I have always been an avid watcher of television. I was raised on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Disney Channel and learned everything I needed to know from those three channels. All of which helped me become the stunning individual I am today. To this day, I still love watching television but I honestly have to ask, WHERE HAVE ALL THE BLACK SHOWS GONE?
Black television used to be a STAPLE of American television in the ’90s. The number of popular Black television programs is more than I can count on one hand. “Family Matters,” “Sister, Sister,” “Living Single,” “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Martin,” “A Different World,” “Moesha,” “Kenan and Kel” and so many more. If you were Black in the ’90s you were never at a loss for television options. And more than that, they were GOOD! They were funny, the characters were endearing, they taught good lessons and they were something that I would definitely look forward to watching weekly if I were a teen during that time.
One of the most notable factors about all of these shows too though, is that on the shows, Black people were portrayed as people. They weren’t portrayed as caricatures or stereotypes; they weren’t token characters that were just best friends to whoever the main white character was. They had lives and stories and experiences and were portrayed as real people as they should be because Black people ARE real people. These shows were relatable to more than just Black audiences because the experiences the characters faced were things that an average person could relate to.
The ’90s must have been an amazing time to be an upcoming Black actor or actress because of the plethora of role models you had to look up to in the media. Nowadays, Black TV shows and role models are harder to find. Yes, ABC did come out with “Black-ish” in 2014, and it is a good show, but as a Black person I can say I was a bit disappointed when it came out. “Black-ish” is written for the wider ABC audience that isn’t necessarily Black, not an audience that is Black. That means a show about Black people for white people, not a show about Black people FOR Black people.
Of course, there still have been some masterpieces in the past couple years, for example, “Dear White People” and “Insecure.” I remember I watched “Dear White People” all in one night because once I started watching I couldn’t stop. I was shocked by how relatable it was; how funny, raw and accurate it was about what it’s like to be a Black person in this day and age, especially in college. “Insecure” is also great because other than just Issa Rae in general, it has an all Black cast and it’s funny, real, relatable and tells the truth about the hardships you have to face as a Black woman in today’s day and age.
We obviously have a long way to go before we get back to the reign of black TV we had in the ’90s, so, for now, I’ll just keep watching reruns of “The Fresh Prince” until I can create my own hit Black sitcom.