never read or developed their understanding of mankind. These shows are most often unbelievable situations, with unbelievably annoying, mean and over-bearing people. People whom you would not want be around in real life, so why would you want to watch them on TV?

  • ALM | November 10, 2012 6:11 PM

    @ Nadine: Great points about the "your momma"/slam type of comedy that writers fall back on when they lack good material.

  • CareyCarey | November 5, 2012 7:37 PM

    " Again, the comedies are filled with, "People whom you would not want be around in real life, so why would you want to watch them on TV?" Nadine, although I agree with much of what you've written, that comment might be our biggest divide. Well, actually, I have two areas in which we differ. First, I believe what you may be failing to accept or understand is "we" are around those people and they are real. That's why many can relate to them and enjoy their antics. They remind us of someone we know, and in many cases, those individuals are a reflection of our own life. Those images may be stereotypes per-se, and thus many wish they would go away, but they are walking among us. That reminds me, Kevin Hart's hugely successful stand-up movie said it all "Laugh At My Pain". He gave us an insight into his life that was FILLED with stereotypical, yet true images of his family (wife, father, girlfriends, mother, children, buddies). Again, we laughed because we could relate to his hardships. So Nadine, hopefully that answers your question of "People whom you would not want be around in real life, so why would you want to watch them on TV?". Now, in reference to your opinion of present day writers, and what you believe is at the root of their "inadequacies", I do believe a person's lack of exposure or experience, does limit their "wisdom" on life's issues (maturity). However, that also speaks to what I've been saying all along. The more they're given the opportunity to write a variety of characters, dialog and genres, the more efficient they'll become at their craft. Having said that, I do not share your opinion that their writing is a reflection of... well... I vehemently disagree with this-->"yet their very clear, JADED and limited views are imposed on their viewers. These writers PRETEND to know what certain lifestyles are really about (no research) and insert their preferred tropes ( BASED ON THEIR SKEWED ISSUES WITH SELF WORTH). Now Nadine, you have in essence implied that if a writer lives longer, and thus experiences more of what life has to offer, that would automatically translate to them being better writers, even if they are not being given the opportunity to write on a continual bases, not to mention in different genres. Surely you can see how that's a flawed conjecture? Questions to ponder: Is their ( those jaded with low self-worth) self-worth going to change (in a positive direction) with time? Does not PRACTICE make PERFECT? Do the majority of humans really change for the better - over time? Nadine, in short, I believe you have unfairly used your own self-image, likes and dislikes as a model to make a judgement call against our present writers, which obviously may differ from yours. Then, unjustly put them in a box.

