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DAR TV: The 7 Best Black Sitcoms From UPN

By @TrueGodImmortal

The UPN Network is one of those things that people feel one of two ways about. Either you loved UPN or you hated it. Their shows weren't award winning or groundbreaking, but they did have shows that garnered attention and a fanbase. With that, we wanted to look at the black sitcoms on their network and rank them in order. As a small note, Everybody Hates Chris won't be on the list due to only having one season on the network before moving over to the CW. With that said, what are the best black sitcoms from UPN? Let's take a look. 

7. The Parkers
(5 Seasons, 110 Episodes)

-I admittedly wasn't a fan of this show and it was tough to put this on the list. If anything, this makes the list due to the impact it had in terms of Monique seeing her career grow from it. Starring as Nikki Parker, Monique worked well enough as the annoying loud mother of Kim Parker who had an affinity for Dorien Wilson and his Professor Oglevee character. There were other characters on the show that helped the quality, my favorite being Desiree (played by the beautiful Mari Morrow), who was quickly replaced by Andell. Of course, Stevie and T were regular fixtures on the show as well and enjoyable, but when compared to the other sitcoms on the list, I don't think The Parkers hold up well. I can't sit through an episode today, but I do recognize that many people loved it, thus the inclusion here (though The Hughleys could have taken this spot).

6. One On One
(5 Seasons, 113 Episodes)

-I was never the biggest fan (notice a trend here) of Flex Alexander, but I did feel like this show was done slightly well in a way. It was based in Baltimore, and while my hometown wasn't too pleased by this apparent depiction, I found the comedy on the show to be fun at least and the characters were actually ones that you could relate to in some way (mostly). The show would have a number of guest appearances and cameos over the years, from New Edition to TLC to Chris Brown and many more, adding another element to the sitcom. As far as the characters go, the most central characters would be obviously Flex and Breanna (played by Kyla Pratt), but Arnaz, Spirit, and Duane were also important to the show. The stories on the show were hit or miss, and some of the jokes too, but back during the prime of UPN, this was one of the better sitcoms on the network. 

5. All Of Us
(4 Seasons, 88 Episodes)

-A show based loosely on the blended family aspect of Jada and Will Smith's lives, this was a decent show that didn't leave you laughing out loud, but provided the necessary chuckles. The concept is an interesting one, even if the writing at times can be a bit spotty. Centered around Robert James (played by Duane Martin) and his relationship with his fiancee Tia (played by Elise Neal) while they balance their relationship with the joint custody Robert has of his son Bobby with his ex-wife Neesee (played by Lisa Raye). Through the show, at least the first few seasons, it managed to provide good episodes and narratives, but things took a turn for the worse when Elise Neal didn't return to the show. For comedic purposes, Tony Rock and Terri J. Vaughn added something extra as Dirk and Jonelle, making the sitcom more enjoyable, but after the departures of Elise Neal and Terri J. Vaughn, the show struggled until eventually fizzled out at the CW Network after one season.

4. In The House
(5 Seasons, 76 Episodes)

-Quite possibly the most slept on sitcom of them all, this show began on NBC and eventually made its way over to UPN before getting canceled for good in 1999. Still, despite the ratings issue and the cancellation, this was a show that I had to put on the list because it was actually enjoyable through the entire duration and run. With three seasons of the show airing on UPN, I felt it was appropriate to put it on the list, and this LL Cool J led sitcom worked best when it changed direction as Debbie Allen left the show. The UPN version of the show kept Tiffany (played by Maia Campbell) on the sitcom attending school while Marion Hill (LL) was her guardian at the time. It also introduced Kim Wayans and Alfonso Ribeiro as Tonya and Maxwell respectively, along with Lark Voorhies as Mercedes. The different narrative and stories in seasons 3-5 were all fun and while the comedy could teeter on corny, for the most part, this was a gem on the network.

3. Malcolm And Eddie
(4 Seasons, 89 Episodes)

-I once loved and hated this show. Blame it on channel surfing at night that led me to watch the old episodes on MTV, or just blame it on my nostalgia taking over, but revisiting this show made me think it wasn't quite as bad as I believed it to be. Long before the days of watching the re-runs, I remember the show being set in Eddie Griffin's real hometown of Kansas City. The yin and yang dichotomy of Malcolm and Eddie made for a lot of hilarious moments and scenes, and though the dialogue and writing was hit or miss often, it's the delivery of said dialogue and the scenarios that might inspire a few laugh out loud moments per episode. The first two seasons of the show were the best, and after season three, the show seemed to lose a bit of its edge, and would come to an end after the 4th season. Still, Malcolm and Eddie was better than I remembered and definitely a top sitcom in UPN history.

2. Moesha
(6 Seasons, 127 Episodes)

-I'll be completely honest: if I was being biased, Moesha would be the no. 1 show on my list. At the time that the show premiered, I was an avid Martin watcher and UPN had grabbed my attention with this sitcom that would become one of the biggest successes for the network. Starring huge star Brandy as the titular character, the show took you through the life of a middle class family in Leimert Park, but mostly through the eyes of Moesha. The struggle of teenage angst and growth is a central theme and while Moesha is the main character, there are so many other memorable characters on the show from Miles, her little brother to her stepmother Dee to her father Frank (most hilarious and stiff fade in the world) to her friends Hakeem, Kim, and Niecy, all the way her love interest Q (played by Fredro Starr), there was no shortage of characters that you enjoyed watching. Moesha lasted 6 seasons, and staked a claim as one of the best black shows of the 90's, even though looking back, Moesha might have been overly spoiled and not the best decision maker. Still, a show revolving around the teenage experience, family, and more can't really go TOO wrong, and it didn't (aside from the Ray J "D-Money" stories that were more laughable than serious).

1. Girlfriends
(8 Seasons, 172 Episodes)

-Could there be another choice for the no. 1 spot? Aside from Moesha, it's not even close. While Girlfriends isn't for everyone, it hit the intended audience it was supposed to, and then some. Starring four beautiful women are successful friends searching for their paths, the show was very engaging for the viewers especially women who could see a little bit of themselves in the characters. Some could relate to Joan (played by Tracee Ellis Ross), others could relate to the down to earth vibe of Maya (played by Golden Brooks), some saw themselves in the shallow yet honest Toni (played by Jill Marie Jones), and a few saw themselves as Lynn (played by Persia White). For us, the men who were either forced to watch the show with their lady or caught a few episodes in passing, characters like Darnell (played mostly by Khalil Kain) and William (played by Reggie Hayes) at least made the show somewhat enjoyable with their humor and dialogue. The show would end up being one of the most successful shows on the network, and even spawned a successful spinoff of its own in The Game. When looking back at UPN, there are only a few shows that instantly come to mind and Girlfriends is likely the first, thus why it has to be ranked no. 1.


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