Quarantine Post #38: Netflix’s Black TV Shows

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Thanks to Netflix, I have been able to watch some of the black shows that I had not watched as a kid. There was a time that I wasn’t as into watching tv and now that I am older I am going to say that I totally missed out. Being at home since March 2020 has made it easier to catch up on all my shows. There were a few shows that I was looking forward to seeing… and I was not disappointed… there were shows that I rewatched and was so what disappointed. Younger me had a lot to answer for. But enough of that. We are going to jump into the few shows that I have watched, I am going to drop my thoughts and feelings on them. So hang on to your butts.

Moesha – So I started with Moesha because I was so sure that I would love it as much as I did as an early teen. Problem was… I didn’t. As I have said before, that could be because I have left my teenage years behind. There were still some episodes that I loved just as much as I did as a kid. Moesha is a sitcom that aired on UPN from January 23, 1996, to May 14, 2001. Moesha Mitchell is a high school student living with her family in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. I get that it is a coming of age story. I used to think that Moesha was the one to be… she was the main character. Older me found her to be pushy and judgmental. (Like her way was the only right way.) But older me thinks that was part of her journey… getting told about herself. One scene stands out in my mind… Where she confronts Hakeem’s mother on his behalf. Who talks to someone’s parents (your friends parents) with the disrespect that she did? The fat jokes about Kim weren’t entertaining to me. I don’t remember there being as many as their were. I wasn’t sold on the friendship after that. Even in college, Moesha learned some life lessons about working and paying bills. One thing that didn’t change was my level of dissatisfaction with Frank. Out of all the black tv fathers… he ranks last on my list. I didn’t appreciate him calling Moesha a hoe… his iron fist because he is uncomfortable with the fact that she was dating… being a teenage girl is hard. But Moesha was bright, a straight A student, and I felt as though… when push came to shove she would make the right the decisions.

I just didn’t understand where his beef came from… plenty of girl dads were on tv making things work without being belittling to their wife and child and calling it parenting… or calling himself the man of the house. I love Dee… and she worked hard to forge a relationship with Frank’s two children. Every chance Frank got he seemed to try to demean her in from of his children. “Do this…. NOW…” He had lost his mind. He also undermined her every time she tried to discipline them. He turned his nose up a Q no matter what the topic was about… calling him a thug… but had the nerve to be shocked when he learned that Dee’s father didn’t like him. I will not even mention the whole child he had on the side that he didn’t mention to anyone. I was stuck trying to figure out how Frank became so uppity. Q doesn’t want to go to college… (which many people are taking different routes nowadays.) Frank went to college… and he is a car salesman… A Saturn salesman… Where in the hell did he get the idea that begging people to buy a car made him better than anyone else? I also was not a fan of him volunteering Moesha to go to the prom with his friend’s son. I have also never been to a friends house where the parents are openly hostile like Frank is to Hakeem. Frank loved to throw jabs at Hakeem (whose mom he knows is struggling…) because he was a moocher… Really the boy was struggling. Would I feed friends in need….? Of course… no problem. He was controlling and misogynistic.

Hakeem and Andell seemed to be a bright spot in the show. They gave advice that actually made sense. My favorite had to be when Hakeem told Moesha about herself… when she was mad that Kim made the cheerleading squad and not her. Something about only being able to be friends with someone you feel you are better than. I also remember the episode where she told that Hakeem’s cousin was gay… (High school drama sure…) and it was all over the school. Andel was there as an older person trying to bridge the gap in changing times between teens and parents. Kim was a funny character and you could tell the change after season 4 when she left the show. Niecy got some laughs… but not like Kim did.

I did realize why I love the show so much as a teen. Moesha had a lot of good looking guys she was interested in and who was interested in her. I did enjoy her adventures in dating and learning about herself. Q was at least entertaining, stirring up drama at the table. Jeremy (Usher) was cool too. I was too entertained about the constant jokes about him. For the most part, it just didn’t hold up for me after about 20 years. Frank was about as insufferable as I remember him to be. Overall 2 out 5.

One on One – This show was/is hilarious. And I am not sure what I was doing in high school when this was originally aired but I only remember a few episodes. I was pleasantly surprised. The series stars Flex Alexander as a single sportscaster, who becomes a full-time father when his ex-wife decides to accept a job out of the country (Nova Scotia) and his teenage daughter Breanna (Kyla Pratt) moves in with him. The series was set in Baltimore for the first four seasons before changing settings to Los Angeles for the final season. Flex ends up having to fall back on his communications degree when he blows out his knees in an NBA game. He becomes a sportscaster and his daughter comes to visit two weeks out of the year. When Breanna moves in with him… they have to learn about each other and learn to balance. For Flex, it is having to learn to parent and not just be Breanna’s friend… but he managed to pull it off… a lot better than Frank. I loved how each episode ended with there being some sort of understanding between characters.

