For years, many have wondered how and where to stream some of the favorite classic Black sitcoms from the 1990s and early 2000s. Thankfully, Netflix is adding several of them to their online streaming platform to enjoy this fall! This is primarily due to the work of an executive team at Netflix called Strong Black Lead. Their goal is to bring more diverse options to the site in an attempt to provide space for and representation of Black stories and characters. The team has pushed Netflix to showcase more Black work since its conception, which resulted in movies like Love & Basketball (2000), B.A.P.S. (1997), Love Jones (1997), and The Brothers (2001) being added to the platform. Below is a list of some of the classic Black TV series that the Strong Black Lead team is bringing to Netflix this fall.
Sister Sister (1994)
Sister Sister is a television sitcom that aired in 1994 on ABC. Created by Kim Bass, Gary Gilbert, and Fred Shafferman, it stars twin sisters Tia and Tamera and their adopted parents Lisa and Ray. The show lasted six seasons until its finale in 1999. It was nominated for and won several NAACP Image Awards and Emmys throughout its run. Reruns of the show aired on the Disney Channel throughout the early 2000s, which led to Tia and Tameria Mowry eventually getting their own network original movie Twitches (2005). It was confirmed in early 2018 that a reboot of Sister Sister is in the works.
Moesha aired in 1996 as the debut television series for R&B legend Brandy Norwood. It was created by Ralph Farquhar, Sara V. Finney, and Vida Spears. The show centers around Moesha Mitchell as she navigates school, friends, and family life in Los Angeles. It was on air for six seasons and led to several spin-off shows, including The Parkers (1999) and Girlfriends (2000), all of which exist in the universe created by show writer Mara Brock Akil. In 1997, Brandy won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Youth Actress for her role as Moesha. The show helped to launch her acting career, and she went on to star in several other projects, including Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella in 1997.
Girlfriends is a television sitcom that premiered in 2000 on UPN (United Paramount Network). It was created by American screenwriter and television producer Mara Brock Akil, who previously worked as a writer and producer on television shows like The Jamie Foxx Show and Moesha. During its time, it was one of the highest-rated scripted shows on television. It centers around the main character, Joan Carol Clayton, Esq., and her best friends. The show eventually led to the spin-off series The Game, after an episode where Tia Mowry guest-starred as Joan’s cousin Melanie Barnett, an aspiring medical student. Many actors on the show were nominated for and won several NAACP Image Awards, including Tracee Ellis Ross for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, an award she went on to win again for her role as Rainbow in ABC’s Blackish (2014).
The Game (2006)
The Game is a drama-comedy series that premiered in 2006, created by Mara Brock Akil as a spin-off of the sitcom Girlfriends. The Game was one of the few shows that helped launch the CW network that same year. The show centers around Melanie Barnett, a medical student who follows her college boyfriend to San Diego as he follows his dream of becoming a professional football player. It had a very large fan base while on air, and after being canceled in 2009, it was successfully brought back on by BET (Black Entertainment Television) due to high demand from audiences. In 2011, the premiere of its fourth season was the most-watched television season premiere in cable history. The show went on for nine seasons and eventually ended in 2015. The Game has both been nominated for and won multiple NAACP Image Awards. Fourteen years after the series premiere, there are still rumors and anticipation surrounding a possible reboot.
Feature Image Credit: Netflix