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5 Black TV Sitcoms That Came and Went

I was an 80s teen and I love covering all things relevant to Generation X.

Scoey Mitchell and Tracy Reed in Barefoot in the Park - 70s Black TV Sitcom

Scoey Mitchell and Tracy Reed in Barefoot in the Park - 70s Black TV Sitcom

Barefoot in the Park (1970 - 1971)

In this show, Scoey Mitchell and Tracy Reed play Paul and Corrie Bratter, newlyweds who struggle to survive their first year of marriage in NYC.

Barefoot in the Park was a short-lived 70s TV show based on the Neil Simon Broadway play it is named after, as well as the 1967 classic film that starred Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.

An interesting thing about Barefoot in the Park is the fact that it was the first American TV sitcom since Amos 'n' Andy to feature a predominantly black cast. Amos 'n' Andy first aired in the late 1920s.

To help promote the show, it was featured as the lead-in program for another series based on a Neil Simon play, The Odd Couple starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, which debuted immediately afterward.

Since both shows followed the long-standing hit Bewitched (Elizabeth Montgomery & Agnes Moorehead), ABC hoped it had a couple of winners on its hands...but nope!

We all know The Odd Couple went on to be a hit, but barely anyone remembers Barefoot in the Park. Do you remember this classic TV show?

Lil J.J. in Just Jordan

Lil J.J. in Just Jordan

Just Jordan (2007 - 2008)

Just Jordan is a show about a kid named Jordan Lewis who moves from Little Rock, Arkansas to L.A. The show follows his daily exploits, which tend to be pre-teens.

Of course, he also had a bratty little sister, a couple of bros, and a mother with eyes in the back of her head.

The show stars Lil J.J. in the lead role and it aired on Nickelodeon as a part of their TEENick lineup. The series only lasted two seasons, but you can sometimes catch re-runs on Nickelodeon.

"That's My Mama" starred Clifton Davis as a young man trying to run an inherited barbershop in D.C.

"That's My Mama" starred Clifton Davis as a young man trying to run an inherited barbershop in D.C.

That's My Mama (1974 - 1975)

It might not have been The Jefferson's or Good Times, but I remember That's My Mama. I can't remember a single episode, but I do remember the show...sort of.

This show was packed with recognizable 70s TV faces like Clifton Davis, Ted Lange, Lynn Moody, Theodore Wilson, Joan Pringle, and Helen Martin.

That's My Mama starred Clifton Davis as a young man trying to run an inherited barbershop in D.C. He enjoys the single life, but his opinionated mother, Eloise "Mama" Curtis, played by Theresa Merritt, keeps prodding him to start a family.

The show was never a ratings success, so it was canceled in 1975. An interesting fact about That's My Mama is that it was the first TV series produced by Columbia Pictures Television, which later brought us such TV hits as Charlie's Angels, Family, What's Happening!!, and Benson, among many others.

One of the first instances of a "dramedy."

One of the first instances of a "dramedy."

Frank's Place (1987 - 1988)

Frank's Place starred Tim Reid as a Black professor at an Ivy League university in Rhode Island. He inherits a restaurant in New Orleans and attempts to sell it, but is influenced by voodoo to return to New Orleans and carry on the family business.

The show initially appeared to be light and trivial, like a newcomer in a strange new land type of thing, but it actually had a serious tone with discussions on race, class, and other societal issues. It was one of the first instances of a "dramedy."

Frank's Place also stars Time Reid's wife, actress Daphne Maxwell Reid. Although the show had some teeth to it, it was well before its time so it wasn't received as well as it should have been.

There was a bit of controversy surrounding the cancellation of Frank's Place involving Laurence Tisch, the CEO of CBS. Prohibitive reproduction costs having to do with the show's soundtrack not being properly secured in its initial run have made it so that there is no official DVD released to date.


Charlie & Co. (1985 - 1986)

Did ya know Gladys Knight and Flip Wilson had a TV show? That's right, they did and it was created during the shine of The Cosby Show, but it didn't last longer than one season.

Charlie & Co, also known as Charlie and Company, starred Flip Wilson as Charlie and Gladys Knight as his wife, Diana. They were a middle-class family living life on Chicago's South Side—as opposed to the Huxtables, who were an upper-middle-class family living life in affluent Brooklyn Heights, New York.

The show also featured Della Reese, Jaleel White, and Kristoff St. John. CBS' Blue Collar answer to NBC's Cosby Show was a ratings failure, but it was still good to see Wilson and Knight on screen...and it was even better to hear Gladys Knight singing the theme song.

© 2020 Rachelle Williams


Rachelle Williams (author) from Tempe, AZ on August 11, 2020:

They probably never made it across the pond. Thank you for reading!

Rachelle Williams (author) from Tempe, AZ on August 11, 2020:

Good Catch! Thank You, I'll make the correction immediately.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 11, 2020:

Thanks for highlighting these shows. None are familiar to me, so I am wondering if they made it across to the UK.

TruSoulDJ on August 10, 2020:

Great article. One correction though. Amos and Andy’s radio show aired in the 1920s. The tv adaption with the all Black cast aired in the 1950s.