These are the opinions of The Beerded Brotha. This is not necessarily true but something to have a healthy discourse and pint over.
I was on Facebook the other day and this person in this marriage group. I know I am engaged but we are about to be married… argue with your mother!
Anyway, this person asked how The Jaime Foxx show ranks amongst black shows over the years. The answers were of course everywhere from at the bottom of their list to a top show for all types of reasons. Some reasons were good and of course you had ridiculous reasons as well.
I have my rankings but I will try to justify my reasons as best as I can. I will judge based on theme song, cultural impact, and overall plot execution. This will be a 3 part blog post and I will start with 10 and go to 1. Grab your popcorn and favorite brew and drink up!
#10 My Wife and Kids
This was a very simple theme song with no lyrics. It was a simple baseline with a sax on a loop that fit the show perfectly. You didn’t get anything too wild from the show in terms of writing or dramatic acting. It was short but put in a mindset that you were prepared to watch a black family show.
I feel like the impact was not too big because we have had a couple black families on tv already from the Huxtables to the Banks family, who both fall on this list, so we weren’t seeing anything dramatically different in terms of a successful family going through different daily situations from puberty to life outside the parents’ houses.
A situation that was not talked about alot was that of them switching the Claire’s throughout seasons. They hit them with the Aunt Viv treatment. I personally liked both for the role but the light skin Claire made sense for the show in terms of casting the kids based on Michael and Jay’s complexion. I have no clue why the switch was made so I won’t dive too deep into that!
I did appreciate that Damon Wayans let his son have some scenes in the show and gave him some exposure to TV acting life.
This was another that was not too different from what we have seen. We have the dad, Michael Kyle played by Damon Wayans, taking care of his… wife and kids. They go through what some families go through regularly with teenage daughter angst, dealing with a not so bright son, and having a favorite young daughter. They experience defiance, love, trust, and even a pregnancy that turned out to be positive and the kids found success in their own way.
This was such a slept on show that I feel like people tend to forget about it. This show was hilarious from Junior dim witted comedy to Jay and Michael Kyle’s chemistry on screen. Micheal was annoying with antiquated thinking at times though! This was a very solid show and fits perfectly at #10 on my list!
#9 Family Matters
This was the epitome of a 90s theme song with a hearty singing voice playing on a guitar playing about three notes carried by a solid baseline. The lyrics deceptively described each character in the theme montage giving you an idea of each character’s role in the show.
I feel like the impact was huge with Family Matters. It’s one of the first few times you had a complete black family on screen with an additional generation for a little razzle dazzle. The Winslow family was a middle class family that people could relate to. They weren’t flashy but they weren’t struggling either. I think that made them so relatable and the show so successful. You even had a black nerd on television in Steve Urkel. You didn’t really see a black boy that loved science and had a big heart like Urkel. I appreciate that because it continued to break the Black people as a monolith myth!
Having Carl work as cop was something that is not talked about alot especially with the historical and often violent relationship with police even back then. I think this was a smart move on the show to do because they touched on Carl having to choose between being a Black father and being a cop. You really saw that moment when his son was unjustly pulled over in a white neighborhood because “he didn’t belong” there. That is a top scene in my book till this day because the volume and truth it still holds in society today.
The overall plot was traditional as it was a family that dealt with day to day tasks from work to warding off a pesky neighbor. They executed each episode well and always tied it to a life lesson that involved growth not only from the children but the parents and grandparent as well. You learned alot from each character from what it is like to lead like Carl to staying true to yourself but grow like Steve. Mistakes will be made like Eddie’s antics but as long as you can learn from them then life will be ok.
This was a slept on show that I feel like people tend to acknowledge but not really talk about how powerful it was. I did think it caught that 90s trend of having a million seasons when it shouldn’t have. I will say it was drug out and you could see the writing and acting getting shaky at the end. This was a very solid show and if it stopped at the right time then I think I could rank it higher so that’s why it fits perfectly at #9 on my list! Also, is Judy ever going to leave her room?!
#8 Wayans Bros.
They’re happy and they’re singing and they’re colored.. Give them a high five! Seriously though, I love this theme song because it starts off as a knock to how theme songs were for black shows back then and Shawn and Marlon weren’t going for that and made their own mix that fit them perfectly for the show.
I feel like the impact was bigger than people chose to realize. The Wayans family had so much talent but they were not afraid to work together and genuinely support each other without any ulterior motives. You saw that with Kim throughout this series making recurring roles. The Wayans were and are the epitome of “everybody eats”.
They were also a complete family with Pop (Bang! Bang! RIP!) owning a diner even if it was a complete mess but it ultimately led Shawn to wanting to open a newsstand and then actually doing it and looked out for his brother Marlon. Marlon was a mess but they never completely lost hope in him and supported him even though it was probably hard. Pops had a role in them finding their path even if it was through unconventional ways. Everybody ate in that show at some point.
The overall plot was traditional as it was another family show in the 90s that beat the stereotypes of struggling, law breaking individuals but a family that created their own opportunities and hustled to find their path. The difference with this family on tv was that everyone started as adults and no one went through growing pains. That opened the door to show how you can grow as an adult. I love the comedy in the show as it showed how siblings interact on a daily basis with each other and the outside world.
This was a well rated show. It didn’t have intricate writing nor acting but the comedy pushed this show to #8 for me.