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Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Black Sitcom-A Lost Art Form

The Black sitcom. Thirty minutes where brothers and sisters escaped their lives and shared a laugh or two with people who looked like them. Over the course of a half-hour viewers were entertained, and learned a valuable life lesson or two.

Currently the Black sitcom as a form of entertainment is almost extinct. Almost thirty years since the debut of The Cosby Show ushered in the golden age of African-American sitcoms, and almost fifty years since Julia debuted, Black sitcoms are almost nonexistent on broadcast and Cable airwaves. With the exception of Tyler Perry, no one is producing sitcoms revolving around African-American performers or featuring a predominantly Black cast.

I have to wonder is it because of a lack of African-American performers? Is it because of a lack of African writers? Creators? A lack of producers willing to invest in African-American productions? Or is it because African-American performers don’t know how to tell a joke anymore? Or is it ratings?

I doubt it has anything to do with ratings. Black sitcoms have consistently been successful since their inception. Classics like Julia, Good Times, Sanford & Son , The Jeffersons, and What’s Happening were solid performers ratings wise back in the day. The Cosby Show single-handedly took NBC from last place to first place on Thursday nights, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air always won its time slot on Monday Nights. FOX established itself as a network on hits like In Living Color, Martin, Roc, and Living Single while the WB began building a strong audience on sitcoms like The Wayans Bros, and The Steve Harvey Show, Sister, Smart Guy, and The Jamie Foxx show.

Even in the last days of Black sitcoms on broadcast television shows like The Game and Girlfriends were top rated, doing better numbers than WB or CW’s teen dramas. And Disney’s That’s So Raven was the highest-rated sitcom on the cable network when it was on the air.

I know there is a demand for African-American sitcoms. A starving audience of brothers and sisters are hungry for the next big black sitcom. But who is going to produce them? Oprah? Tyler Perry? Shawn James?

Shawn James?

I’d love to produce a TV show and get brothers and sisters working. More importantly I’d love to do something to get positive images of brothers and sisters onscreen on a regular basis again Unfortunately, I don’t have the millions needed to finance a TV show or even produce a pilot.

So until I can get the money to make my own TV show, brothers and sisters will have to settle for a paperback.

One of the reasons I wrote All About Nikki- The Fabulous First Season was to give young brothers and sisters the sitcom the networks won’t produce for us. I know a lot of brothers and sisters want a laugh right now and I want to give them stories that will put a smile on their faces.

I also wrote the book to inspire younger brothers and sisters learn how to create scripts for their own sitcoms. Currently out of all the screenwriters in Hollywood, two percent are African-American. And a smaller number than that are working. There’s a desperate need for more brothers and sisters behind the camera. And in order for those brothers and sisters to find work behind the camera, they have to learn proper structure and form when they write their scripts.

I believe the medium of African-American sitcoms still has a lot of life in it. I also believe there’s an audience of viewers eager to watch Black sitcoms. From the positive response All About Nikki- The Fabulous First Season has received internationally in places like the UK, Germany, and Australia, I know there’s not just an audience here in the U.S. eager to watch the next black sitcom, but abroad as well.

1 comment:

  1. I just began to follow your blog and I must say I enjoy it already