Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against The Cosby Show. It’s not only one of the best black sitcoms to ever be produced, but one of the best sitcoms, period. But when it comes to ranking black sitcoms, The Cosby Show is the “Thriller” of the medium. It will almost always land at the top of the list.
Over the course of television history, there have been dozens of black sitcoms that we have all watched in the comfort of our homes, so I figured it was time to retire the Huxtables and let some other shows duke it out for the top slot.
5. A Different World
This spin-off of The Cosby Show brought the HBCU experience into the homes of America on a weekly basis from 1987 to 1993. Viewers immediately fell in love with the show’s cast of characters, from Whitley Gilbert the rich southern belle to Dwayne Wayne the awkward nerd. During the show’s run, the show dealt with serious topics such as apartheid, censorship, AIDS, date rape, and much more.
4. Good Times
The Evans family of Chicago’s southside projects gave television viewers an unapologetic view of a hard working, low-income black family trying to survive. Though the family’s socioeconomic status wasn’t the greatest, the family stuck together through thick and thin and managed to make audiences and each other laugh in the process.
The show also tackled more than its fair share of social issues. Everyone remembers when Penny, played by a young Janet Jackson, was burned by the iron, or when J.J. thought he had contracted VD.
3. The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air
This sitcom launched Will Smith’s career into the stratosphere. Viewers nationwide fell in love with his character as well as his TV family, The Banks family. We all did the “Carlton Dance.” We all laughed when Will’s best friend Jazz repeatedly got thrown out of the house by Uncle Phil. We all cried when Will’s father left him a second time. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was quite possibly the only successor to the throne of The Cosby Show when it comes to sitcoms centered around the black family.
2. The Jeffersons
From its memorable theme song to George Jefferson’s love affair with the word “honky,” The Jeffersons was the perfect sitcom for the black audience in the late 70s. Fortunately, the rest of America caught on and kept The Jeffersons on the air well into the 80s. The interplay between George and his wife, Weezy; their maid, Florence; as well as their neighbors, the Wilsons, an interracial couple, continues to keep audiences in stitches.
1. Living Single
Admittedly, Living Single, isn’t an obvious pick for the #1 slot, but look at it this way: the premise of the show was so great that it was completely stolen, recast, and called Friends. The ensemble cast consistently got laughs and showcased a group of young, successful black men and women.