Over my school’s fall break, I finally finished watching all eight seasons of Mara Brock Akil’s popular series, Girlfriends, on Netflix. I loved every single dynamic of the show – from the excellent acting to the important but relevant topics it addressed. Although it first aired twenty years ago, I think Girlfriends is still a great series for young adult women, especially black women.
Here are some of my highlights for the series:
Favorite Character: Maya Wilkes. Golden Brooks did a PHENOMENAL job with this role. One thing that I really liked about Maya was that she never changed for anyone. Maya stood to who she was and quickly people in their place if they tried to make her someone she wasn’t – even if it was her close friends. While I was watching the series, I feel like I identified with Maya the most. While I may be more reserved than her, her love and sacrifice for family and determination can relate. Plus, her sassiness and her signature catchphrase: “Oh hell no!” always provided the best comic relief. Maya was truly one-of-a-kind.
Favorite Episode: “The Fact Track & the Furious.” This episode made me emotional, as it talked about the effect HIV and AIDS have on black women. Before this episode, Lynn Searcy (Persia White) finds out that a former roommate of one of her best friends, Joan Clayton (Tracee Ellis Ross), contracted AIDS from her husband. After discovering this, she decides to focus on the documentary she’s working on black women and the HIV/AIDS disease. At the opening scene of the episode, Lynn (Persia White) films Ressie Jackson (Kimberly Elise), the former roommate. Ressie, in tears, describes some of her trials she’s had to go through, which then causes Lynn to silently cry behind the camera. After Ressie finishes speaking, the two embrace in an emotional, tearful hug – which then made my eyes tear up. Know I probably know what you’re thinking – why is an episode about AIDS my favorite episode in the entire series? This is because this episode brought back so much awareness to me. As a black woman, I realize that I am unfortunately at a higher risk for some diseases. This episode also helped me realize how important community is. People who have diseases like HIV and AIDS should not be alone in their fight. Just as Ressie had the support of her family and her friends, we should be doing the same for someone else.
Favorite Season: My favorite season is season three, which aired from late 2002 to mid-2003. If I had to pick only one season to watch for the rest of my life in Girlfriends, it would definitely be season three. In my opinion, this season had one of the best overall plots, and it had some of the major events in the series. One of those events was Toni Childs (Jill Marie Jones) getting married. In the episodes leading up to the wedding, Joan becomes jealous of Toni because she is the first one to get married out of the four friends. However, Joan keeps denying her jealously – until it’s too late, resulting in a strain in their friendship. Season three will definitely keep you up on your toes, but it will still keep you laughing – so if you decide to binge-watch the series – definitely get ready for season three!
I didn’t have a lot of dislikes about the series, but here are some things that I wasn’t too fond of:
Joan’s Attitude: As her own friends described her, Joan is a “classist and egregious person,” which she was – no matter how many times she tried to deny it. In one of the season one episodes, Maya asks Joan to help plan a vow renewal ceremony for her and her husband. However, Joan begins to change things to fit her look because she believes Maya’s ideas are “ghetto” and are not the ideal wedding standard. Of course, Joan’s classist ideas get her into trouble, and then she gets ousted from the ceremony by Maya. Throughout the series, Joan doesn’t seem to learn her lesson – as she continues to make the same mistakes.
Joan and Toni’s Friendship: Their friendship was perhaps the most confusing thing in the entire series to me. One of them tries to sleep with another’s boyfriend, and they still called each other friends. One of them ruins another’s relationship with a potential husband, and they still called each other friends. And when it finally came down to it – one of them was not there for the other when they really needed it – which then ends their friendship forever. My thing is, with the amount of backstabbing that went on with Joan and Toni, their friendship should have been over in the early stages of the series. I also believe that this type of friendship was unhealthy on both sides. Even though they had been friends from a very young age, the things they did to each other in their thirties showed that maybe it was time for them to let go and move on.
I loved watching all of Girlfriends, and I will definitely re-watch it again! I hope that once the filming industry is back in business, they will consider producing more shows like Girlfriends. It’s important to see representation among POCs, especially in this day and time when the world is becoming more aware of the social injustices going on. Watching Girlfriends made me so happy, and I hope it makes you all want to watch the show as well!