Five 90s Sitcoms All Black Girls Should Watch

Like most black girls, I grew up seeing very little of myself on television. Women of color tended to be the outgoing best-friend, the stereotypical round and friendly neighbour, the sidekick, etc. These characters never had any agency other than being the “other”. It did not sit well with me. After overdosing on the same narrative, I decided to seek refuge in all-black cast television shows and it changed my life. The shows listed here have complex characters where black women are not a copy-pasted version of the same archetypes. I found solace in them. I recognized myself, my girlfriends, my mother, my sister and all my long-lost queens. In these series, the black girl is not the other, she simply is.

Living Single

The show is set in Brooklyn in the nineties and follows the lives of six friends and roommates as they navigate important shifts in their relationships, careers and personal growth. Living Single displays the importance of black female camaraderie at every stage of our lives. The four female characters (Maxine, Khadija, Regine and Synclaire) have different dating approaches, different goals and aspirations in life and the various seasons explore how these points change as they grow and become the women they want to be.  

Girlfriends

As discussed in a previous article, Girlfriends is a pure gem when it comes to relationship wisdom. The show focuses on the life of four women (Joan, Toni, Maya and Lynn), but it also introduces many secondary female characters to explore different dating dynamics that are not represented through the main characters’ storyline. Although the four women have a great friendship, the show approaches the different conflicts and complications that friendships may endure: mental health, religious differences, financial struggles and so on. All in all, it does a good job at depicting long-term friendships transparently and educationally

A Different World

The show is set in the late eighties and early nighties and focuses on the lives of college students in a fictitious HBCU called Hillman University.  What is most precious about this show is the diversity of background within the cast: although all the women and men are black, they have different stories, different struggles, different passions and interests. A different world helped expand black identity by showing how diverse we were within our race. Although the show was very light-hearted, it showcased real-life dilemmas like finding a job after graduation, escaping an abusive relationship, handling police brutality and racial profiling, and so on.

Martin

Martin ran from 1992 and 1997 and gave us the funniest African-American on-screen romance. The relationship between Gina and Martin became goals for everyone who viewed the show. With the dichotomy of their background, the show explored class, gender and race altogether. The friendship between Gina and Pamela is my favourite part of the show. Often, a lot of shows enjoy deconstructing female friendship and add jealousy and unhealthy competition to the mix, but not Martin. Gina and Pamela were partners and worked with each other very well. They were respectful of each other’s lane and showed true happiness for each other’s successes. Plus, their outfits were way ahead of their time!

Moesha

Although Moesha is more of a teen sitcom, it is still filled with wisdom and truths we can apply in our young adults’ lives. Moesha is a high-school student juggling her active social life and her household responsibilities all while still trying to maintain and find who she is. At home, she is learning to accept her parents’ separation and the presence of a new woman in her father’s life. In her dating life, she is often torn between the comfort of a steady relationship and the excitement of a passionate rollercoaster lover. Through her adventures, we learn about what is like to find our voice despite external expectations.