  • Nadine | November 5, 2012 7:21 AM

    @CAREYCAREY - Up all night, so I'm a little tired. This will be a choppy and disjointed response: I don't think my original post begs deeper analysis. A duck is a duck and what Present-day Black-themed "comedies' are not good. Rationalizing the history behind "whatever", is not going to suddenly make this tripe bearable (although the sociology behind this mess warrants investigation). There is a difference between a hunger for these types of comedies and the satisfying of a hunger for people who want to see themselves reflected on TV or on the stage. We give them images that look like the audience, but they're not a variety of images where one could freely pick and choose what really speaks to them, a luxury for SOME in the mainstream (Roseanne was a big deal as that audience was not being served at the time). The ridiculously talented Omar Gooding needs a much better platform and deserves to be surrounded with actors of his caliber. Gooding's comedic skills are extremely advanced, but this "writing", "situation" does nothing for him. At no point did I reference "White comedy", which is somewhat varied, but has a common theme (which I won't touch upon - I don't have the strength). I'm comparing present-day "Black" so-called sitcoms to previous incarnations of Black situation comedies. You have people writing these shows who clearly have not had a lot of exposure or experiences, yet their very clear, jaded and limited views are imposed on their viewers. These writers pretend to know what certain lifestyles are really about (no research) and insert their preferred tropes (based on their skewed issues with self-worth) which would need serious writing skills to make 3-dimensional as those tropes, in themselves, are not comedy, but judgment and "put downs". There is no comedy, simply insults. Not smart. At all. Not even close to balanced. Although at times problematic, some of the most BRILLIANT comedians, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Bill Cosby, resorted to tropes, but brilliantly submerged them in depth and individuality (until recently - see Norbit, etc...), which then made the characters, no longer tropes, but... actual characters with their own spirits - no longer stereotypes. Think of what Murphy did with "Coming to America" and "Trading Places" alone. Bill Cosby's (Wesley's), "Let's do it Again" and "Uptown Saturday Night" (I'm not surprised Smith is having difficulty finding a writer as he has very high standards, is hands-on and does NOT play). The Rickey Smiley show is available on their website for you to watch, compare it to any Black sitcom of the 90s. I mean... I don't even understand what is going on with the production (sound?). I can't hear them and no one has comic timing. You responded to my orig. statement with a list of White shows. I would not consider Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey or Archie Bunker modern in the context of what we are covering. I was referring to present-day/current shows on TV, but imagine if all White comedies, today, were like Adam Sandler's horrible movies - that is the problem with these Black sitcoms. No variety and low-brow "humor", and honestly, the SMARTEST character I've seen in this present-day black "COMEDIC" world, not even sitcom, is Tyler Perry's, Madea, believe it or not. Madea is played by a Black man dressed up like a woman, which would typically be a major problem, but Perry has spent so much time fleshing out THE CHARACTER of Madea, that "she" is made human. "She" is complex; you know her "character"... what she stands for... the problem with Perry's work in general, though, is the the ancillary characters have less than zero depth and fall into the present-day trap of being written/created by jaded individuals, with unbalanced views and a questionable agenda. You also mentioned my mention of "unbelievable situations". The entire statement was "unbelievable situations WITH unbelievably annoying, mean and over-bearing people". The second part was most important. Again, the comedies are filled with, "People whom you would not want be around in real life, so why would you want to watch them on TV?"... I know I don't. Martin is the closest thing to that genre that worked, but that show was just one of variety of Black sitcom types, and Martin Lawrence had "it". The meanness flung about in these scripts, is a reflection of some of the real life dysfunction, unhealthy byproducts, of the oppressive experiences of the Black community in the United States. Should one celebrate and make that behavior the norm or transcend it? It took me four hours to write this. I hope this made sense as I am too tired to continue... oh, the mankind thing... the writers are too invested in their own images and benefits to have empathy for other types of people hence their inability to write fully flesh-out characters. They never leave their personal agendas at the door. One group is always right another group, always wrong... etc... I'm done. This mess probably doesn't even require a reply, Carey. Too tired too proof...

  • CareyCarey | November 5, 2012 12:16 AM

    Nadine, your entire comment begs for a "deeper" analysis. "Modern black comedy" is different than "white" comedy, really? Adam Sadler, Jim Carry, That's My Boy, Dumb & Dumber, Archie Dunker, My Name Is Earl, etc. And how can ANY comedy be a manifestation of self-hatred? And which show(s) depicts "unbelievable situations"? I thought we're talking comedy and art? Furthermore... "Their writers have not developed their understanding of mankind??? I don't see the relationship.

