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There’s no denying that Black sitcoms are among the most powerful and influential shows to ever grace the small screen. Known for pushing barriers and tackling deep issues with smart humor, they all shed some needed light on Black perspectives, proving that the community is just as compelling as they are colorful and complex. But more importantly, they've also proven to be timeless—though it's worth noting that certain things from the '90s haven't aged very well (because of course, different era). Still, we can all agree that a lot of these shows still hold up today because of how they tackled deep issues through comedy. See below for 32 of the best Black sitcoms and where to stream them.
1. ‘Living Single’
Whether it’s Regine sniping at Max for freeloading or Synclaire confessing her love for Troll dolls, there’s never a dull moment when it comes to this captivating group. For those who are unfamiliar, it follows the personal and professional lives of six Black friends, including our imaginary BFFs, Khadijah (Queen Latifah), Synclaire (Kim Coles), Max (Erika Alexander) and Regine (Kim Fields). Prepare for all the laughs.
2. ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’
We confess, we’ve definitely tried to mimic the Carlton dance on more than one occasion. But Alfonso Ribeiro’s fancy footwork is just one of many things that make this show special. It’s filled with so many likable, multifaceted characters and it tackles quite a few complex topics, from interracial marriage to gender stereotyping. Plus, Will (Will Smith)’s roasting sessions are a major bonus.
It’s wild, it’s silly and it’s packed with snarky comebacks that are sure to elicit the deepest belly laughs. This classic ‘90s show centers on the daily life of Martin Payne (Martin Lawrence), an ambitious radio host, his girlfriend, Gina Waters (Tisha Campbell) and their group of friends in Detroit. We're seriously impressed that Lawrence plays nine different characters on the show, but it's worth noting that Martin's treatment of Gina and quite a few of his jokes toward Pam are definitely outdated and problematic.
4. ‘The Bernie Mac Show’
Loosely based on his own life, the sitcom follows a fictionalized version of late comedian Bernie Mac as he tries to raise his sister’s three children. Even with his questionable parenting style, you can’t help but love Bernie. Whether he’s casually smoking a cigar with his boys or exchanging insults with his moody teenage niece, you can count on the comedian to keep you entertained with his unfiltered (and hysterical) commentary.
5. ‘A Different World’
We could go on for days about why A Different World is so great, from Whitley’s Southern twang to Freddie’s fiery passion for social justice, but even more importantly, ADW sheds light on the richness and diversity of the Black community. For those who are unfamiliar, it follows a group of Black students who attend the historically Black Hillman College. And as they navigate college life, we see them deal with real issues, from racism and student burnout to domestic violence.
6. ‘Sister, Sister’
It came as no surprise when Sister, Sister became Netflix’s most-watched series after hitting the streaming platform. Aside from Tia (Tia Mowry-Hardrict) and Tamera’s (Tamera Mowry-Housley) incredible tight-knit bond, there was also Lisa’s (Jackée Harry) sassy one-liners, Roger’s (Marques Houston) cheesy pick-up lines and, of course, a plethora of stellar guest stars, from Gabrielle Union to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
Black-ish creator Kenya Barris plays a fictionalized version of himself in this mockumentary-style sitcom, starring Rashida Jones, Iman Benson and Genneya Walton. Many would describe it as the edgier version of Black-ish, since it centers on the everyday lives of a wealthy Black family, but it’s also quite different. In this case, you’ll find a messy and deeply dysfunctional family who makes the Johnsons look like saints. And of course, there’s no shortage of funny one-liners.
8. ‘My Wife & Kids’
If you loved Tisha Campbell in Martin, then allow us to introduce your newest obsession, My Wife & Kids. It revolves around the upper middle-class Kyle family, including Jay (Campbell), Michael (Damon Wayans) and their three children. Not only is it filled with laugh-out-loud moments, but also, Jay is just as smart and captivating as the Gina Waters we all know and love. Plus, there are definitely some similarities to The Bernie Mac Show, since Michael is known for his unique parenting methods (like playing cruel pranks on his kids to teach them a lesson).
