Benny

7 SITCOMS THAT PUT MY LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE

Benny
7 SITCOMS THAT PUT MY LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE

I don't watch television much these days. If I did watch everything I wouldn't be able to write as much as I do. I utilize streaming when I can. I just wait until a season is done of a show I think is interesting or someone recommends to me and then I watch it to it's entirety. Thank god for streaming. Another reason is it's not much I can relate to that's on television today. Reality television is in. Majority of crime shows are fucking boring to me. It's just a lot of dumb shit on these days. Thus the name "The Idiot Box" is fitting. You literally become dumber watching TV and you don't learn anything. The one thing I love about Anime is that the depth in the story lines will force me thing to question what's going on in reality and really make me think and bring out a side of creativity that helps me write. Network Television doesn't do that for me mentally. 

It's painfully obvious I don't see "Me" on television in 2016 unless I'm dancing, fighting, killing, or a side nigga. The Minstrel Show has been resurrected and it won't stop no time soon. Complaining about it is about as effective as me talking to a brick wall so I just have to have faith that my people will wake up one day. It's tough to see this today because of what I watched as a child and to see those images of positivity turn into the opposite is truly saddening. Those shows I watched put life in perspective for me, gave me hope that didn't feel outlandish, and despite being fictional with fictional people and fictional situations they would show me what "Reality" really was. 

MARTIN

The show "Martin" time frame was when he was about 26-30 years old living in Detroit, Michigan with his girlfriend Gina and their friends Tommy, Cole, and Pam. Despite being hilarious this show really taught me a lot about maintaining a relationship through many different circumstances. Martin and Gina are polar opposites. Their families are polar opposites. Totally different tastes from each other. Very different upbringings. Their views on life were very different but their differences really strengthen their love and chemistry because it's exciting. They're exposing each other to things they've never experienced and they never know what's next. You see example of this in the episode of everyone explaining and fabricating how Martin and Gina met at that uppity party. I learned about money management with a significant other. You know the Hoshi-Toshi TV episode and Martin and Gina are learning how to co-exist sharing a joint account. Learning how to share space with a woman and the sacrifices I have to make like Gina and Martin did when they finally moved in with each other. The meaning of commitment and how time doesn't wait for anyone so Martin finally proposed. I don't know if I'll ever get Brian McKnight to sing to my woman when I propose to her but I'm sure I can pull some strings and get Pretty Willie to sing "Touching It." The sitcom showed the reality (Gina and Martin breaking up and showing the cons of their differences) and the fun (Getting back together and having Super Soaker wars in their pajamas in their apartment or singing Fire and Desire together). Great balance. 

LIVING SINGLE 

There's so many great things I can say about this show to the point where my brain just gets overwhelmed. What I took from it in the end was 6 single black people all residing in Brooklyn, New York doing what they want to do with life, and finding love while being friends. I don't think we'll see a show like this for black women ever again unless we as a culture make some changes in the way black women are portrayed. I was able to understand women and gain insight on how they think because of "Living Single." Khadijah (Queen Latifah) was a college educated single black woman who owned her own business. A very important and powerful visual for a kid like me to see because I didn't see independent women like her in other sitcoms. A man was always in the picture in other shows. Nothing wrong with that but not every black woman was living like Claire Huxtable. Maxine was the lawyer that really erased societal norms on how women should date, act, and eat. Synclaire was the lovable, optimist actress. Regine was the gossiping fashionista gold digger (Gotta keep it 100). They balanced the women's personalities so that's why the show worked and that's why "Friends" bit "Living Single." Yes. I went there. They stole the wave from Living Single. Blatant copycat show.

The men we seen on the show were portrayed in a good light. You had the suave, successful, sophisticated, stock broker Kyle Barker. He wasn't wearing the latest urban fashion. Didn't use slang (Nothing wrong with slang). Stayed in a suit but stayed true to his roots. He showed me it's okay to just be yourself and have beautiful queens come through your bachelor pad to sleep on your silk sheets. He was just class personified. You had Overton Wakefield Jones. The simple, country, handyman. Life is complex but that doesn't mean your lifestyle has to be and Overton showed me that. He is the pioneer of escaping the Friendzone. He loved Synclaire the moment he saw her and he didn't care about anything else but her. Overton reminds me of a Dom Kennedy lyric in a song called "Love Is The Future" where Dom raps "That's my future girl right there, go ask her if she know." Overton knew that Synclaire was his wife before anyone else knew and he went and got her. 

