BET has given us so many shows over the years, but many didn’t leave a lasting imprint on our culture. There are, however, some that did, and it’s time to salute them! Check our picks for the 13 greatest shows in BET history.
13. Rip the Runway
Black people sure can dress! And BET put our fashion and style on display when the network premiered Rip the Runway in 2005. It gave a spotlight to up and coming designers that we probably would have never known existed, if it weren’t for the show. And the great part about RTR, is that the show didn’t leave anyone out, and even included plus-sized lines. Each year, the show was hosted by the best in the business, like Nicki Minaj, Eva Pigford, Selita Ebanks and Boris Kodjoe. We haven’t had anything on TV like it since the last special, which aired in 2013.
12. Sunday’s Best
Singing competitions flooding networks these days are kind of stale and a bit similar. From American Idol to The Voice, we see there’s a ton of talent out there, but one genre is still left out: gospel music. That’s where Sunday’s Best came in. Since it’s 2007 premiere, Sunday’s Best starts out with the best of the best finalists, and we see them eliminated one by one each week. It’s even backed by some of gospel’s elite, like Kirk Franklin, BeBe and CeCe Winans and Kierra “Kiki” Sheard. And the show has taken contestants to the next level. Season three winner Le’Andria Johnson won a Grammy for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance.
11. Caribbean Rhythms
BET made sure to let viewers know that Black music extended far beyond hip-hop and R&B. The network created Caribbean Rhythms, which featured videos from reggae and dancehall artists. Hosted by the gorgeous Rachel Stuart, who was a former Miss Jamaica, Caribbean Rhythms also took you straight to the island and put a spotlight on different countries with background information. Rachel made us want to pack our bags at once!
10. College Hill
College Hill was BET’s answer to The Real World, but with homework. Each season would plunk 10 students into one house, from members of the basketball team to the heads of student organizations. But what would a reality TV show be without a fight or two? College Hill had one of the most epic smackdowns in reality show history during season four between students Vanessa and Crystal.
9. Black Girls Rock!
There aren’t many shows out there to tell our Black girls they are worthy. But Black Girls Rock!, developed by DJ Beverly Bond, does that and more with its annual special. Since the show’s debut in 2010, Black Girls Rock! celebrates women not only in entertainment (Tracee Ellis Ross and Nia Long) but in business and philanthropy as well. The awards show got the ultimate nod when First Lady Michelle Obama made an appearance and declared to the world, that Black girls do, indeed, rock.
8. Bobby Jones Gospel
Bobby Jones Gospel was the longest running show on BET, and it was for a reason. Started by Dr. Bobby Jones, the show pretty much started at the network’s inception in 1980, and it helped most gospel artists found their footing in the music business. The program launched the careers of artists like Yolanda Adams, Hezekiah Walker and Kirk Franklin, just to name a few. The performance show finally ended its run in 2015 after 35 years on air.
7. BET Nightly News
There were no news programs that existed solely for us before BET Nightly News. The show, anchored by Tavis Smiley, Jacque Reid and Michelle Miller, gave us our news from our view. It premiered in 2001 and was canceled in 2005, but the network revived the show since there’s was still a void in Black news programming. It was ultimately canceled again in 2011.
When you think of Uncut, most people’s first thoughts would go directly to Nelly‘s infamous “Tip Drill” video and him sliding a credit card down a video vixen’s booty cheeks (see reaction here). That’s exactly the type of video that would be played on the show. It showed you all of the videos that wouldn’t be played during the day. Forget about banning them! BET just played them late-night for the insomniacs who wanted to see their videos, well, uncut. The network decided to ax the show in 2006 due to backlash about the hyper-sexualized content that was airing. And despite recent rumors that the network decided to bring it back, BET shut those down and confirmed it wasn’t true.
5. Video Soul
Video Soul was one of BET’s first music video programs, hosted by ol’ light eyes, Donnie Simpson. Not only did Video Soul air music videos, but Simpson would also interview the top artists out at the time. We needed a show like Video Soul because there was no other network showing a solid rotation of Black videos at the time. It was necessary.
Since the show’s inception in 1992, ComicView has put so many of our favorite comedians on our radars. The show had a fun format: comedians take the stage (and even some audience members) while Miss Laura and Reynaldo Rey shouted from the background. Whoever did the best during the season got to host the following season, so we got to see comic greats like Cedric the Entertainer, Sommore, Gary Owen and Rickey Smiley really hone their crafts as hosts. The show originally ended in 2008, but made a resurgence for the fans in 2014. It’s still on air today.
3. 106 & Park
Until 106 & Park came around in 2000, its mainstream counterpart TRL had no real competition. No one expected the countdown show, hosted by then unknowns named AJ and Free, to change the countdown game forever. With each host (there have been 12 in all, including Terrence J, Angela Simmons and Bow Wow) came fun and comfort – they sat each guest on their couch, after all – and it’s no wonder that the video countdown show was number one throughout its 14-year run.
2. Teen Summit
There weren’t many places that young people could go and voice their opinions until 1989 when the network premiered Teen Summit. On the show, teens discusses real topics they faced everyday, and it was a safe space for them to do so, without judgment. No topic was off limits, which made the show so amazing, not to mention performances from the hottest acts at the time, that made it even better. And even with the show’s ending in 2002, there’s still nothing on the air like it today.
1. Rap City
Rap City just wasn’t your average music video show. Created in 1989 as a less glamorous Yo! MTV Raps, Rap City showed the best of the best in the business, whether that artist was the most famous or underground. Everybody got their shot. First hosted by “The Unseen VJ,” Big Tigger was the one to actually take the show and make it his own. It was during his reign that the show was renamed Rap City: Tha Basement. What set the show apart from the rest, though, was the freestyle booth. Each rapper interviewed had to spit something in the booth before the episode’s end. Rap City closed its booth doors when the show ended in 2008.
Which BET show was your favorite?
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