  • CareyCarey | November 3, 2012 11:05 PMReply

    THE SILENT KILLER, Ms. Gigi Young! @ Gigi, it goes without question that all of us come to this blog for a myriad of reasons. When I see the name (in the side column) of a writer; commentator, staff, visitor or whomever, that I've found "pleasure" - in the past - from "listening" to them, I'm all over it. Regardless of the "topic", they get my full attention. You, Ms. Gigi - have become one of them. Listen, I even go as far as to copy and paste their words in a little folder I've titled "Stolen Jokes, Lines, Thoughts/Insight". Presently there are about 20 "members" in the exclusive club (exclusive by my standards anyway :-) which includes the words and thoughts of Mr. Adam "Coon Hunter" Thompson, Sergio, Charles Judson, Nadia, Akimbo, Bondgirl, Mark & Darla, Lauren, Jug, Misha, Nadine, Urbanauteur, Blutopaz, Accidental V, Tambay, Curtis John and "Anonymous". That reminds me, I've assigned each member a nickname, hence, "The Silent Killer", aka Gigi Young. I'll get back to that. Also, I didn't list a couple of names b/c I had reservations on whether or not they'd... you know... have any desire to be associated with my stankin' club of critical thinkers of the S&A talk-back forum. *lol* Now, although Gigi doesn't post as often as others, and she's not as "loud" nor abrasive as many on my list, her comments are always very poignant and unapologetic. Case in point, her words--> "I watch a lot of old movies... I started to pay attention to how the black actors were portrayed, as well as how black characters--when they were given their own storylines--were as well. It's not simply the Mammy stuff we tend to think of. Though Hollywood did keep those old minstrel show stereotypes alive, the disappearance of black actors from Hollywood films after the '50s due to the Civil Rights movement is UNSETTLING to see. So it was/is a double-edged sword for black actors." And in Gigi's last comment (below) she basically said because of the "push-back" from the black community when race or the actor's skin color becomes an issue, and the subsequent positions the power players find themselves in, black writers and actors are receiving less of an opportunity to hone their skills. And thus, less opportunity equals less experience, which culminates to an inferior product (i.e. poorly-written, badly acted, less talented, corny, lacks imagination, lacks originality, lacks depth, ete-etc-etc). Yes sir, the short yet effective "The Silent Killer" has spoken... loud and clear.

  • CareyCarey | November 5, 2012 9:25 PM

    Curtis, I am dead serious. Think about it. We spend countless - HUNDREDS - of hours debating, scrutinizing, picking and poking at the writing of others in "our" sitcoms and movies. So within that group of writers (above) we have a perfect foundation for a team of diverse writers to walk the talk. Listen, we don't have to like one another, nor agree with the "politics" of the other(s). Hell, we don't even have to be in each other's company, but I can't help but believe that with that talented and diverse group, something very good/ "possitive"/ new/ original and imaginative will come to fruition. I know it's not a traditional route, but change - in this case - is a damn good thang. "But Carey, how can we do this as a group?". That easy... through e-mails. We all sign on (exchanging e-mails) and then we come to a consensus of the direction we will take (i.e. genre, characters, mission, sitcom/movie, etc.) All of us will get a copy of a starting e-mail, which would outline the direction we'll take. It should include proposals and suggestions, that each of us will be required to add their own insight/opinion. After such, we kick it around like any other writing staff. Hey, this can be very fun, exciting and successful. Think about it... look at the instant feedback/critique we'd receive in all areas of developement, (i.e. storyline, character(s), dialog, intended audience) Heck, I can even envision "characters" being based on the persona's of some of the writers in our group. For instance, if we were going to write a comedy ( I think it might be wise to write 2 scripts (2 different genres) at the same time) could you see a character based on Sergio's "persona"? He could be the oldest of a group of friends living in an apartment complex. The hook would be his penchant of introducing the other friends to movies that nobody has heard of - and don't really want to see - yet they sometimes watch them with him or find ways to politely excuse themselves ( I see some funnies in that storyline). For instance, one time he drops by with a personal friend. As usual, the others asks him what movie he has in his bag? He evades the question. Then when his back is turned, someone reaches in the bag and pulls out what appears to be an X-Rated movie. He hugs his companion as they, his old butt and his chick shashay out the door with devilish looks on their face. He looks over his should and give a sly wink. Those are just a suggestion, of course, but I hope you get my drift? Each person could suggest their own "character", story-line, etc. The direction is limitless. Anyway, can this work?

  • Curtis Caesar John | November 5, 2012 8:34 AM

    I hope so!

  • CareyCarey | November 4, 2012 2:41 AM

    I agree Adam. And other than you, I don't think any of them are filmmakers. However, with that group I believe we could come up with a pretty nice script. Then we could answer Curtis's question of whatever happened to the black sitcom? Our reply: "Over here, we got one!"

