On July 29, 2020 the Netflix affiliated Instagram account, Strong Black Lead, announced the arrival of seven classic African American shows to the platform. The first title out of the seven to start streaming on August 1st was UPN's Moesha, which originally aired in January of 1996. The Game, Girlfriends, Sister, Sister, The Parkers, Half & Half, and One on One are the remaining six titles set to air from August 15th through October 15th on the streaming site. This announcement broke the internet, as children of the 80s and 90s rejoiced over the return of the beloved shows from their childhood or young adulthood. I was included in the millions of fans celebrating on Twitter, Instagram, and group messages about the news.
For years people of color have asked major streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu to air shows from our past. Shows that represent the beauty of African American and minority culture. These shows helped us feel less alone growing up. The characters we watched on our TV screens looked like us, dressed like us, and talked like us. And as we all know, representation truly does matter - especially to young children. Being able to talk to your friends, cousins, and classmates about what happened on the last episode of any of these series was one of the best parts of school growing up.
Although many of these shows aired before I really began watching television, when I was able to access them, I fell in love. Growing up I loved Roger & Hammerstein's rendition of Cinderella, starring Brandy and Whitney Houston. I really didn't identify with any other princess but Brandy back then, so when I was able to watch reruns of Moesha as I got older, I was so excited to see the singer in another publicized role. Sister, Sister reruns were one of my favorite things about my childhood. I fell in love with Tia & Tamera's curly hair and amazing fashion sense. I always thought that when I finally got to college, my experience would be like theirs, but with less wacky shenanigans.
One on One made high school seem like one of the best parts of life growing up. When I was finally old enough to understand, The Game, it made me interested in sports in a new way. The Parkers reruns always made me laugh, and I also loved the fashion seen throughout the series. Although I didn't watch many episodes of Girlfriends and Half & Half when I was younger, I'm excited to be able to stream the shows and continue to support the hardworking actors and actresses soon.
Overall, being able to go back and watch these shows that played a major role in my childhood and tweendom is so refreshing. Today, there aren't many sitcoms that level up to the humor and excellence written into the scripts of the past. As a future media professional, I strive to create content similar to some of these throwback shows one day. If you haven't already watched these series, I recommend popping some popcorn and sitting down to start them on their release dates. Happy streaming!