ROC 

A criminally slept on sitcom. When BET was watchable. This was my generations "Good Times." Roc was a show that really kept it real. Charles S. Dutton has a reputation of showing audiences real life in the black community in any role he has. Dutton played "Roc Emerson" a garbage man in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife Eleanor Emerson who was a nurse. It showed me that not everyone will be lawyers, doctors, or live in the middle class. Roc was a family oriented man in the hood with a job that wasn't glamorous in society. He was tight with his money and he always brought home junk from his job. A true "Another man trash is another man treasure" kind of guy. Shows today like "Black-ish" are funny. Nothing against the show but it's safe. It is what it is but because it's on a huge network it won't come close to diving in the waters Roc did in terms of discussing race. It's frowned upon because the moment we stop shucking and jiving and being funny on the shows the moment where white america think we're being divisive and tunes us out. Roc covered drug abuse whether it was the dealer or the addict, neighborhood violence, and how black people struggle with oppression in America. Those obstacles are out there every time I step foot out the door. Roc reminded me of that and showed me how to deal with it. 

THE BOONDOCKS

A show that pulled you in with ignorance on the surface but weaved social commentary underneath the ignorance and left you with a message after every episode was over. I always felt enlightened after every episode. The classic fish out of water approach where you had two kids from the inner city Riley and Huey Freeman placed in a unfamiliar environment with their Grandfather in white suburbia. My favorite lesson was when Tom (Next door neighbor and neighborhood Uncle Tom) was possessed by Stinkmeanor (A dead evil blind black man) and they couldn't figure out how to remove Stinkmeanor's spirit from Tom's body. They were beating the shit out of Tom violently but nothing changed. The ghost of Ghostface Killah appears and kept telling Huey the answer but Huey never caught on until he actually thought about it. The answer was peace. Peace is what heals. Peace removed the evil spirit. It's episodes like that one that put things in perspective. 

A DIFFERENT WORLD

I didn't grow up on The Cosby Show. I didn't start watching it until I was in high school. I grew up on it's spinoff "A Different World." College just looked fun as fuck. I thought Hillman was real and I actually looked forward to college because of this show. A show that made being black and smart cool. D'wayne Wayne had a stellar GPA while rocking Jordan 3's. You can be a nerd and be cool. It doesn't have to be separated. I was taught about AIDS. Rape. Domestic abuse. Self love and hate. Racism. War. This show really covered every base and kept up with current events in reality. Probably the most important show in the history of television. Children today should be watching this show. 

FAMILY MATTERS

Okay. This show is dumb but I respected it. Let me tell you why I thought it was dumb. Laura Winslow damn near dated every teen in Chicago and was still a virgin. Somebody would've got the ass in real life. It would've been inevitable. I don't think i've ever seen a woman in my life date that many people at Laura's age on the show. Eddie Winslow dated every teenage girl in Chicago. The Winslow kids were just virgin freaks. She also fell in love with Stefan who was Steve Urkel with Contacts in a suit. No difference. Steve Urkel was a stalker and king of harassment. It was funny here and there and sometimes it was just down right creepy. Laura finally dates him after years of stalking and he escapes the Friend zone after almost 6 years. Steve Urkel also caused close to a million dollars in damages to the Winslow household and they continued to allow him over there. Judy (The sister) just disappeared and we never saw her again. Rachel (The Aunt) owned a restaurant and still stayed in a crowded household instead of getting her own place to raise her son in. Just a cluster fuck of dumb shit. Except Waldo. He was hilarious. Why did I respect this show? It was because when they had episodes about serious issues they really wouldn't miss. You have the episode with Laura trying to get her high school to teach more black history and she gets Nigger spray painted on her locker. You have the episode Eddie is racially profiled and assaulted by the police and instead of his own father (A police officer also) believing him he assumed it was a misunderstanding and Eddie did something to send the racist officers over the edge. Reminds you of today. Instead of holding racist officers accountable people always say "Why didn't the black person just comply?" What if they did comply and still got killed or assaulted? They start to blame it on how we're dressed or how we talk. Crazy right? Family Matters never dropped the ball on serious issues. 

THE PARENT HOOD

The WB sunday lineup. Wayans, Nick Freno, and Parent Hood. Robert Townsend is another legendary film maker that always cared about how the black community was depicted in entertainment and it showed in this show. It has a clear influence of The Cosby Show. The story takes place in Harlem. The wife was a law student. Robert was a College Professor. They had 4 kids and a funny, greedy next door neighbor named Wendell. I remember an episode where this black filmmaker made a violent film about Harlem street life and come to find out he wasn't even from Harlem nor was he raised in the streets like he claimed and Robert exposed him for it. He was a culture vulture and making money off the blood of other black people who were really struggling. I never seen another sitcom cover that subject. The guy was really a lost man who had no idea of the damage he was causing to his own culture. It taught me that a enemy can look just like me. The Parent Hood was a solid show I learned from. 

THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR

Another "Fish out of water" plot. Will coming from the hood of Philly to uppity Bel-Air and having to adjust to the culture of the neighborhood he was a new resident of really prepared me for going to an predominantly white high school. My exact words were "I feel like Will Smith in Fresh Prince." I was looked at differently for how I dressed like Will. The way I talked was different like Will. I learned a lot from other cultures like Will. This show really helped me adjust to the culture shift I was going through. 

Fuck TV but not these shows. 

- BENNY