The Wayans Bros TV show is a classic black sitcom that helped launched a television network in the mid 90’s created by and starring real life brothers Shawn and Marlon Wayans that played a major role in black television in its time.
Coming from black Hollywood’s first family of comedy, The Wayans, Shawn and Marlon play brothers from Harlem living their entrepreneurial dream. Shawn owns a small newsstand, where he and his brother work while Marlon also moonlights as an aspiring actor. And next door to their newsstand is Pops’ Joint, the restaurant owned by their father, “Pops” ( played by the late great John Witherspoon). Add a sassy security guard Dee Baxter (Anna Maria Horsford) and all kinds of hilarity ensues. The chemistry between Shawn and Marlon with them being real brothers always shown threw on the show making their scenes together that much funnier.
The Wayans Bros. aired from January 11, 1995, to May 20, 1999 producing 101 episodes. It was a historic show as it was the first of the four sitcoms that aired as part of the original Wednesday night two hour lineup that helped launch The WB network in 1995 (along with Unhappily Ever After, The Parent ‘Hood and Muscle).
The series ended in 1999 and was unfortunately not given a proper finale. In their #CultureClassic horror spoof film Scary Movie, Shawn Wayans’ character goes into an impromptu diatribe about the show. He decries “And The Wayans Bros. was a good show, man…and we didn’t even get a final episode.”
One of the calling cards of the show is it’s opening. It begins with the brothers on the steps of a brownstone rocking afros and 70s preppy attire. They start dancing in rhythm to a satirical song mimicking music a throwback “urban” sitcom theme song. “We’re happy and we’re singing and we’re colored.” as the song goes. This inetuon is to satirize how white Hollywood wants it’s black actors to be portrayed. The intro then switches into the real opening cutting to the brothers in their normal clothes accompanied by the classic hip-hop joint “Electric Relaxation” by A Tribe Called Quest.
Following in the footsteps of great creators for The Culture Keneen Ivory Wayans and Damon Wayans, Shawn and Marlon continued their familie’s tradition of making funny television their way. With no compromises The Wayans Bros. was a show that represented for The Culture and is therefore, a true Culture Classic.
In the final two seasons, the show’s theme song was changed to a hip hop instrumental which was produced by Shawn and Marlon with an assist from actor Omar Epps).
NBC originally ordered the pilot for the series and Danny Glover was the network’s original choice to play Pops. But the Wayans brothers resisted and fought for John Witherspoon knowing he was the right man for the job. NBC decided not to pick up the show and the brothers moved over to The WB bringing Witherspoon with them.
We hope you enjoyed our look back at the classic Wayans Bros TV show. Check out some of our other TV #CultureClassics:
Written by @TalentedMrFord