Black sitcoms have been on television for decades now—The prince of Bel-Air is over 30 years old! – and while not as universally loved as sitcoms with less diverse cast, they do provide an in-depth look at what it’s like to exist as black in a world that doesn’t suit us.
Putting aside traditional black roles like service clerks, maids and other harmful cartoons, the black sitcom has become a portrayal that was previously undescribed. Recently, new shows have appeared that have shed even more light on the black community—Chi, Atlanta, and Unsafe, to name a few, and allowed us to show the rest of America what black culture and life really looks like.
If we’ve learned anything from HBO Max Fresh Prince of Bel-Air special meeting, it’s just as important to have a great team in the writer’s room and work on those sitcoms as it is to have a dynamic cast. Series as What is happening!!, Rock, and 227 managed to capture the true black voice. Other series, like The Wayans brothers. and Martin were shows where you just waited for someone like Pops to make you pee with laughter.
There is a rich history of representation that has brought us to where we are today. There are many shows, ranging from the 70s to the early 2000s, that took us to this level of representation, capturing black people in various lights and professions. These shows swept away the idea that their existence is unnecessary and have finally started to fill a huge void in entertainment, but that process has only just begun.
While we still have a long way to go when it comes to equal opportunity for the payment and treatment of black creative people in Hollywood, there is no denying that the skyrocketing of recent years can be attributed to these sitcoms. That being said, let’s take a look at the 30 best black sitcoms of all time.