In the 1970s and 80s, Black TV sitcoms and shows soared in popularity. With shows like “The Cosby Show” and “The Jeffersons” produced by big names like NBC, it was the birth of a new era in television, one which finally put Black characters on the big screen and which portrayed the drama and comedy of everyday and not-so-everyday life.
At the turn of the decade, with the entry of the 90s, came even more demand for similar Black TV shows. Production corporations like NBC, ABC, and FOX would develop and air numerous popular and successful shows. In 1995, another company was created that would become a hub for Black 90s sitcoms–it was called The WB.
The WB was a partnership between Warner Bros. Entertainment and Tribune Broadcasting, and during their 11 years of producing shows, they would air some of the best-known programs of the 90s. The WB shows would become like keepsakes of an era, and many remember them with fondness. Looking back down memory lane, here are the top Black TV shows aired by The WB.
“The Wayans Bros.” (1995-1999)
The WB began its broadcasting with the show “The Wayans Bros.” in January 1995. Starring real-life brothers Shawn and Marlon Wayans, along with John Witherspoon and Anna Maria Horsford, the show went on for five seasons but, unfortunately, was never given a proper ending. Due to declining ratings, the show was canceled in 1999. Nonetheless, the show continued to have reruns nearly every year, and today, VH1 airs reruns of it. You can also watch all five seasons on HBO Max and BET+.
The sitcom focuses on the two brothers of the title who go on wild escapades as they run a newsstand in Harlem. Their father owns a diner and often has to help the brothers get out of scrapes. Full of laughs, the show is a classic 90s sitcom.
“The Steve Harvey Show” (1996-2002)
Running for six seasons from 1996 to 2002, “The Steve Harvey Show” starred Steve Harvey, of course, alongside Cedric the Entertainer, Merlin Santana, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and Terri J. Vaughn.
The lead character, Steve Hightower, is a former funk legend who becomes a high school music, art, and drama teacher in Chicago. Both a coach and the principal of the school are old friends of Steve’s, and over time, Steve becomes a mentor to two of his students, Romeo Santana and Stanley Kuznocki. These relationships provide the primary material for the show.
“The Steve Harvey Show” was very popular, but by 2001, the lead, Steve, wanted to pursue other projects. Convinced to film one more season, Steve starred in the show for 13 more episodes, and then it ended. As with “The Wayans Bros.,” this show has reruns on multiple networks. You can also easily stream it on Pluto TV, Tubi, or Amazon Prime.
“The Jamie Foxx Show” (1996-2001)
Between 1996 and 2001, “The Jamie Foxx Show” ran for five seasons. Launching Jamie Foxx’s acting career, the show, which is named after him as the lead, didn’t garner incredible ratings at the time, but that was due to The WB being new and unknown. As time went on, the show became one of the staples of 90s Black TV.
“The Jamie Foxx Show” starred Jamie Foxx, Garrett Morris, Garcelle Beauvais, Christopher B. Duncan, and Ellia English. The story centers around Jamie King, an aspiring actor who goes to Los Angeles to pursue his career. While there, he works at a hotel owned by his aunt and uncle. Reruns occur occasionally, but the show can easily be streamed on HBO Max.
“The Parent ‘Hood” (1995-1999)
Next up is one of The WB’s second-ever shows to be aired, “The Parent ‘Hood.” Running from 1995 to 1999 and consisting of five seasons and 90 episodes, the show was a family-friendly sitcom in the same vein as The Cosby Show.
Starring Robert Townsend, Suzzanne Douglas, Reagan Gomez-Preston, and Curtis Williams, the show revolves around the life of Robert Peterson. Robert is a former college professor who is forced to cope with fatherhood after his wife returns to work. The laughs and fun times occur as he realizes his kids are growing up in a very different world from the one he grew up in.
“The Parent ‘Hood” can be streamed on HBO Max.
“Sister, Sister” (1994-1999)
“Sister, Sister” is a six-season show that aired between 1994 and 1999. It began its run on ABC but was later picked up by The WB. Starring real-life twins Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tamera Mowry-Housley, along with Jackée Harry and Tim Reid, the program followed the lives of fictional twins Tia and Tamera, who were separated at birth and are reunited by chance as teenagers.
Tia’s adoptive mother is a seamstress, while Tamera’s adoptive father owns a limousine service. After the twins meet, Tia and her mother move in with Tamera and her father so the girls won’t be separated. The show centers around these four characters as well as their relationships with other characters. Frequently, Tia and Tamera break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience, which is an unusual thing to do.
The show has had formal reruns on numerous networks and can now be streamed on Netflix, Hulu, or Paramount+.
“Smart Guy” (1997-1999)
Finally, we have “Smart Guy,” which aired between 1997 and 1999 and ran for three seasons. This hilarious show stars Tahj Mowry, brother of twins Tia and Tamera, mentioned above, and John Marshall Jones, Jason Weaver, and Omar Gooding.
The story revolves around T. J. Henderson, a ten-year-old child prodigy who has been moved from elementary school to high school. He has to navigate high school life as a small but smart child alongside his older brother and sister and other fellow teenage students.
“Smart Guy” can be streamed on Disney+.
Looking for More Black TV Shows?
If you’ve seen any of these shows from The WB, or if you remember the old favorites from the ‘80s, and you want more Black TV shows, check out our curated catalog of the Best Black TV Shows and Movies. In 2023, you’re probably looking for Black TV shows that are a bit more up-to-date, and BlackOakTV has them!