When you talk about influence. When you talk about Black Girl Magic. When you talk about all-time great black television shows. You’re talking about the #CultureClassic Living Single.
Living Single is a tv show centered around six smart, funny, ambitious, and just cool black friends living in Brooklyn in the 90’s. The show was the brainchild of creator for The Culture Yvette Lee Bowser, (she also created the show Half & Half and is a show runner for Dear White People). Her initial goal was to create a show about her and her friends that would help change the standard portrayals of young Black people on TV. Bowser wanted to portray Black characters in a positive and less stereotypical light. And on a personal note, she also noted that the women represented on Living Single are four different sides of her.
“I’ve been as ditsy as Synclaire, as superficial as Regine, as bitter as Max and as focused and driven as Khadijah.”– Yvette Lee Bowser
The star-studded cast was made up of Queen Latifah as Khadijah James, editor and publisher of Flavor Magazine, an independent magazine devoted to the interests of the urban community (and adeptly named after Latifah’s real life entertainment company). Kim Coles as Synclaire James, Khadijah’s good-natured cousin and roommate; receptionist at Flavor and aspiring actress. Erika Alexander as Maxine Shaw, strong-willed attorney, Khadijah’s best friend. John Henton as Overton “Obie” Wakefield Jones, Kyle’s roommate and the brownstone’s handyman; Synclaire’s love interest and eventual husband. Kim Fields as Regina “Regine” Hunter, Khadijah and Synclaire’s gossip-loving roommate; Khadijah’s childhood friend. T.C. Carson as Kyle Barker, Overton’s roommate and stockbroker; Max’s verbal sparring partner and on-again, off-again boo thing.
To say the cast had chemistry would be an understatement. The friendships, rivalries, and love connections were so well written and acted that black audiences instantly felt connections to the characters and what they were going through. The show aired of Fox for five seasons (1993 – 1998) and is comprised of 118 episodes. And there are too many classic episodes and moments to name all here. From Khadijah dreaming that the girls are a ’60s singing group. To Max’s classic reaction to Kyle’s serenade. Every character had signature moments and lines that are remembered to this day. Oh and the theme was a bop performed by Queen Latifah herself too.
Bowser’s mission to create positive and aspirational black characters was a success with the added bonus of making one of the most beloved and influential TV shows of all-time. Girlfriends, Sex in the City, and even Friends owe a lot to the #CultreClassic that is Living Single.
During the third season of the UPN sitcom Half & Half (also created by Bowser) Erika Alexander and T.C. Carson reprised their roles of Maxine Shaw and Kyle Barker. In the episode (“The Big Performance Anxiety Episode”, third season), ambitious law student Dee Dee learns that her mother’s co-star in a play (Kyle) is engaged to Maxine, Dee Dee’s idol. The major takeaway from the episode is that Maxine and Kyle remained a couple and were the proud parents of their seven-year-old daughter named Kyla and bringing even more closure to the Living Single TV show.
Make sure you check out more of our TV #CultureClassics
Written by @TalentedMrFord