Netflix adds seven classic Black sitcoms to its collection

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Photo by Zach Bukowski

“Moesha” is a 1996 sitcom starring singer and songwriter Brandy Norwood.

In recent months, Netflix has been leading other media and entertainment platforms at the forefront of racial justice activism.

The company’s efforts in this area have manifested in a variety of forms, such as the new Black Lives Matter category on Netflix, which features shows like “Dear White People” and “Malcolm X.” Netflix also pledged $5 million to Black creators, youth organizations and businesses in June according to an article published by Variety.

Additionally, the company has been making an effort to increase cultural and ideological diversity on the platform in order to better represent its diverse consumer base. 

This is can be particularly good news for people with a Netflix account, or a friend’s Netflix password, because it means they officially have unlimited access to a variety of classic Black sitcoms.

Netflix announced on its @stongblacklead Twitter account that it would be releasing seven Black sitcoms from the 90s and 2000s July 29.

The first to be released was “Moesha” which debuted Netflix Aug 1. Then followed seasons 1-3 of “The Game,” “Sister, Sister,” “Girlfriends,” “The Parkers,” “Half & Half” and “One on One,” which were both released Oct. 15.

“Moesha”

“Moesha” is a 1996 sitcom starring singer and songwriter Brandy Norwood. Over the course of six seasons, it follows a sassy teenager named Moesha Mitchell as she navigates the trials of her young adult life. Mo is a high schooler in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles living with her father, Frank, her younger brother, Myles and her new stepmom, Dee. 

The show kicks off with Mo learning how to coexist with her new stepmom as well as how to keep her new boyfriend a secret from her overprotective father. As she continues to move forward with her life, and into more drama, she has a couple of boy-crazy best friends, Kim and Niecy, to help her along the way.

The show, which stopped airing in 2001, eventually inspired a spin-off called “The Parkers” which was released to Netflix Oct. 1. It follows the family of one of Moesha’s best friends, Kim Parker, as Kim’s mother decides to go back to school and graduate alongside her daughter.

Anyone interested in a classic coming-of-age narrative intertwined with a lot of sass and drama should log onto Netflix and take a look at “Moesha,” and if you like it, try giving “The Parkers” a shot.

“The Game”

Brandy Norwood appears again in this show, which was released to Netflix Aug. 15, as a bartender that eventually becomes a recurring character.

“The Game” is a 2006 show starring Tia Mowry as Melanie Barnett, a medical student dating a rookie professional football player named Derwin Davis, played by Pooch Hall.

The story follows the couple and their relationships with other football players on the fictional “San Diego Sabers” and their significant others.

It stretches on for a lengthy nine seasons, and in that time, many plot changes take place. Namely, Melanie and Derwin make their exit as the show’s primary characters. However, the three seasons that are available on Netflix stay true to the original arch of the plot. They chronicle Melanie’s experiences as she studies her way through medical school while managing her relationships.

This wildly popular show is actually a spin-off of “Girlfriends”, a show released to Netflix Sept. 11. In this series, Melanie Barnett was introduced to the world in an episode called “The Game.” The episode was received so well by audiences that it was picked up as its own show.

This is a good sign that “The Game” is worth giving a watch.

“Sister, Sister”

“Sister,  Sister” premiered in 1994, starring “The Game” lead actress Tia Mowry and her real life twin sister Tamera Mowry.

The six-season series follows two adopted teenage twin sisters, Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell, who were separated at birth. Due to a stroke of luck, they stumble across each other to discover, to their pleasant surprise, that they are sisters.

The girls’ parents are just as surprised as they are, but not nearly as thrilled. Lisa Landry and Ray Campbell, both single parents, dislike each other from the get-go. However, strange circumstances result in both families living under the same roof.

The show follows these two families as they learn to live with each other while the twins cope with the ups and downs of their teenage years.

“Sister, Sister” is a good option for anyone looking to become emotionally invested in a witty and heart-warming coming-of-age story.

Social justice activism comes in many forms. It can involve public displays and marches, posts on social media or a variety of different forms of political art. In Netflix’s case, it comes in the form of increased representation on its platform.

And this step taken by Netflix may enable others to move in the direction of promoting social justice. For some, these shows are cherished childhood classics, now available to them to enjoy all over again. For others, however, these shows may be completely new. As a result, they may create a new and fun opportunity for them to familiarize themselves with and appreciate those who are different from them.

This story was written by Charlotte Ives. She can be reached at charlotte.ives@marquette.edu.