When I tell you 90s sitcoms really shaped my ideas about love and relationships, I'm being totally honest! I had no examples of functional couples around me daily, so I would watch the ups and downs between all the sitcom lovers for clues as to how my love life would look in my 20s and 30s. I loved these couples and I was probably just as invested in their relationship antics as they were! I figured since it's the day before Valentine's Day and it’s Black History Month, I would share my favorite couples of Black Television History (I know I’m reaching, but it’ll be a fun post).
Will and Lisa- This couple was featured on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and they were my example of young love. They were college-aged sweethearts and too adorable to deny! Will’s pursuit of Lisa was not only cute, but romantic. It gave the impression that guys would go the extra mile to be with the girl of their dreams (and boy did he go the extra mile). With running jokes about Lisa’s real name (Beulah) and her cooking (which was terrible), this couple was a perfect mash-up of realistic relationship teasing and true love. It taught me that it’s perfectly fine to be friends with your mate and keep a level of comedy in the relationship.
Jamie and Fancy- Very similar to Will and Lisa, this couple was featured on The Jamie Fox Show. They were basically Will and Lisa during the early career age of life (where I am now). The dynamic was a little different in the sense that it showed how being an adult with a career can impact your relationship. There were moments of career insecurity with Jamie because Fancy seemed to be solidly in her career and flourishing. Jamie, on the other hand, wanted to be a singer, but settled for being a jingle writer. This is a REAL issue that couples face when one party is established and the other is still trying to find themselves career-wise. I loved the comical antics around this issue and Jamie’s quest to be more than enough for Fancy. It was literally the sweetest thing (especially when he would sing to her). I’m melting just thinking of all the sweet love songs he sang her through the course of the show. (Can you tell I’m a sucker for singers?) Overall, I learned that it can be a bumpy road when supporting your partner’s dreams (within reason), but your support is EVERYTHING.
Martin and Gina- I honestly believe the dynamic between Martin and Gina (of the show Martin) was almost identical to that of Jamie and Fancy, BUT their friends played a huge factor in their relationship. This show highlighted what it looked like when close friends don’t necessarily respect your choice of partner. Pam, Gina’s best friend, was constantly bickering with Martin. Although it was a large part of the comedy to watch them get their jokes off on one another, it did show Gina juggling her romantic relationship and her friendship effectively. At the core of everything, Martin and Pam both loved Gina and tolerated each other for that reason. It sounds problematic, but the show made it seem hilarious and sweet at the same time. The lesson in this show was balance.
Michael and Jay- What’s a long-term relationship without a marriage and some kids sprinkled in there? Michael and Jay from My Wife and Kids showed what would have happened if Jamie and Fancy or Martin and Gina would have gotten married and had children. (Oddly enough, Jay, in real life, is played by the same actress that played Gina.) Adding children to the equation just adds to the antics and fun. It showed me what family life could look like and how new sacrifices would have to be made when kids are involved. It also introduced me to life beyond dating and early engagement. They made the marriage dynamic look like fun, drama, and insanity all in one (in a good way).
Florida and James- The names are synonymous with “the struggle” or “struggle love”. This couple from the show Good Times had genuine and undying love for each other. It was as if nothing in their lives could go right except their love for one another and their children. The family faced hardship after hardship every episode, but the couple managed to be nothing but supportive with each other. Of course, there were some points where they got annoyed with one another due to circumstance, but they hung tough more than any couple I’ve ever seen (on or off the screen). They taught me that you can still have a strong bond with your significant other (even when things around you are crashing and burning).
Heathcliff and Claire- Almost polar opposite to Florida and James, Heathcliff and Claire were a married couple feature on The Cosby Show. It seemed as if the powers that be were trying to right the wrong of allowing us to watch Florida and James struggle so much by giving us these two. A doctor and a lawyer that were happily married with a gang of well-rounded children was just amazing to me. I loved watching how the children learned to love and be loved based on the good examples their parents set. That was my overall lesson from the show. You must give your children functional relationships on which to base their future relationships.
Now that I’ve shared my Black Love in Television History examples with you, let me know what shows (if any) helped you shape your ideas about relationships. Also, is the current generation doomed based on the relationships portrayed on television now?
Happy Valentine’s Day loves!