DAR TV: Moesha

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-Brandy was a huge R&B star in the 90's. She had hits, album sales and would eventually get her own sitcom on the UPN network, titled Moesha. Now, the concept of a show with the title of Moesha didn't necessarily sit well with me at first, but the show itself wasn't a stereotypical black family, it was a coming of age story about a teenage girl getting through high school and eventually onto college along with her family and surrounding friends supporting her. Debuting in January 1996, the show was an instant hit and the hugest success for the UPN Network spanning 6 seasons and 127 episodes. Today, the team gathers to look back at the sitcom. Let's get into it.

January 1996, UPN would air Moesha, a show that would quickly become a teen favorite almost right away. So much so that it was the longest running series the network would ever have. The show was built around the social and family life of a teenage girl who would be played by Brandy. Personally I feel she was an excellent choice for this role, her chemistry with the rest of the cast was great on screen, the dynamic between her and Fredro Starr had me believing they were actually dating, and her real life brother played her cousin, while Marcus T. Paulk who played her little brother was adorable and their dynamic as siblings was incredibly believeable.

What is kind of interesting to me about this particular show was that it’s sort of a hybrid between a sitcom and an awareness campaign. Definitely intended to be a “feel good” comedy with the usual topics of relationships, family annoyances and friendship dramas, but it randomly addressed quite serious matters that were a little bit misplaced. At times I do think it was a bit heavy for a teenage audience, for example, when Mo found out her cousin was actually her brother because her father had an affair in his first marriage, or when Myles became “addicted” to marijuana (which is actually hilarious in theory).  Those kinds of things, although fantastic for awareness and “education” definitely took away from the comedic aspect. Also the show ended really randomly in 2001, and it was filled with unfinished storylines. Myles was kidnapped, so like what the heck happened there? Mo took off with Hakeem AND she was pregnant and didn’t know? really?!! That was my only beef with the show,don’t end it like that, come on! I did like that the family was very normal, relatable and the character personalities were dope. My absolute favorite was Andell, I just loved her attitude and sass. She was like the 16 year old stuck in a 40 year old’s body. I also liked that everyone had really "normal" average jobs and lives in general.

Again, Moesha was a relatable, fun, sometimes funny and all around engaging show. It had a solid 5 year run and gained a tremendous viewer base season after season and the guest appearances were plentiful and impressive. Basically anyone who was relevant during the 90's showed up in some way, shape or form from Jessica Simpson to Kobe Bryant to Master P, this show really had it all.

Eh. It was a kid-friendly teen dramedy (it had some pretty dramatic moments) that helped make Brandy into, twenty years later, Zoe Ever After (and maintain a spot in the music business).

But was that all it was? Not really. Sure, Moesha was a spoiled little brat at times (no seriously. Who bitches about getting a brand new car?!), but at least she got to talk to Maya Angelou, right? There was a balance between Mo being a spoiled assclown and her being a realistic portrayal of a young black woman in the 90s and such with more focus on the good than the negative.

Balancing school and socializing, dating qualms, wonky family situations. These are things that we all have dealt with at one point or another. That's what keeps this show from being a complete cheesefest. Yes, that even includes when Ray J came on the scene. The same can't be said about One on One, but that show was pretty much doomed after Kelly Perine and the Spirit girl were written out.

Moesha, while very imperfect, wasn't all that bad. It wasn't great, but it helped to create The Parkers (which helped Mo'Nique become a household name in the 2000s) and allowed us to see the world through the eyes of a young black person in the era it sprung from. Without its success, it's easy to see some of the black sitcoms that came after it not being as well-received.

So, all in all? It's harmless teenybopping brain juice that presents black teenagers in a way that isn't exactly outright corny. Yay.

Every girl I know essentially grew up watching Moesha. That show depicted what it was like coming up specifically as a black teenager. So many different people were able to relate to the show because it displayed different aspects of life. From boyfriends to drugs to family problems, Moesha covered it all and that’s what I miss most about it.

Singer Brandy starred as the know-it-all yet down to earth Moesha Mitchell. She was your average 15-year-old girl with a mind of her own and friends that had her back. I think the reason so many of us related to the show is because we saw ourselves in it. During the 90s, Brandy’s singing career was taking off. To see her in a different light was refreshing. Moesha highlighted the urban culture and that was excited. Fashion, lingo, music… it was right there in front of us.

While Moesha seemed put together, she had a bit of a rebellious streak in her. If she wasn’t arguing with her dad, she was running off to Tijuana. Moesha had so many memorable moments during its run and I value that. When it comes on to this day, I still give it my attention. For young girls to see someone who looked like them on television and was smart and carried herself well was huge. Viewers saw a family image and a group of people that were looking to better themselves. That idea was influential in many ways.

Moesha was a successful young woman. She dealt with every day things like peer pressure but she never lost sight of her goals. In today’s society, people need to see that. Most of all, the show was funny. It was pure comedy without being degrading or using profanity. Moesha was a true family-friendly show and I still need to know who was pregnant at the end.

Outro by @TrueGodImmortal 
-You know, one thing about Moesha that remains to be interesting to me was the way they presented everything to us. Moesha was a young teenage girl trapped in her varying emotions, dating this guy and that guy, and was almost seen as a somewhat popular girl with a ton of emotional complexity, while her friends paled in comparison. There was always that one girl in high school who in some ways mirrored that. My favorite memory of the show? Personally? Her father Frank Mitchell. Why? Not because of his half ass life lessons or his Bill Cosby influenced fatherly role, but because of his hair. This man had a brick flat top on his head and every episode I'd watch, I would shed tears of laughter. I know, I know, it has nothing to do with the show, but in a way it has everything to do with it.

The various cameos on the show were definitely fun and fit well, and I thought Hakeem and Niecy were pretty good characters, and I always found the epic saga of D-Money and Master P to be a set of episodes I could watch over and over. One significant thing about Moesha that doesn't get mentioned as much is that in a lot of ways, it created the Mara Brock Akil universe that would spawn Girlfriends, The Game, The Parkers, and more. Most of those shows exist within the same universe in TV terms, despite Brandy playing a different role on The Game, her role was essentially an ode to Moesha growing up. Regardless, Moesha is one of the prime black sitcoms of the 90's and the success it had stands as important and vital to teenage black girls still.



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