'Lucas Bros. Moving Company' (2013)
The animated diamond featuring Kenny and Keith Lucas landed on Fox’s Animation Domination High-Def slot in 2013 before FXX picked up the show in 2014. As a two-man moving company in Brooklyn, the Lucas brothers go on wild adventures while avoiding their mother (voiced by Hannibal Buress) and hanging with their bartender pal/former FUBU model Jerrod (voiced by Jerrod Carmichael).
The stoner comedy takes a shot at black comedy with hip-hop references and stabs at the sitcoms of the past. Action Bronson voiced a sandwich mob boss and Danny Brown plays a bearded, psychedelic mushroom-eating Rastafarian named Jumanji.
Due to Fox ending their ADHD broadcasting, the show was later picked up and delivered as shorts on FXX. You can discover a good batch of episodes on Hulu, just in time for 4/20 SZN.
Before Damon Wayans ruled ABC with My Wife & Kids, he starred on Damon, a show centered around his job as an undercover cop. His best friend Bernard (David Allen Grier) was a sappy rent-a-cop and Stacy (Melissa De Sousa), the sultry love interest (and sometimes undercover partner) of Damon’s. The comedian’s quick zingers were before their time, including his choice to rock whiteface while impersonating a mob boss.
Ratings played into the demise of the show, but thank goodness the comedian continued to thrive with his future sitcom and produce more Wayans offspring like Damon Wayans Jr.
Created by Larry Wilmore and Eddie Murphy, The PJs was the show you watched as a kid and didn’t get the adult-rated jokes until later in life. Thurgood (Eddie Murphy and later, Phil Morris) ran the “Lawrence Hilton Jacobs” projects with his wife Mureil Stubbs (Loretta Devine) by his side.
The show had a troubled run thanks to criticism from the NAACP and Spike Lee who claimed the show aimed at black stereotypes with references on welfare, drug addicts and lower class life. Plus, jokes about Paul Robeson having groupies didn’t sit well with some viewers. Wilmore argued that the show was a representation of his childhood but later changed Thurgood’s habits like his excessive love for malt liquor. Regardless of the switch-ups, the show continued to push boundaries with it’s writing and strong characters. The show has found a new home on YouTube with millions of views.
Sure family sitcoms from the Big 4 filed up the VCR’s and TiVo’s of the past two decades, but cable networks were slowly coming around to the idea of original programming. Enter Hey Monie!, an animated show that aired on BET for just one season. Centered around the typical working woman theme, Monie worked at a PR company and played the original awkward Black girl.
Her roommate and best friend Yvette made her social life more than lively as Monie found love in and out of the workplace. Some of the series noted voices were comedy duo Frangela, comedian Dean Edwards and the one and only Oprah Winfrey.
Legendary actress Diahann Carroll stared in Julia, a show credited with featuring a black actor outside of a stereotypical role. The series was groundbreaking since it presented Julia Baker (Carroll) as a working woman while managing motherhood and a dating life. The premise might seem simple, but basic elements were unheard of during the 60’s for African-American actors. It was also one of the first shows that didn’t have laugh track, because realness.
Speaking on the series in 2009, Carroll says she was hurt by the harsh criticism the show received in the first season, so much so that she was hospitalized for “stress.” She also said she was glad to take on the role of Julia, no matter how corny or campy the show was. Oddly, the cheesy goodness of Julia was the go-to formula for shows in the 80’s (Facts of Life) the 90’s (every sitcom created) and the 2000’s (Modern Family).
'Malcolm & Eddie' (1996-2000)
We can thank Full House creator Jeff Franklin his producing duties on Malcolm and Eddie, a show proving that opposites do attract. The fellas would wrestle almost everything from winning the lottery to mastering pool with the late Richard Pryor.
At the time, comedy duos relating to a younger audience were few and far in between, but their chemistry was almost organic as they threw jokes and insane scenarios back and forth. Luckily, episodes from season 2 can be found on Crackle.
'The Parent ‘Hood' (1995-1999)
Sitcoms like The Cosby Show and Family Matters helped paved the way for the Petersons from Harlem. The family sitcom focused on the upper middle-class family with funny men like Wendell (Faizon Love) and Kelly (Kelly Perine) keeping them in tact.
The show helped launched the WB network along with The Wayans Bros. and Unhappily Ever After. In it’s later seasons it followed the formula of injecting life lessons and social awareness into its plots like domestic violence, gang affliction and gun violence. Take a look at the series final episode featuring a certain Atlanta housewife above.
'In the House' (1995-1999)
The sitcom, starring LL Cool J, Maia Campbell and Debbie Allen, was full of laughs and shenanigans. With LL taking a splash into acting, the then-rap star took on the role of former athlete Marion Hill who becomes a mammy to Jackie Warren’s (Allen) kids. The show shifted gears through its five seasons (and networks), but kept the central theme of family togetherness and quick wit.
The connection to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air also helped with the show’s central characters, due to Winfred Hervey’s creation of both shows. The series also helped project LL’s leap into more films and stretched out UPN’s long run of African-American series like The Steve Harvey Show, Sister, Sister and Moesha.
'Homeboys In Outer Space' (1996-1997)
The soldiers of fortune were made up of duo Ty (Flex Washington) and Morris (Darryl M.Bell,) who took odd jobs across the galaxy. Sure the premise was out there, but with sci-fi shows like Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek taking off, the good folks at UPN (now the CW) thought a parody of the genre would be a hit.
The series lasted one season and only five out of the 21 episodes are alive on the web. The guys are loveable losers and seem to find grief everywhere they turn. The show has landed on a few “worst” sitcoms lists over the years, but storylines like the people of the planet “Caucasia” viewing George Jefferson as a God earns a few laughs from us.