May 4, 2017
This is “The Breakdown” where we look at some of the biggest moments in our lives (and by “our lives,” we mean stuff that was happening on TV) and get at the heart of what makes these scenes and characters so unforgettable with five thoughts.
We’ve spent a lot of time with shows that launched in the 70s and 80s, but now we jump to the new millennium with a look at the first episode of the instant classic show —“Girfriends.”
1. It may be cliche now to acknowledge Tracee Ellis Ross’ donk given how often she mentions it (like here and here) but in 2000, we had no idea that Diana Ross’ skinny-minny daughter had all of that behind her! And while we applaud shows like “Living Single” for celebrating Black womanhood, you’d be hard pressed to find a show in the year 2000 that unabashedly trumpeted their unique curves. And no, we’re not counting J.Lo!
2. We forgot how weird the early seasons of “Girlfriends” really was! The idea of a character breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the audience on a Black show was (and sorta is) unheard of. Black TV tends to be revolutionary by adhering to accepted norms (The Cosby Show, What’s Happening) not breaking them.
3. The guy playing Charles in this episode, the one Joan is trying seduce with her clingy, green dress, is none other than 90’s Black TV staple — Jason George. Before he became a SERIOUS ACTOR on “Grey’s Anatomy,” this chocolate cutie was the go-to hot Black dude on shows like “Moesha,” “Eve” and “Half and Half.” If Blair Underwood wasn’t available, this guy was and boy, were we happy he showed up.
4. Maybe our memory is hazy but when did Joan start having a thick, Southern accent? Watch that scene again when she turns to the camera — uh, is that her as-of-yet-explained Alabama roots coming out or is that her sexy voice? Strange (but we like it).
5. William is one of the most underrated Black male characters in TV history — there, we said it! How many other Black men had the license to be a leading man who was equal parts nerd and romantic lead? Hell, he got with TWO of the shows leading ladies! In a world where you were either Urkel or Stephan, William managed to do both without breaking a sweat!
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