Guys, I have a confession to make.
After binge-watching the same five TV shows for months, I completely ignored my list of new recommendations and moved on to an old sitcom that most people have never seen or heard of. Critics have called it "uninspired" and "somewhat stale." And currently, the short-lived series has a 33 percent score on the Tomatometer—but after watching it for myself, I’d say that this sitcom is a highly underrated gem. What show is this, you ask?
Allow me to introduce you to the ‘90s sitcom, Between Brothers (or as I like to call it, the remixed version of Living Single). Set in Chicago, the show centers on four middle-class Black men in their twenties. The tight-knit group includes sports writer Charles Winston (Kadeem Hardison), his playboy brother, James Winston (Dondré T. Whitfield), their freeloading friend, Mitchell Ford (Tommy Davidson), and meteorologist Dusty Canyon (Kelly Perine). While these men have very different personalities, they consistently support each other as they deal with the challenges of their personal and professional lives.
Since there are only two seasons, I flew through the entire series in less than a week. And from the stellar casting to the laugh-out-loud moments, I genuinely feel like this show deserves a lot more credit. Read on to see why.
1. Kadeem Hardison
I'll admit it: Hardison is the main reason why I decided to watch this show, and it’s not just because he’s easy on the eyes. I absolutely love how he portrayed his character, Dwayne Wayne, on A Different World because Dwayne not only embodied ambition, but he also made intelligence look cool. So when I discovered that Hardison was in this sitcom, a small part of me hoped that I’d see a bit of Dwayne in Charles’s personality. And thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.
Right off the bat, I noticed some interesting parallels between Dwayne the math whiz and Charles the passionate sports journalist. For one, both men have a goofy side. They know how to have fun and they have no shame in roasting their friends in public, but at the same time, they’re the loyal and level-headed ones in their friend group. On Between Brothers, whenever I saw shared scenes between Charles and his irresponsible brother, James, I was often reminded of Dwayne’s dynamic with Ron. It almost felt as if I were watching older versions of the Hillman grads live together as single men.
2. The chemistry between the cast is amazing
First off, can I take a moment to appreciate the brilliance of this cast? Aside from Hardison, there’s Davidson, who’s well known for his funny skits on the iconic ‘90s sketch show, In Living Color. Then there’s Whitfield, AKA Remy from OWN’s Queen Sugar, and One on One's Kelly Perine. Talk about an impressive lineup.
But that said, the bond between the main characters feels very genuine on this show. I love that they’re comfortable enough around each other to poke fun at things like Dusty’s colorful weatherman suits and James’s laundry-list of romantic interests. And I love listening to their discussions when they meet up at the local bar, whether it be about Charles’s latest story or Mitchell’s issues with his second wife. The chemistry is simply amazing.
3. ‘Between Brothers’ had so much potential
Were there a few jokes that fell flat? Well, yes. Were some of the episodes a bit predictable? Absolutely. But you know what? With such a strong and talented cast, this show just might've taken off with a more diverse team of seasoned comedy writers. Or better yet, writers who actually lived the experiences on the show.
I’ll put it this way: Imagine if A Different World ended after its first season. At the time, it was met with some of the harshest reviews from critics, who went as far as calling it “awful,” “bland” and “unfunny.” But when Debbie Allen, an actual HBCU grad, took over in season two, the show had undergone a complete makeover and it became a major hit. Who’s to say that the same couldn’t have happened for Between Brothers? What if, like ADW, it evolved into an even better sitcom that expertly balanced humor with issues like police brutality and toxic masculinity? See, the potential was always there. But after just two short seasons, the show never got the chance to reach that point.
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