Quality Black Television: Does It Still Exist Or Has It Become A Thing Of The Past?

Is there still such thing as “Good Black television”?

By: Taren Vaughan

Back in the day, you couldn’t find a black TV show that you didn’t like or had something in common with. Every show had its own spin to it and they all had some kind of distinct message behind every episode that really had viewers thinking and anticipating the next airing of the show. But gone are the days that we crave T.G.I.F.’s, highlighted by the loveable nerdy next door neighbor or wondering if Dwayne and Whitley are going to call it a quits for good this time. The quality of sitcoms starring African American actors and actresses has declined over the years. This may be true but some shows have managed to bring some life back to Black television.

Take “Girlfriends” for example. Coined as the new age version of “Living Single”, this show was one of the most popular shows amongst the African American female viewing audiences. Why? Because they went through realistic things that many of us could relate to, something that not only black shows but white sitcoms have had a tendency to lack sometimes too. Not to mention that we all have a home girl or know someone that reminds us of each character. The comedy and the realism behind this show was what kept it alive. But unfortunately, a good thing came to an end when the show was taken off the air after its eight year run.

With the demise of “Girlfriends” and “Everybody Hates Chris”, a number of black sitcoms shortly followed. After putting out multiple stage plays and dabbling in the big screen film industry, Producer Tyler Perry took his shot in the area of sitcoms, putting out “House Of Payne” and “Meet The Browns”. Of course, in each of these shows there are some recognizable faces in them from his plays and movies. Why wouldn’t there be? He is known for recycling actors over and over again. Can’t knock Perry for giving work to African Americans but overall, have these shows made a lasting impression so far on any of its viewers? Let’s see what some of them have to say:

“I started watching “House of Payne” when it first came out and I thought it was okay. But the more I kept watching it, the more turned off that I became. It’s not a completely horrible show but I have seen better when it comes to black sitcoms, much better”

-Marsha J.
Age: 25
Chesapeake, VA

“I can definitely say that I like “Meet The Browns” better than “House Of Payne”. But I’m not totally in love with either one of the shows. I prefer to watch Tyler Perry’s stage plays and big screen movies over his sitcoms. They are just much more entertaining to me”

-Adrienne M.
Age: 21
Oakland, CA

Sounds like some people prefer TP on stage than on TV.

People may not be feelin’ these two sitcoms. But the heavily anticipated return of BET’s “The Game” was definitely something that drew in millions of viewers, 7.7 million to be exact. The season premiere got BET’s ratings up as a network. But how do the viewers themselves rate the show?

“Honestly, “The Game” had to grow on me. I did not fall in love with it with the first episode when it was played on CW. I really wasn’t into it then. But over time, I became a fan and have watched every episode since then”

-Natalia B.
Age: 19
Boston, MA

“Okay, am I the only one that doesn’t particularly like “The Game” like that? Because I feel like I am. I just can’t get into it at all. The story lines are cheesy to me and I just can’t bring myself to watch it like that. No offense to the actors at all but “The Game” is not on my list of must sees.”

-Britney S.
Age: 24
Columbus, OH

“I love this show. I was so glad to see it come back and was anticipating its return for months. I watched the season premiere with a few of my friends and I liked it a lot. But I will say that I hope that they didn’t ruin the rest of the season by adding so much drama into the very first episode. Too much foul play in the first ep. Overall, I’m still a huge fan of the show”

-Brandy K.
Age: 31
Tallahassee, FL

Looks like “The Game” didn’t score well with everyone but definitely faired pretty well with a good many.

As we can all see, the emergence of new black sitcoms and dramas has not decreased at all. They are still coming out left and right. But what good does it do when the shows don’t last long on TV? Or if they are so dry that no wants to watch them? That’s where the true problem lies. Even with some of these shows bringing in high viewing volumes and stirring up a few laughs here and there, I doubt we will ever see shows that can compete with the likes of “The Cosby Show”, “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” and “A Different World”. Don’t really see that happening any time soon. But hey, I could be proven wrong. For the sake of “our people’s TV”, let’s hope that I am.

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