‘Between Brothers’ Successfully Explored Black Male Friendships—& It Deserved More Than 2 Seasons

I've been indulging in content that celebrates Black women lately, and it has been so satisfying. I can't tell you how many nights I've spent watching reruns of Living Single and Girlfriends—both of which changed the landscape for how Black women are portrayed on television. And now, the amount of feminist shows that tackle the intricacies of Black female friendships has skyrocketed, from Harlem and First Wives Club to Insecure. But as much as I appreciate these shows, I find myself craving more content that explores Black male friendships.

Thanks to my obsession with the '90s, I took this as my cue to revisit Between Brothers, an old sitcom that almost no one talks about. This gender-swapped version of Living Single—which resembles a tamer version of Tyler Perry's Bruh—only lasted for two seasons and, unfortunately, was panned by most critics. But after rewatching this hidden gem, I was reminded of how well it handled brotherhood and how it paved the way for modern titles that focus on the bond between Black men.

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If you haven't seen the series, it revolves around a tight-knit group of four middle-class Black men in their twenties as they navigate life in Chicago. This includes sports writer Charles Winston (Kadeem Hardison), his playboy brother James Winston (Dondré T. Whitfield), their freeloading friend Mitchell Ford (Tommy Davidson) and meteorologist Dusty Canyon (Kelly Perine). They're all established in their careers, but they don't have everything figured out—especially regarding their love lives. Throughout the series, they navigate a number of challenging and awkward situations, from Mitchell getting kicked out of his wife's house to Charles almost hooking up with one of his closest female friends.

One of the biggest things that drew me to this series was how genuine the brotherhood felt. It was satisfying to watch them discuss their first crushes over breakfast, share career updates at the Corner Pub and roast each other about their fashion choices. They also mastered the art of balancing heart-to-hearts with tough love—like when Dusty's friends tried to talk him out of marrying a woman he just met, or when the guys try to cheer Charles up on his milestone 30th birthday. While I've always enjoyed seeing Black women uplift one another on the small screen, it's especially rewarding (and quite rare) to see the same dynamic between a group of Black men.

It's worth noting that there was no other show like this during the '90s. Perhaps the closest example is The Wayans Bros., which followed two young adult brothers who shared an apartment in Harlem. While it leaned into slapstick humor and plenty of borderline bizarre plotlines, it still showed how Shawn and Marlon overcame their disagreements and strengthened their unbreakable bond. They were flawed and messy and, at times, incredibly childish, but you couldn't help but root for these two men because they stuck to their core values and supported each other.

The same rang true for the men in Between Brothers, except it dealt with a full posse of four successful guys who are vastly different. And much like Tyler Perry's Bruh, which did an even deeper dive into the complexities of male friendship, it offered a glimpse into the mindsets and everyday lives of men. We got to see how they lead, how they handle conflict and how they deal with setbacks at work. We got to see them be vulnerable with their boys and figure out how to navigate a world that labels them as dangerous.

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Could Between Brothers have pushed the envelope with more challenging topics? Absolutely. For instance, it would've been interesting to see Mitchell respond to a student making a racist comment, or James deal with a sudden pregnancy scare from one of his many hookups. Even so, the show definitely succeeded at highlighting why Black men need a community of trusted friends. (I can't imagine where Mitchell would be without Dusty, who, albeit reluctantly, offered him a place to stay after he got kicked out by his wife.)

With such a strong and talented cast, this show could've evolved into an even better sitcom that expertly balanced drama with humor. Who’s to say that Between Brothers wouldn't have eventually touched on more serious issues like racism, police brutality and toxic masculinity? What if it introduced more layered characters that challenged these men? Or found clever ways to incorporate social commentary, like Debbie Allen did in A Different World?

Unfortunately, we'll never know. But for now, I'll settle for rewatching old episodes and letting my imagination run wild.

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nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...