Looking at the Cultural Impact of “Living Single” 29 Years Later

by Jhanaya Belle

August 23, 2022

Photo by: Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

There have been several shows that did it for the culture. Living Single will forever be a show that will get its well-deserved flowers!

Debuting 29 years ago on August 22nd, 1993, the show’s creator Yvette Lee Bowser set some of television’s biggest trends, influencing shows such as Friends, to Insecure.

The television series, which starred Queen Latifah, Kim Coles, Kim Fields, Erika Alexander, T.C. Carson, and John Henton, the series followed the personal and professional lives of six friends who resided in a Brooklyn brownstone were chronicled.

The five-season series, which aired from 1993 to 1998, was a rating success for Fox and one of the most popular Black shows of the 1990s.

Before A Different World, which ended in 1993, there weren’t Black sitcoms that centered on a group of young, single friends, such as editor Khadijah James played by Latifah, receptionist and aspiring actress Synclaire James-Jones played by Coles, attorney Maxine Shaw played by Alexander, gossip Regina Hunter played by Fields, handyman Overton Wakefield played by Henton, and stockbroker Kyle Barker played by Carson.

Here are some reasons why TV One is forever grateful for Living Single!

Dispelling Negative Stereotypes

To dispel negative stereotypes about Black people, more focus was made on cultivating an air of Black excellence.

The professions held by the characters include stockbroker, lawyer, and magazine editor. The cast of Living Single was aware of the influence their depictions had, and the show placed a strong emphasis on the positive representation of Black people.

Alexander discussed the significance of representation in an interview with Blavity, Inc., saying, “Representation matters … there are people who have come up to me who are in positions of power, whether they are politicians or lawyers that saw Max and Kyle and Khadijah, and saw themselves in those positions.”


The Importance of Friendship

Photo by: Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images

Throughout the show’s run, Living Single did a phenomenal job of displaying the various stages of the characters’ friendships.

Following the everyday lives of Khadijah, Synclaire, Regina, Maxine, Kyle, and Overton they beautifully showed a different perspective of what brotherhood/ sisterhood looks like, especially with the different personalities.

The show showed diversity with the different personalities, which made it easier for its fans to identify with and fall in love with the show even more.


Diversity

Living Single didn’t just cast a black ensemble and hope the show will do well; it deliberately set out to create a varied representation of Brooklyn living.

Lee Bowser deliberately created characters and plots that reflected the diversity of young black people’s realities.

“There had been such a void on television that needed to be filled,” Lee Bowser stated.

She continued.

“It’s interesting because there’s certain aspects of certain characters that we’ve seen—we’ve seen Clair Huxtable, we’ve seen the black lawyer, but she was a mom,” Lee Bowser said. “So, we really hadn’t seen [stories about young black people in the city], and I know that they obviously existed in the real world.”

Although the central characters of Living Single (with the exception of Maxine) shared a house, they came from a wide variety of social and geographic backgrounds. Instead of promoting aspirational respectability, the show showed all facets of black life.


Guest Stars

Another reason why Living Single was well loved is because of the guest stars that appeared throughout the series.

From having the legendary Chip Fields and Rita Owens playing Khadijah’s and Regina’s mothers, to A Different World’s stars Cree Summer, Kadeem Hardison, and Jasmine Guy, to the late Eartha Kitt Living Single fans could count on the show to be surprised and entertained not only by the main and recurring cast but the special guests!

Thank you to Yvette Lee Bowser, and the cast of Living Single for your amazing contribution to the culture and television industry! You deserve ALL praises!

Tell us what you love about Living Single down below!

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