The 10 Best Black Sitcoms Of The '90s, Ranked
If you're a millennial, you've probably fallen in love with a black sitcom or two.
And if you're anything like me, you know every single one of those sitcom's plots, characters, producers and more.
Whether you watched the shows during their first airings, or caught up with the re-runs during your "sick" days home from school, you remember how good they were.
And while the '80s produced perhaps the greatest black sitcom ever (heard of "The Cosbys," anyone?), you could make an argument that the '90s were the real golden age for this genre, considering the sheer volume shows the decade produced.
Now, I'd be remiss to not give honorable mention to titles like "Hanging With Mr. Cooper" and even "Kenan & Kel," but this list is specifically for the heavy hitters.
Here are the top 10 black sitcoms from the '90s:
10. "The Steve Harvey Show"
Steve Harvey's sitcom could've been higher if it wasn't geared toward an older audience.
To be fair though, the show was complemented by the fact that all the main characters worked at a high school, and had a couple favorite kids who were featured heavily.
Students like Romeo and "Bullet Head" added immature fun while the older heads, Steve, Cedric and Regina acted out all the "adult" storylines.
The show was funniest when Steve was constantly flirting with Regina. And it always got funnier when she would remind him that she's the principal, aka his boss, and would shut him down.
Also, #TBT to when Steve Harvey had crispy, perfect hair.
9. "The Wayans Bros."
The best way I can describe this show is "solid."
It's not the greatest, but it definitely had all the elements of a memorable '90s sitcom: iconic talent and lots and lots of catch phrases.
Sean played the smart, clever older brother. Marlon was funnier, but more clueless. And "Pops," well pops could make anybody laugh with one word:
8. "The Jamie Foxx Show"
You know why this one can't for higher than eighth? Because the show is only memorable because of the star himself, Jamie Foxx.
Now, obviously that goes without saying for most shows, but the gap between Foxx and his co-stars was huge. Even Steve Harvey's show had another big star, like Cedric the Entertainer.
"The Jamie Foxx Show" didn't.
Foxx also copied Martin Lawrence's specialty of playing other recurring characters, but there were some good ones, like Tyrone Koppel, an obvious parody of famed newsman Ted Koppel.
That being said, the show was still funny as hell, especially when Foxx would constantly get shut down by girl of his dreams, Fancy.
All those years of him getting shut down also made the show even sweeter, once they got married.
7. "Sister, Sister"
I'll admit it, I'm pretty sure I hold this show in much higher regard than I should, but it's probably because of my age.
If you're in your 20s, Tia and Tamara hold a special place in your heart for a few reasons.
One, they were like an alternative to Mary-Kate and Ashley.
Two, among all the shows on this list, it was probably the most relatable if you consider how old you were when you watched it, and how old they were when the show first aired.
Tamara gushed over Boys II Men like a lot of girls viewing probably did. And Roger grew out of his nerdy stage like a lot of us guys did.
Speaking of Roger, LOL at this show being Marques Houston's start.
This is another show that showed how well-rounded a good number of black music artists were in the '90s. LL Cool J starred in his own show; Will Smith did the same. So did Queen Latifah, and then there was Brandy, as Moesha.
The thing to remember most about "Moesha" is that it is exactly what you'd call a "Dramady."
It had the laughs, but it also took on a serious tone more often than other sitcoms, like that time when Usher tried to pressure Moesha into "going upstairs."
There were even more serious story lines when Brandy's real-life brother, Ray-J, came onto the scene. He joined the cast as Moesha's cousin and brought along all his trouble.
This show also gets a special shoutout for spawning "The Parkers" as a spin-off.
So here's the thing with "Martin:" It was one-dimensional.
Many sitcoms find ways to hit serious themes (like "Moesha"), but if you tuned in to "Martin," you tuned in for the jokes and the jokes only.
That being said, that one dimension was a great one, and the jokes were hilarious. It felt like the show knew it had one dimension and went all in on that one dimension.
In fact, the show was overly animated at times (think Martin breaking into Gina's hotel room).
But the show could get away with that. After all, everyone watching the show knew it was built around Martin Lawrence playing as many ridiculous roles as possible.
Amidst all the jokes though, there were a couple of keys lessons to take. A relationship in which both people roast each other, like Martin and Gina, is probably the best relationship.
Plus, if you have a friend named Tommy, he is forbidden from ever mentioned he occupation. Why? Because everyone knows.
4. "Family Matters"
Let's start with the obvious: "Family Matters" gave us one of the most iconic TV figures ever, Steve Urkel.
Urkel did a couple of things. It kind of made sense of all our friends who are simultaneously super book-smart and street-dumb. And it also made the show watchable for anyone.
Even my parents knew who Urkel was. Everyone could be entertained by his antics. "Family Matters" also gets bonus points for its longevity. Nine seasons is really impressive for a show that began as a spinoff.
3. "Living Single"
Underrated, underrated, underrated.
I mean, I'm not gonna lie, I LOVE "Friends," but "Living Single" was the original six-single-friends-in-the-city sitcom. (Plus, Kyle and Maxine's back-and-forth relationship was much more satisfying than the drawn out Rachel-Ross saga.)
Let's just acknowledge that.
Let's also acknowledge that "Living Single" also used the model of having a popular hip-hop star as a centerpiece to great effect (like another show we're about to get to).
All in all, it's a story of a group of cool, successful, Brooklyn-dwelling black people in their late 20s, who would be millennials if the show was cast today.
2. "A Different World"
This one could have made it to the top spot, but we have to knock it down a bit since half of the series aired during the late 80s. Nevertheless, it was still a great show during the '90s and still an iconic one for '90s kids.
Here's the best thing about "A Different World:" If you fell in love with it during middle or high school, you probably appreciated the show more as you got older.
The events at Hillman College gives great perspective on the black college experience, even if you didn't attend a black college.
The aftermath, particularly Dwayne and Whitney's story, provided an ideal picture of what young black love should look like.
This is definitely one that you come to love more as you grow through your college years and into post-grad life.
1. "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
"Fresh Prince" is the type of show that you have to wonder, "how can I not put this number one?"
There is no good answer.
The show gave us a rich black family, for once, but not at the cost of their identity.
Meanwhile, Will brought all the street cred the show needed. So there was a good mix of affluent black life and straight-out-the-hood black life.
"Fresh Prince" has hands down the most memorable opening theme song.
Plus, the show also had probably the greatest list of guest stars ever. Tyra Banks showed up, Queen Latifah showed up, Zsa Zsa Gabor and so many more, including a guy named Donald Trump!
Plus, unlike many great sitcoms, it doesn't feel like "Fresh Prince" lasted too long. Six seasons was the perfect length.
The only thing you can knock the show for is removing the actress who originally played the role of Aunt Viv in favor of a much less talented actress.
But even that's not enough take it away from the number one spot. "Fresh Prince" is the classic of all classics.
Oh and one last thing: RIP James Avery.