This brilliant series, which follows a rich Black family who struggles to keep their Black identity in a predominantly white space, is by far one of the best shows on the air. It expertly balances humor with serious and relevant themes, pulling no punches when it comes to the more unsettling parts of being Black and America today.
Fun fact: Not only did Girlfriends center on four complex Black ladies, but also, the series was created by a Black woman and had Black women writers. It definitely explains why the characters felt so authentic and why the show resonated so deeply with Black viewers, covering issues like cultural appropriation and colorism while delivering the biggest laughs.
11. ‘The Wayans Bros.’
Before they graced our screens in the Scary Movie films, Shawn and Marlon Wayans starred in this classic sitcom as brothers who live together in Harlem—and it’s impossible to watch a single episode without laughing uncontrollably. Marlon is a master at slapstick comedy and Shawn is smoother than silk when it comes to the ladies, but you’ll especially enjoy their silly exchanges with their dad, Pops (John Witherspoon).
12. ’The Cosby Show’
Though the series has become controversial after Bill Cosby’s fall from grace, there’s no denying the show’s profound impact and timelessness. This sitcom, which revolved around the Huxtable family, gave the world an extremely rare look at a successful Black family—where both parents are present—and paved the way for several other influential sitcoms, including A Different World.
Very few things are as entertaining as watching Moesha (Brandy Norwood) and her pals gossip about boys while hanging at The Den. Join the aspiring writer as she deals with the ups and downs of adolescent life with her tight-knit family and friends.
14. ‘The Parkers’
A spin-off of Moesha, The Parkers centers on Moesha’s friend, Kim Parker (Countess Vaughn) and her mom, Nikki (Mo'Nique), as they attend Santa Monica College. Naturally, Kim is just as bubbly and boy-crazy, and the chemistry between Vaughn and Mo’Nique is phenomenal, but what stands out most is the show’s depiction of body positivity and self-confidence.
15. ‘Family Matters’
As much as we loved following the Winslows, a lovable middle-class Black family in Chicago, we especially enjoyed watching our favorite accident-prone nerd, Steve Urkel (Jaleel White). The Perfect Strangers spin-off taught millions of viewers about the value of family and offered some insight into what it's like to be a Black cop in Chicago.
16. ‘Smart Guy’
Tahj Mowry’s brilliant portrayal of T.J. Henderson made it so easy to love the smug little genius. Plus, his single father, Floyd (John Marshall Jones), has a heart of gold and does a phenomenal job of instilling the right values in his three kids. Follow T.J.’s high school adventures along with his colorful older siblings Marcus (Jason Weaver) and Yvette (Essence Atkins).
17. ‘The Jamie Foxx Show’
Fun fact: Even though this sitcom wasn’t a huge success, it helped launch the careers of Jamie Foxx and Garcelle Beauvais. Foxx plays aspiring musician Jamie King, who moves to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment. To make ends meet, he works at his family's hotel, King's Tower, where snappy comebacks and sneaky, over-the-top schemes abound.
18. ‘The Steve Harvey Show’
Before he became the face of Family Feud, Steve Harvey starred in his own sitcom as Steve Hightower, a former entertainer who becomes a music teacher at Booker T. Washington High School in Chicago. On the series, he works alongside Coach Cedric Robinson (Cedric the Entertainer), his longtime best friend, and his former classmate, Principal Regina Grier (Wendy Raquel Robinson). Fair warning: It’s very likely that “When the funk hits the fan” will be stuck in your head at some point.
19. ‘The Jeffersons’
Join George (Sherman Hemsley) and Louise Jefferson (Isabel Sanford) as they enjoy their deluxe apartment in the sky, during the '70s, complete with a wisecracking maid and dimwitted British neighbor. George’s explosive temper and sharp commentary is quite the contrast to Louise’s generosity and patience, but it’s always so fascinating to see how they complement each other.
