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Old 09-25-2017, 03:16 AM   #1
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Default What Happened To The Golden Age Of Black Sitcoms?

The 1990s was a golden age for black sitcoms, but with the new millennium, they seemingly disappeared from TV. Where did all the black sitcoms go?
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Old 09-25-2017, 08:43 AM   #2
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Old 09-25-2017, 12:09 PM   #3
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  • ➤Sitcoms were dead to TV execs, they were ruled by dramas until The Cosby Show came along and showed just how popular sitcoms (not just black) could be. The birth of the black sitcom boom began in the '80s with that show.

    ➤When FOX came along they took a cue from the Cosby Show's success and started airing programs geared towards the black and Latino markets. In Living Color, Roc, Martin, Living Single, and South Central for example.

    ➤In 1994 the majority of black produced shows were cancelled in one fell swoop. They were cancelled because FOX became successful enough to court white audiences--gearing mainly towards the young white male demo. Why? Viewing habits were changing. In the '80s, black and white people mostly watched the same shows, but in the '90s we began to see a split. In the '90s the top TV shows in white households weren't the same as the one in blacks. Seinfield was the #1 rated show in white households in 1997. 50th among black people. In black households, the #1 show was Between Brothers, 112th among whites.

    ➤Other networks started to follow through. NBC launched a campaign titled "Must See TV". Young white single in the city like Friends. In a sense, gentrification pushed black people off TV.

    ➤Black sitcoms got pushed to other networks such as The WB and UPN.
    Before they merged to join the CW, they followed the same model FOX did to become successful. Make black sitcoms--gain popularity--make white shows--drop black shows.

    ➤In the 2000s, sitcoms started dying. More people were watching reality shows. With no Cosby Show to start a new wave, all sitcoms were frozen--not just black.

    ➤One guy says that '90s black sitcoms didn't do a good job of digging into the black American experience. Tropes, stereotypes, and slapstick humor mostly.

    ➤It took the Fresh Prince episode of Will Smith speaking about his father walking out to change the formula.

    That scene was the beginning of sitcoms' ability to merge comedy and drama--another thing that ended up being bad for black sitcoms.

    ➤Shows like Desperate Housewives merged comedy and drama into 1 hour, people got what they wanted, so traditional sitcoms suffered.

    ➤This decade, we see more inclusive casting with both comedy and drama mixed in like Orange is the New Black and Atlanta.

    ➤Another major impact on black sitcoms is the internet. Netflix provides new shows with black faces plus the old ones from the '90s we love so much. Along with black stand up specials.

    ➤Brings up Blackish. Interesting note: 79% of its audience isn't black.

    ➤With all of this, will we be able to see another slew of black sitcoms? It's closer than we think, we are really just one hit away from it. We just need an example of doing it right.
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Old 09-28-2017, 02:15 AM   #4
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It is not that black sitcoms went away but the genre of sitcoms was no longer dominating the airwaves on the major channels as they had for decades. A lot of cable channels have created their own sitcoms catered around the genre of their majority viewing audience. More and more hour long dramas, reality shows, or talent competitive shows started to dominate the prime time slots. This is still true for a lot of TV and they have ensembles. Shows such as Empire or Power have replaced the sitcom era of "black" theme/casted shows of the 80/90's.
I won't go as far as to say a lot of the dramas that play today have a very diverse cast of black/white equal ratio but shows like Law & Order franchise (for an example) do tend to try to keep the guest stars and plot lines rotating with a diverse content and guest cast. I suppose the day of prime time having "black golden era sitcoms" will depend on how strongly sitcoms can make a strong showing in competition with the other genres. However, I believe the ensemble casted dramas with majority black characters have done pretty good.
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Old 10-14-2017, 02:01 AM   #5
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In the sitcom world there was a whole new world of new and exciting sitcoms starting in the 1970's and 1980's and by the time the 1980's began there were lots of exciting shows and for the sitcom world it introduced a whole generation of fans to sitcoms people had never seen before in their lifetime. Starting with the sitcom Good Times we indeed saw a whole new look being introduced to sitcoms and it continued with the sitcoms Sanford And Son and The Jeffersons and That's My Mama but once the 80's began this new sitcom trend continued with shows like 227 and Webster but it would take a sitcom starring Bill Cosby to take this sitcom trend to a new level. Another thing that made this sitcom trend popular was if the lead actor/actress in a sitcom was a singer the sitcom made the singer more popular as we saw with the late Nell Carter with Gimme A Break and it made a huge mark in the sitcom world to see sitcoms with singers in the R&B music scene. And when the 90's began we saw more sitcoms that had singers when The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air made it's debut on NBC in 1990 and made Will Smith a successful movie star and rap artist and when Family Matters launched it's second season also in 1990 it made Jaleel White a popular star and also Family Matters became a monster hit for ABC as well. Once NBC saw the success of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air they launched Out All Night a short lived sitcom with singer Patti Labelle and although Out All Night was cancelled Patti Labelle grew into a more successful singer. CBS also had success with Me And The Boys in 1995 which launched the career of Family Feud host Steve Harvey but it too was a short lived sitcom but fans will likely remember it as a introduction to a successful comedian and game show star. And with shows like Sister Sister Moesha The Parkers this trend in sitcoms continued and with Tyler Perry producing and creating sitcoms for OWN Network and TBS this sitcom trend will still continue on TV for many years to come
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Old 10-15-2017, 12:09 PM   #6
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Well, I used to binge on the American 80s and 90s sitcoms. And even though I'm almost as white as one can be, a bunch of my all time favorite sitcoms were black: "Family Matters", "Sister, Sister", "Fresh Prince of Bel Air". Good times!
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Old 10-18-2017, 01:33 AM   #7
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The Golden Era of black sitcoms were the 1970's with shows like Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, What's Happening and Good Times, all shows widely watched by not only blacks but whites also. The Jeffersons was on ten years, the last two or three was when The Cosby Show debuted. So "black sitcoms" did not originate with The Cosby Show, Cos had another show in the early 1970's and The Fat Albert Show on Saturday mornings.

I think that most of the shows in the 1990's did not have wide appeal to non African Americans as the 1970's shows did. Also, for good or for ill, blacks on average then had less spending power than whites, and whites didnt watch Martin or Moesha. In the 1970's, there were only three networks and basically three choices, so the shows that were successful got a wide audience from a cross section of the population.

The 1990's started what basically we have on television right now. The primarily African American cast shows did not do as well because there are more choices and most whites didnt watch these shows, which means less revenue opportunity with advertisers. There was The Fresh Prince, but that show got wide appeal since Will Smith was in it, exceptions to the rule.

So instead of having a show to appeal to one demographic, have shows with a multicultural cast. Why have black shows? Or Hispanic shows? Or white or Asian shows (Isnt Ken Jeong's show cancelled now?) for that matter. We like ensamble series and see a bit of everyone that everyone can identify with. These are the times. There are so many range of choices in programming and now the internet, the shows must have wide appeal that everyone would like.
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