Posted on February 25, 2016

#BHM: 10 Classic Black TV Shows You Probably Forgot About

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Before our TVs were littered with reality shows, zombies and dancing children with crazy mothers (that has to be against child labor laws, right?), sitcoms dominated the TV guide. Everyone had a favorite, and as time went on we saw more and more shows go against Black stereotypes. We were no longer struggling and keeping our heads above water, we had actual occupations. From standout students to doctors and everything in between, Black television shows gave African American characters a chance to battle stereotypes and entertain thousands while doing so. Here’s a list of our favorite shows you may have forgotten:

Sister, Sister (1994-1999)

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The show focused on the odd adventures of two young, long-lost African American twins (played by Tia and Tamera Mowry) that found each other in a shopping mall. The show’s comical twist of adopted twins raised by adopted parents (played by Jackée Harry and Tim Reid) who eventually ~fall in love~ attracted an undeniably diverse audience. The show focused on teenage adolescence, relationships and a nosy neighbor (remember Roger?). After two successful seasons on ABC, “Sister, Sister” was cancelled, but the WB scooped it up for a third season, even the twins’ younger brother Tahj Mowry appeared in one episode as T.J. Henderson while simultaneously starring in his own sitcom, “Smart Guy.” The show was undeniably a catalyst for both Tia and Tamera’s careers and an important aspect of Black television in the 90s. (photo via seventeen.com)

106 & Park (2000-2014)

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This iconic music video countdown show had everyone running straight home after school. “106 & Park” captivated us for an entire generation by being one of the first shows to have exclusive music videos, down to earth interviews and special visits from all of our favorite music artists. The show also maintained a serious, conscious aspect by always including awareness of diseases, breaking news and trending topics in the world during the time it aired. Outlasting any other countdown show in existence, “106 & Park” played a key role with keeping us informed and helping us jam out while doing so. Besides, who didn’t love AJ & Free? (photo via bet.com)

Girlfriends (2000-2008)

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After the cancellation of “Living Single”, many black women were left without a show they could truly relate to. In 2000, Tracee Ellis Ross along with supporting actresses Golden Brookes, Persia White and Jill Maria Jones starred in a new women-centric sitcom, “Girlfriends.” This show was truly the first show that debuted educated, beautiful African-American women who eat sushi and had mixed relationships. Lynn (played by Persia White) was an important series character. She reflected a free-spirited woman, which was not a character we, as Black women, were used to seeing. “Girlfriends” also handled topics such as sexuality, parenthood and dating, demonstrating that the show’s writers made it a point to stay mindful of the current events taking place with women. (photo via nytimes.com)

Martin (1992-1997)

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In the 90s, few shows could match the sheer brilliance and comedy that the “Martin” cast displayed. The show was as satirical as it was serious, focusing on relationships, work and sometimes the messy neighbor who needed to get told off once in awhile. Stacked with a hilarious cast, stellar cameos and a loyal following, “Martin” is still a popular show almost two decades after its finale. It’s safe to say that everyone has a Pam or a Martin in their life that they can joke around with, even if their big ears (or edges) come into the conversation. (photo via fanart.tv)

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)

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In 1990, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air made his debut as the cool kid from Philly. After Will Smith made his name in the rap game through Grammy wins and other musical nominations, Smith decided to make his mark in the television world. The Fresh Prince was the perfect combination of both aspects of Smith’s celebrity life. The humor of Will as a kid from south Philly “dropped off” at a Bel-Air mansion provided the world with a unique humor tactic. The theme song was unquestionably a worldwide anthem that is still recognized today, making the show one of the better television series of all time. (photo via wegotthiscovered.com)

Chappelle’s Show (2003-2006)

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In the early 2000s, Dave Chappelle bust into the comedy scene with a sense or humor that was truly unique. Complete with original and eclectic sketches, the show focused on different scenarios based on whatever Chappelle could think of that week, including traveling through time to insult slave masters to playing basketball with Prince. It was all as funny as it sounded. (photo via comedyhype.com)

The Proud Family (2001-2005)

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“The Proud Family” was one of Disney’s only Black-centric shows. It focused heavily on the stereotypes of the extended Black family with the melodramatic grandmother, frugal father and hard-working mother. The humor was definitely one more African Americans could relate to. With participation from Destiny’s Child, who at that time was one of the biggest selling girl groups of all time, providing the super-catchy theme song, the show was a sure-fire success. (photo via theproudfamily.wikia.com)

That’s So Raven (2003-2007)

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Before “Hannah Montana” completely took over Disney, the show to watch on a regular basis had to be “That’s So Raven.” Following the life of Raven Baxter and her best friends, the show focused on typical high school drama like bullies and bad school lunches, to serious topics like body shaming and racial discrimination. Her psychic power of clairvoyance proved to be a curse most of the time, yet the show remained light-hearted and a standout series in the early to mid-2000s. (photo via hollywoodlife.com)

One on One (2001-2006)

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“One on One” focused on the positive portrayal of a protective Black father actively working to be a part of his kid’s life. The series starred Flex Alexander as a successful sportscaster who suddenly becomes a full-time father when his ex-wife decides to accept a job out of the country, leading his teenage daughter Brianna (Kyla Pratt) to move in with him. The writers of the show took the series down a unique path when they displayed a rare and honest image of a single Black father trying to take care of his teenage adolescent child. The show was impressionable on not only young black girls, but also to single fathers. (photo via bet.com)

The Boondocks (2004-Present)the_boondocks

Completely underrated and always brash, “The Boondocks” follows Huey, Riley and their grandfather as they try to normally live in an upperclass and predominantly White neighborhood. Focusing almost exclusively on stereotypes and bad language, the show captures the hearts and minds of many by bringing current issues to light in the most humorous way possible. While not exactly for the faint of heart, “The Boondocks” showed problems and situations that could be laughed at for their authenticity. (photo via saintheron.com)

As societal norms progress, television will continue to evolve and we’ll continue to see more shows reflect our lives. Watching these shows now, considering how legendary a lot of them were (and still are), is like looking into the past and being able to see how we’ve changed as a whole. How’s that for a #tbt?

Comment below with your favorite show from way back when if you don’t see it on the list!

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