20. ‘Good Times’
It was the first Black sitcom to ever feature a family that includes both parents, and while the family had to grapple with poverty, the series still highlighted Black joy. The groundbreaking series, which aired in the '70s, delivered on humor, but never shied away from more serious issues, including child abuse, gang violence and discrimination.
21. ‘Chewing Gum’
This brilliant British sitcom follows the misadventures of 24-year-old Tracey Gordon (Michaela Coel), a religious store assistant who's eager to find herself and explore to world. It's quite different from Michaela Coel's poignant drama, I May Destroy You, but Cole is just as compelling in this charming sitcom.
22. ‘That’s So Raven’
Raven-Symoné is a comedic genius, and this series is all the proof we need. Not only did it make history on Disney Channel by becoming the first show to air 100 episodes, but it also inspired two amazing spinoffs: Cory in the House and Raven's Home. Relive her wild shenanigans with her two BFFs and mischievous little brother as she deals with her psychic powers.
23. ‘Everybody Hates Chris’
Inspired by the real-life of comedian Chris Rock, who also narrates the series, Everybody Hates Chris centers on a young teen who finds himself in a series of unfortunate situations while dealing with a dysfunctional family and attending an all-white school during the ‘80s. All he wants is to be cool, but of course, this doesn’t come easily.
24. ‘Kenan & Kel’
There are so many reasons to love this show. The way Kel (Kel Mitchell) looks at a bottle of orange soda. The way Kenan’s (Kenan Thompson) eyes light up when he plans his next get rich quick scheme. The way he yells “Whyyyyyyyy?!” when Kel screws something up (which is all the time, really). We could never get tired of seeing these two close-knit friends embark on new adventures.
25. ‘Sanford and Son’
Meet Fred G. Sanford (Red Foxx), the quick-witted old man with virtually no filter—or better yet, another version of Archie Bunker. The fact that Fred could literally sit in one spot and keep fans entertained is pretty impressive, but it's his complicated relationship with his son, Lamont, that makes this show so compelling.
26. ‘Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper’
Set in Oakland, California, Mark Curry stars as the charming Mark Cooper, a former athlete turned high school gym teacher who's got a knack for pulling the ultimate pranks. The show may give you Three’s Company vibes, since the character lives with two gorgeous women. In this case though, he actually ends up in a romantic relationship with one of his roommates.
Dive into the fascinating backstory of Bow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross), aka one of the best characters on Black-ish. Throughout the series, you’ll learn about her experiences with growing up in a mixed-race family and how she learned to navigate a world that sees her as neither fully Black nor white.
28. ‘Family Reunion’
The Netflix comedy centers on the McKellan family, who move to Columbus, Georgia in order to be closer to their relatives. Naturally, this reunion is packed with awkward moments due to clashing lifestyles, but can they still make it work?
29. ‘Instant Mom’
Simply put, if Mowry-Hardrict is starring in any sitcom at all, we’ll be there, front row and center. The actress plays Stephanie, a fun-loving food blogger whose life is turned upside down when she falls for Charlie Phillips (Michael Boatman), an older man with three kids.
30. ‘The Last O.G.’
Tracy Morgan is ex-con Tray Leviticus Barker, who's in for quite a surprise when he gets released from prison after 15 years. When he returns to a gentrified neighborhood and discovers that his ex-girlfriend (played by Tiffany Haddish) is married to someone else, he decides to make a genuine effort to become a better man.
31. ‘One on One’
Flex, or shall we say the “Fladap” man, is a successful sportscaster and ladies’ man who struggles to raise his outspoken daughter, Breanna, as a single dad in Baltimore. It’s always heartwarming to see how this daddy-daughter relationship evolves.
After living in her cozy little bubble, Andre and Bow’s oldest daughter, Zoey (Yara Shahidi), heads off to college and quickly learns that her journey to adulthood is going to be far from simple. It’s impossible to resist the timely commentary, the love triangles and, of course the talented cast.