  • Adam Scott Thompson | November 4, 2012 12:36 AM

    Good company!

  • Alleycat | November 3, 2012 8:42 PMReply

    We'll see how BET does with Being Mary Jane, The Start Up, Young Man on Campus, What Would Dylan do and their other attempts at original programming. Fingers crossed I'll like something. And Singles Ladies may be subpar, but it's the only "black" show I've watched weekly in the last two years, that's saying something.

  • Gigi Young | November 2, 2012 11:46 PMReply

    shows starring and created by Black talent

    I always have a small ironic and bitter laugh when I see so many lament over the lack of black sitcoms because a large majority of those we consider to be ~classics~ were produced, created, directed, and/or written by white TV execs. :/ And then when I look at the sitcoms produced, created, directed, and/or written by black TV execs, and the general consensus from black viewers is that they are corny, poorly-written, badly acted, etc etc, the uncomfortable questions then raised are: a) black people in TV are ~less~ talented? b) black people in TV ~less~ talented because they aren't given the opportunity to grow in their skills like their white counterparts? or c) black people in TV so caught up in the burdens of being a black writer/producer/director/creator (aka authenticity/being down +~positive~ images, which, to be fair, are regularly placed on black entertainment creators by white execs and black audiences) that they cannibalize their great talent? Because when you look at something like Awkward Black Girl, which stepped completely out of the "black TV" box of the last ten years, I can't help but think it's option (c), though option (b) may also be an answer as well.

  • Curtis Caesar John | November 5, 2012 8:49 AM

    Nice breakdown Gigi. Love your insight as always (in here and various postings). If you take a look I did make sure to list, accurately (from my perspective), classic sitcoms that the barometer should be held up to that starred and were written, produced and directed (or Executive Produced) by Black talent - the exception, a show I somewhat dissed (see Cherish's comment below) being The Jeffersons, and I would add 227 to that latter list. I agree with you on many of those so-called classics, but do we know for 100% that there were no Black writers on these staffs. I suppose the point is that the shows were not led by a Black EP or Producer for the length of their classic runs - Good Times is the best example of that with Eric Monte and Mike Evans being given the brush off early on. I think someone (maybe me?!?) should do a book about Eric Monte. So yes, I'd agree that it is a dash of B and a cup of C blended & juiced hard using a VitaMix.

  • Cherish | November 2, 2012 6:41 PMReply

    Now why did you have to diss The Jeffersons? It was only the longest running Black sitcom - and its funny as hell. I'll watch reruns of Jeffersons all day over 90 percent of what's on broadcast TV. And it's funny as hell - actual laugh out loud show. Jeez. Yeah, I said funny as hell twice. I meant it too. LOL.

  • ALM | November 10, 2012 6:08 PM

    @ Cherish: Yes. This may be the first time I've heard someone African American complain about "The Jeffersons". It's an iconic show for a myriad of reasons.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | November 2, 2012 9:28 PM


  • Adam Scott Thompson | November 2, 2012 5:33 PMReply

    Heard some good things about "Are We There Yet?" on TBS. Thinking about checking that out.

  • The Carcass | February 1, 2013 5:06 AM

    I really like sitcoms
    and Are We There Yet is one of my favorites
    and also Reed Between The Lines

    some others are also good like
    Love That Girl
    Lets Stay Together

    but they all stopped , why ?????

    no there is only one lame sitcom on it
    from tyler perry
    why did he stop the best there was : HOUSE OF PAYNE

    what black sitcoms always have (mostly then ) : Life Lessons and i think we had enough of that , just make people laugh :D

  • Curtis Caesar John | November 5, 2012 8:51 AM

    I forgot to mention them but "Are We There Yet?" is one of the sitcoms I'll be looking at in the 2nd edition of this topic. I will say compared to many others, its good. Thanks for bringing it up Adam. And thank you for your comments.

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