I grew up with awesome black family shows like Good Times, The Jeffersons, The Cosby Show, and even to some extent, My Wife and Kids (well, I was grown, but didn’t have a family yet). Now that I have a child, where are the good black family shows?
No disrespect to Tyler Perry, but I just don’t find his “family” shows to be of the caliber of the black family shows of the 70s, 80s and early 90s. There seems to be something missing. I like Tyler Perry movies just fine (some of them, anyway), but his sitcoms just don’t have that element I’m looking for in my black family shows. Honestly, I don’t know what this missing element is – the x-factor. I just know that it isn’t there. Maybe it’s the relatability that’s missing for me? Or maybe it’s just the humor? I’m not sure.
I got the Evans family, the Jeffersons, the Willises (yes, they were a black family, too, or at least a black and white family), the Huxtables, the Kyles, and even the Drummonds (Different Strokes). Those shows and the families portrayed by those black family shows weren’t at all similar. The Evans family lived in the projects and had three teenage kids and, at one point, a mother and father, but at another a mother who was a widower. The Jeffersons were a wealthy couple with one grown son who no longer lived at home. The Willises were a similarly wealthy couple with one child (married to the Jeffersons’ one child) who no longer lived at home, but they were also a biracial family. The Huxtables were a family with two “very comfortable” working parents who had five children, all of whom eventually left the house, and eventually even one adopted grandchild. The Kyles were a similarly “very comfortable” family with three kids – two teenagers and one pre-tween. And lastly the Drummonds consisted of one wealthy white widower, his teenage daughter, and his two black, adopted sons.
All of these families were vastly different, yet there was something about each one of these shows that was vastly relatable. These were the kind of shows that every member of the family would get together to watch. My parents didn’t feel the need to have me leave the room or over-explain any situation on these shows, even when they tackled extremely sensitive and mature subjects. Maybe it’s just the nostalgia talking, but I think it’s because these shows had a certain level of maturity and seriousness – despite their overall comedic tone – that you just don’t see on most television shows these days. It is sad to me that these types of shows don’t exist anymore, because it means – unless and until people start making black family shows like they used to – that my daughter will never get to see any new shows that carry on this tradition of excellence. In the meantime, thank goodness for TV on DVDs!!