Flex and Breanna’s relationship was super cute. Flex is overprotective of Breanna but not in the overbearing controlling way. What is great is that we get to see the preaching that Flex and Nicole have done about sex and teen pregnancy is actually working. Flex’s best friend and Breanna’s godfather, Duane Odell Knox, is a used-car salesman who lives across the hall from Flex and Breanna and is a constant presence in their lives for better or worse. Duane is onto Breanna unlike Flex who thinks his daughter is an angel. Unlike Flex, Duane is not a smooth operator. But he is hilarious and fun to watch. In the beginning for Flex, he was used to being a bachelor and living alone… so with Breanna being there… It wasn’t easy meeting and dating women like he used to. Fun times. Breanna and Flex take an oath to swear of dating… (hilarity ensues.) I could not stop laughing at this show.

The Original Girl dad…

The Breanna/Arnaz will they or won’t thing… got super annoying. But I am super sure young me ate this up. Keep in mind that it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t realistic. Breanna flip flopping back and forth, and stringing Arnaz along got old. Spirit was a great friend to Breanna… well both Breanna and Arnaz. I will say that it was accurate depiction of the dumb stuff teens do to get attention. They lost me in the fifth season. They changed EVERYTHING that made the show great. (Which is usually the case in the final season.) They added Ray J and Brandy… (which I really didn’t understand and even though Flex dropped by occasionally… it wasn’t enough to save the show. Lots of people blamed cancellation on the final season. Overall still great. 4 out of 5. SN: The show had a spin-off series Cuts, which follows Flex’s little brother Kevin Barnes running the local barbershop/day spa with a spoiled brat named Tiffany Sherwood after her father Jack Sherwood purchased the shop. The show lasted for only two seasons and was also canceled when UPN and The WB merged to form The CW.

The Parkers – The show is a spin-off of  MoeshaThe Parkers features the mother-daughter team of Nikki (played by Mo’Nique) and Kim Parker (played by Countess Vaughn). We got a taste of what the show was going to be about in the 4th season of Moesha. The story centers around Nikki Parker going back to school and getting admitted to Santa Monica College at the same time as her daughter Kim. Nikki had to dropout after she got pregnant with Kim. I can’t imagine who else could have played Nikki than Mo’Nique. Her character was just as funny as Kim’s character. And made the show much more fun to watch.

Enter Professor Oglevee… who Mo’nique is taken with in the first season… and that starts off innocently enough. It seems like he could see himself digging her too… (But as her professor it wouldn’t look good.) Although as time went on.. her behavior got worse and worse. I mean who has that many keys made, logs into someone else’s email, and tries to take out loans in someone’s name because you have stolen his SSN? The love triangle that started out in the first two seasons seemed funny enough but that devolved for me quickly. CAN YOU SAY HARASSMENT? I can. I would say if the roles were reversed there would be several articles on how this behavior is toxic. But I would also like to point out, it is not just toxicity on her part. (Although, the majority of it comes from Nikki.) There is a point where Nikki becomes involved with someone else and the Professor is hellbent on winning her over. You would think he would be glad to get rid of her. (Brian Mcknight is a nice touch though.)

He just wanted her to calm down a bit….

I did appreciate that Nikki’s friends didn’t give into her delusions. The running gag of people constantly telling her that she was not with the Professor never got old. When Nikki moves the professor in and he decides to boss her around and treat her shitty…. I figured she would throw him out of a window. I almost lost it when she said… she texturized his hair in his sleep.

Nikki and Kim had to figure out how to navigate the changes in their relationship. Kim is no longer a child and Nikki has more going on in her life than just being Kim’s mom. We get to meet Kim’s dad and there is a spotlight shown on co-parenting. This was another show that I found myself wondering why I hadn’t watched when it was originally aired. Stevie and T were great additions to the show… and actually had an entertaining music group. Overall I would say 4 out of 5.

Girlfriends – My second favorite show about Black Friends… after Living Single. 4 women leads. I was here for it. Joan, Toni, Maya and Lynn provided me with plenty of laughs… although Joan wore on my nerves before long. The show highlighted the struggles that woman have in dating… (Joan and Toni being professional women who still had trouble meeting the right one.) Lynn… who had a hard time holding down a job. It is easy to go to school and be great at that. But what happens after that? Maya was strong willed and pulling herself up by her bootstraps. Joan is the self appointed den mother of the group. The girls seem to show up to cry on Joan’s shoulder whenever things go wrong. The problem became that Joan thought she knew what was best for everyone and started telling everyone what to do.

