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The Revival of Black Sitcoms in the Streaming Era

Explore the revival of Black sitcoms in the streaming era, offering fresh perspectives and how they continue to challenge stereotypes in entertainment.


Dec. 17 2023, Published 9:08 p.m. ET

In recent years, streaming went through a makeover, and guess what is catching the eyes? Black sitcoms are making a comeback – think That’s So Raven, Marlon, Family Reunion, All About the Washingtons, and Black-ish. These shows are not just dropping episodes.

They are making a cultural splash and are reminding viewers everywhere that whether they relate to it or not, Black culture and the Black experience are a fact of life. Black sitcoms speak to the continual need for inclusion, diversity, understanding, and acceptance in the world today.

Five Black Sitcoms Making a Splash Over the Last Decade

First up on our list of popular Black Sitcomes of recent years is That’s So Raven (2003–2007). Raven Symone plays the title character, a teenager with psychic powers who always tries to get a step ahead of her visions. But she ends up goofing things up or getting in trouble because she never sees all the details of her premonitions. She and her two best friends, Eddie and Chelsea, wind up in fine messes in hilarious situations they usually barely get out of. This one was full of as much fun and flair as laughter.

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Next, we have the Black family sitcom called Marlon (2017–2018). This one is not your average sitcom. Marlon Wayans leads the comedy aspect of the show as his character continues to plow head-first into the familiar chaos of life. These include hot-button topics and situations like co-parenting, dating, and trying not to lose it when life throws curveballs. Marlon's comedic swagger and the real-life scenarios that are thrown in the mix make Marlon a standout in the Black sitcom revival today.

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Continuing the list of Black sites to look out for on your favorite streaming service is All About the Washingtons (2018). This show takes a bold step by providing a fictionalized glimpse into the life of hip-hop artist Rev Run and his real-life wife, Justine Simmons. It splices real life with a sense of humor like peeking behind the curtain, getting an insider peek at the music biz and family life. Reality is key to this show, which leans into storylines dealing with how life has its highs and lows.

Next, we have Family Reunion (2019–2022) which takes a nostalgic turn, looking back to classic family sitcoms of the past. The McKellans, a family from Seattle, move to Georgia to be closer to their extended family. Loretta Devine is the no-nonsense matriarch running the show and gives wisdom with all the crazy laughs. But Family Reunion is not just about jokes as many storylines focus on family, culture clashes, and generational conflicts. It is warm and familiar and overall very inviting to viewers.

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Finally, on the list of popular Black sitcoms, we have the popular Black-ish (2014–2022). This sitcom is a prime mover in modern Black sitcoms. The Anderson family, with Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross leading the charge, takes on a predominately white, fancy hood, dealing with real-life social narratives. Balancing humor and social insight, Black-ish sets the bar high for representation in mainstream media. This delicate balance has earned it a reputation for fun humor and powerful messages that keep the Black experience front and center for viewers to experience and enjoy.

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The Impact of Black Sitcoms

Black sitcoms serve us a slice of life from a Black person’s perspective. They throw diversity in your face, challenging the same old stereotypes and making the media menu more inclusive. So, peel your eyes off the usual suspects and dive into Black sitcoms. They are not just shows. A remedy for the entertainment blahs, Black sitcoms shake things up and prove that Black narratives are worth telling and celebrating.

The Influence of Iconic Black Sitcoms

Black sitcoms on streaming platforms carry the legacy of iconic shows from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, including legendary shows like Sanford and Son (1972–1977), Good Times (1974–1979), The Jeffersons (1975–1985), A Different World (1987–1993), Family Matters (1989–1998); The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990–1996), and Martin (1992–1997), to name a few. These shows entertain and paint a picture of Black experiences — they shout loud and clear that diverse stories matter and are a must for our cultural mix. So, get comfy with that remote and dive into the laughs because the Black sitcom is not going anywhere.

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