‘The Hughleys’ (1998-2002)
Two decades before Black-ish tackled a similar premise, The Hughleys featured a family that lives in a predominantly white neighborhood — in this case, after the dad, played by D.L. Hughley, develops the family’s vending machine business to the point that the family can move out of south Central Los Angeles. Trying to fit in while remaining true to their roots leads to some funny interactions with his white and Korean neighbors.
‘Kenan & Kel’ (1996-2000)
Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell were Nickelodeon‘s first black sitcom stars, having landed their own show when producers saw them joking around on the set of All That when they were series regulars. Their chemistry made for a very funny show about the pair’s hijinks and escapades, and the show also launched the career of Kenan, who is now on Saturday Night Live.
NBC/Quincy Jones-David Salzman Entertainment
‘In The House’ (1995-1999)
It wasn’t the world’s best sitcom, but hey, LL Cool J has always been a snack. We got our fill watching him in In The House, playing a former professional football star who has to rent out rooms in his mansion to make ends meet.
Buena Vista Television/Disney Channel
‘The Famous Jett Jackson’ (1998-2001)
This show had just 65 episodes but has a special place in our hearts as the first Disney Channel show to feature a black actor as the lead. The immensely talented and magnetic Lee Thompson Young starred as Jett Jackson, a kid who tries to live a normal life when he’s not filming. Thompson tragically died at age 29, after struggling with bipolar disorder and depression, but the heartwarming show lives on.
WB Television Network
‘The Jamie Foxx Show’ (1996-2001)
Fresh off the groundbreaking comedy sketch show In Living Color and before he becoming an movie star, Jamie Foxx starred as an aspiring actor who works at his relatives’ hotel. The laughs are kinda cheap in The Jamie Foxx Show (who doesn’t need that every once in a while?), but there are some memorable moments in which Jamie and guest stars sing and play onstage together — which actually foreshadow Jamie’s Oscar-winning role as Ray Charles in the movie Ray.
WB Television Network
‘The Wayans Bros.’ (1995-1999)
In Living Color, it’s not, but this sitcom from younger Wayans siblings Shawn and Marlon is still simple fun that doesn’t require too many brain cells — and that can be a good thing. So, despite being canceled abruptly after five seasons and not given a chance to wrap up the series, The Wayans Bros. has lived on and on in syndication, a favorite whenever we catch it while flipping channels. It centers around the brothers characters (Shawn is the conservative one, Marlon — what else — the clown), who live in Harlem and are just trying to make it in this world. It may not be Emmy-winning material, but it’s still a great de-stressor.
‘The Parent ‘Hood’ (1995-1999)
One of the four original Wednesday night shows that helped launched the WB (The Wayans Bros was another), this is one of the black ’90s sitcoms that are available on several streaming services (Hulu, YouTubeTV, Stars). In Cosby Show*-esque manner, *The Parent ‘Hood featured an upper middle class family made up of a college professor (Robert Townsend), his law-student wife, and their four kids. What sets the show apart are the whimsical fantasy sequences that the dad dreams up to help him solve family issues in a creative and unexpected way.
‘The Parkers’ (1999-2004)
It’s no surprise that one of the most down-to-earth black sitcoms from the ’90s starred Mo’Nique as a single mom who dropped out of high school to raise her baby. When her grown daughter (Countess Vaughn, playing the same character she did on Moesha) starts college, so does she. The story of their evolving relationship as students and adults leads to a lot of laughs, and so does any time that Mo’Nique lets her salty tongue loose on someone.
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Image
Before Charles S. Dutton went on to win three Emmys for his work on other shows, he starred in this underrated and brief series that was fairly typical sitcom until the second season, which aired each episode live. Roc was a treat because Dutton and several of the other cast members were trained stage actors.