It didn’t take long to see that Joan is a control freak. On the one hand, she had a problem with the girls just showing up unannounced to her house. But on the other hand, she wanted all events to be at her house. All parties, all gatherings… I couldn’t understand why she wanted to take on everything and then complain about no one helping her later. It came to my mind, when Maya bought her house… and Joan complained about her gatherings every chance she got. Maya was writing and trying to sell her book… which Joan didn’t seem to like or appreciate. (Maya was always seen as the ghetto one of the group.) I was not feeling her attitude about it. Brought back up the Moesha feelings about how she can only be friends if the status of her friends doesn’t change. I found that Toni was a better friend than Joan was. (Even though she could not get Maya’s child name right.) Toni had a lot of ups and downs and could be stuck up and superficial but when she got serious her advice was always on point. I loved to see it.

Speaking of Maya, she was emotionally cheating on her husband. All of her friends strongly disagreed with. I loved the fact that her friends tried to stop her from making a train wreck of her relationship. I was not feeling that she lied on Joan a lot to Darnell and then was surprised when he did not like Joan or the rest of the crew. Come on ma’am. But they managed to work out and get back together.

The girls relationship with William was fun. William being the main man on the show for a while. It seemed he and Joan worked together at a law firm as the only two black people. Maya being the temp secretary. William made funny jokes and always pointed out the male view in some of their problems. There was always a nice exchange when William was around. So that was fun. He gets involved with Monica… and that was an off and on thing that towards the end of the show… had grown on me in a way that I wasn’t sure was going to happen. But I was more interested than anyone in the show other than Joan by that point. I totally got why her and Toni fell out… Joan just became a character that I didn’t like anymore and couldn’t muster up any sadness for the silly things she continued to do. Anyways… I could watch it again. So 4 out of 5.

Half & Half – This was a show that I forgot about completely. I know it aired in the early 2000’s. But I really had no idea what it was about nor what to expect when I watched it. I was pleasantly surprised in the end.. and slightly annoyed that it was yet another victim of UPN becoming the CW. The show is left unfinished. So no fun at all but… Half & Half aired on UPN from September 23, 2002, to May 15, 2006. The show focuses on the lives of two paternal half-sisters in their twenties who were estranged throughout their childhood, and are finally developing a close relationship. Little Dee Dee moves into the building that he father owns to be closer to her older half sister Mona. Fun times ensues.

Part of the estrangement has to do with the way the two mothers act…. Hostility abounds. Mona feels that because her father decided to marry little Dee Dee’s mother… Big Dee Dee respectively… that Little Dee Dee got to have things that Mona didn’t, that Mona always had to go without. Shoutout to little Dee Dee for pushing the issue of getting to know her sister. I was sad to see that the parents (in the beginning) could not put aside their pointless bickering to help the sisters foster a real relationship. The fighting between the women gets better as the series moves on. But the sister’s become close in their own regard. Often turning to each other for advice on various topics. Dating being one of my favorites. Dee Dee and Mona face struggles in their work life and dating lives but handle it all with care and the family input. (Dee Dee’s dating the guy with the foot fetish was a lot.) There is some serious episodes… One with Spencer dating a woman that has HIV is really big… (That topic came up a bunch on black shows… )

Most of the conflict occurs from Mona’s inability to let go of her childhood and pay attention to the great things that happen to her. I get that she feels that her sister had an easier life. And that maybe true… but some things you should let go and move forward. The lessons in family were great even if Mona occasionally got on my nerves being a downer. I loved that the mothers despite their relationship with each other encouraged their daughters to get along. Dee Dee insists on helping Mona with her hang ups… and is serious about calling out her dad on his misguided attempts… one such time is when he gives her some flowers that she is allergic too. She feels that he father doesn’t know anything about her… (I could see that being true to a certain extent but there was also her not speaking up and allowing a person to get to know her.) Mona and her mother had serious boundary issues. And with her mother being a therapist… you would think that element wouldn’t be there as much.

I will say that I loved the wardrobe on the show. The women always looked great. Except for the fact that Mona had awful boots. I get that she was eclectic but those boots were as awful as everyone said. But I loved the show… every character was great in their own right… and Max and Kyle coming in for a cameo was much appreciated. Still annoyed that the show just ended.

So these are the shows that I have watched from the list that Netflix added. I plan on getting on that Sister Sister and Smart Guy (which is on Disney plus.) But in regards to those two shows…. I know they will be as great as I remember. I never missed Sister Sister as a kid. So that will be fun. So until next time…

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