WIRTB Review: Sister, Sister

Growing up, I was a fan of the show Sister, Sister. This is partly because it was tweeny gobbledygook that interested me (even though, a good portion of it never actually applied to me). However, it was mostly because I wanted Tamara Mowry (there's a little Roger inside of us all. Even when we're told to "go home" time and time again, if there's something there that isn't just about your loins, you stay and somehow manage to actually be a halfway decent friend). See, my "thing" for nerdy/quirky light-skinned women began early.

If Roger was one of the original thirsty-ass niggas, wouldn't that make
Tamera and/or Tia one of the original (unintentional) thirst buckets?

Now, this series is one that'll probably never get listed in a top-five list. This is mainly because of its corniness. If I had to describe Sister, Sister without bias, I'd say it was 7th Heaven meets The Cosby Show meets The Brady Bunch minus any sort of tact any of those shows had, plus the idea of long-lost twins reconnecting randomly. The show partly suffers because it had a severe case of "been there, done that" in its first and last seasons. So, it begs the question: is my guilty pleasure 1990s sitcom really that bad?

The premise of the show is spelled out in its theme song, a la almost every sitcom between the 1960s and the 1990s. Two twins, Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell were switched at birth (no, one didn't end up deaf, although that would've been kind of cool) and ended up being adopted by two different families. Tia went to get-rich-quick-schemer-with-plans-that-could-actually-work-if-she-had-the-cash Lisa Landry, played by Jackee Harry. Tamera went to well-to-do limo service owner Ray Campbell, played by Tim Reid, best known for, with most of our generation, as the husband of "Aunt Viv 2" on Fresh Prince. They got into lots of shenanigans and grew up together through them, as did everyone around them. Bonus points for the theme using the word "synchronicity" in what was pretty much a kid's show, though. 

The first season spent most its time playing around with tropes--and subscribing to them (and horribly so). This renders this potentially fun "Black Parent Trap" relatively toothless and without direction. It could've been a witty dissection of what it meant to be twins and subverted many of the tropes associated with "twinsies" and black teenagers in the early 1990s. But, it got comfortable in poorly rehashing better plots--and thus, got cancelled by ABC, only to be picked up by The WB.

As the series went on, we thankfully got direction. Tia and Tamera's random group of friends (including the late Brittany Murphy) shrank and were focused on less and less, aside from a core few (including "Diavian," played by Alexis Fields). We got less "will they, won't they?" moments between Lisa and Ray, who moved on to other people. Roger became less of a pervy creeper and more of a...regular creeper who had good intentions. The series even managed to create its own spin-off, Smart Guy, featuring Tahj Mowry (Tia and Tamera's brother) as a super-genius kid (it was the '90s; that was a thing). Hell, we even got social commentary. It wasn't "TO HELL WITH HIM" levels of commentary, but what is?

And, then, we got to the final season. 

The final season seemed to throw all that the show'd worked for over the three-to-four years it wasn't scraping the bottom right out the window. We got to see Tia and Tamera's very real, very white dad who ends up taking Tamera on a photo exhibition through Africa (or something). Lisa gets married and Roger (now of IMX, nee Immature) sings at her wedding. We got last-season-of-Roseanne-levels of wackiness, but without the lottery subplot (or, y'know, the finale which made it all worth it). Freaknik is explained to white America in an inoffensive way, by having Mya and Blackstreet sing that one song they did on the Rugrats movie soundtrack

And it gets wackier. Tia and Tamera, strong female characters, get reduced to women who just want "luh and affection." Hell, we see Tia (the "smart" one) fawning over Mr. "Lemme Show You How Your Pussy Works," Brian McKnight, who plays, I shit you not, a college professor! Oh, and did I forget to mention the various other subplots that say people come and go for no reason other than to say "hey, there are more people in Detroit than just Tia, Tamera, Lisa, and Ray." All in all, the final season of Sister, Sister kind of negates what could've been a good sitcom, not even just a good black one. Plus, there is/was the whole issue of it being too inoffensive to the point where it because offensive. For instance, the show takes place in 1990s Detroit, but everything looks like it's Boy Meets World Philly mixed with a little bit of FPoBA Bel-Air. But, let's not get into that. Not today, at least. 

So, was my crush on Tamera (and Tia, but mostly Tamera) enough to save this show?

But somehow, even with its many many flaws, it lives on. Because, yes, it was bad. And, yes, at points, it really was that bad. But, it endears. I'm not sure if it's on Netflix or Amazon Instant Video or wherever. But, as hokey and corny it is, it's worth a couple watches. Just don't stay for any whole season--and avoid the last one entirely. Act as if the series ends with season five.


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