33 of the Best Black Sitcoms to Stream Right Now, from ‘Family Matters’ to ‘#blackAF’

"Did I do that?"

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There’s no denying that Black sitcoms are among the most powerful and influential shows to ever grace the small screen. Known for pushing barriers and tackling deep issues with smart humor, the best Black sitcoms shed much-needed light on Black perspectives, proving that the community is just as compelling as they are complex. Plus, they've proven to be timeless—though it's worth noting that certain things from the '90s haven't aged very well (different era or not, of course not everything has held up).

Still, we can all agree that a lot of these shows still hold up today because of how they tackled deep issues through comedy. Stephanie Troutman Robbins, a scholar at the University of Arizona, said in an interview, “With the influx of cable networks and digital platforms such as Netflix, there are more opportunities for people to engage with different and more complex stories about the Black experience and for Black people to find a reflection of themselves and their communities on TV.”

She added, “We're seeing more of the very rich landscape of Blackness in the United States, including variations according to sexuality, socioeconomic status and geographical location, [with] shows like The Chi, created by Lena Waithe, and Insecure, created by Issa Rae.”

Whether you're up for a timely, feminist series or a throwback that takes you straight back to your childhood, keep reading for 33 of the best Black sitcoms, plus where to stream them on platforms like Max, Hulu, Prime Video and more.

1. Living Single

  • Network: Fox

Whether it’s Regine sniping at Max for freeloading or Synclaire confessing her love for Troll dolls, there’s never a dull moment when it comes to this captivating group. For those who are unfamiliar, it follows the personal and professional lives of six Black friends, including our imaginary BFFs, Khadijah (Queen Latifah), Synclaire (Kim Coles), Max (Erika Alexander) and Regine (Kim Fields). Prepare for all the laughs.

While discussing her inspiration behind the show, creator Yvette Lee Bowser told The Television Academy Foundation that it was all about “depicting stories that feel organic and authentic to me, and also, wanting to have that sisterly energy and enviable female relationships like I saw on Laverne & Shirley, and like I had in my own real life.”

2. The Fresh Prince Of Bel-air

  • Network: NBC

We confess, we’ve tried to mimic the Carlton dance on more than one occasion. But Alfonso Ribeiro’s fancy footwork is just one of many things that make this show special. It’s filled with so many likable, multifaceted characters and it tackles quite a few complex topics, from interracial marriage to gender stereotyping. Plus, Will's (Will Smith) roasting sessions are a major bonus.

Fans were thrilled to see the cast reunite for an HBO Max special in 2020, and Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton, revealed that this kind of reunion actually happens quite often behind the cameras. He told E! News, "We're hanging out all the time. This just happened to be with a crew there. The love that we've had for each other throughout is a continuation of love and all that people saw on that show was the continuation of that love 30 years later."

3. Martin

  • Network: Fox

It’s wild, it’s silly and it’s packed with snarky comebacks that are sure to elicit the deepest belly laughs. This classic ‘90s show centers on the daily life of Martin Payne (Martin Lawrence), an ambitious radio host, his girlfriend, Gina Waters (Tisha Campbell) and their group of friends in Detroit. (P.S., We're seriously impressed that Lawrence plays nine different characters on the show, including Ol' Otis and Sheneneh.)

While reflecting on the show's legacy, Lawrence told Yahoo! Entertainment, "When I look at it I feel like our [lives] have not been in vain. I feel like we've done God's work. We made people laugh for years and we continue to make people laugh. And we're doing the work."

4. The Bernie Mac Show

  • Network: Fox

Loosely based on his own life, the sitcom follows a fictionalized version of late comedian Bernie Mac as he tries to raise his sister’s three children. Even with his questionable parenting style, you can’t help but love Bernie. Whether he’s casually smoking a cigar with his boys or exchanging insults with his moody teenage niece, you can count on the comedian to keep you entertained with his unfiltered (and hysterical) commentary.

The Emmy-winning sitcom featured several famous guest stars, like Serena Williams, Angela Bassett, Ellen DeGeneres, Ashton Kutcher and Billy Crystal, just to name a few.

5. A Different World

  • Network: NBC

We could go on for days about why A Different World is so great, from Whitley’s Southern twang to Freddie’s fiery passion for social justice. But even more importantly, ADW sheds light on the richness and diversity of the Black community. For those who are unfamiliar, it follows a group of Black students who attend the historically Black Hillman College. And as they navigate college life, we see them deal with real issues, from racism and student burnout to domestic violence.

Kadeem Hardison, who played Dwayne, told PureWow, "A Different World was lightning in a bottle back then. I don't think we were out to catch lightning in the bottle...It started out rocky, and then Debbie came and all of a sudden, it struck lightning. Then, over the years, we managed to own it and catch it." 

6. Sister, Sister

  • Network: ABC

It came as no surprise when Sister, Sister became Netflix’s most-watched series after hitting the streaming platform. (Note: The show has since moved over to Hulu). Aside from Tia (Tia Mowry) and Tamera’s (Tamera Mowry-Housley) tight-knit bond, there was also Lisa’s (Jackée Harry) sassy one-liners, Roger’s (Marques Houston) cheesy pick-up lines and, of course, a plethora of stellar guest stars, from Gabrielle Union to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

While discussing her character in an exclusive interview with PureWow, Mowry-Housely said, “Tamera Campbell, to me, is iconic. She was so much fun. I loved her because, if you look back at all the seasons and some of the episodes, she was never afraid to be herself. She was goofy. She was silly. She was boy-crazy. Maybe a little mischievous and maybe did not like school. But she had this zest for life. That was just contagious. She was the life of the party, she loved her family [and] her sister. She loved life. And I just loved playing her.”

7. #blackAF

  • Network: Netflix

Black-ish creator Kenya Barris plays a fictionalized version of himself in this mockumentary-style sitcom, starring Rashida Jones, Iman Benson and Genneya Walton. Many would describe it as the edgier version of Black-ish, since it centers on the everyday lives of a wealthy Black family, but it’s also quite different. In this case, you’ll find a messy and deeply dysfunctional family who makes the Johnsons look like saints. And of course, there’s no shortage of funny one-liners.

Jones told Variety, "The show is absolutely a commentary of one specific person’s life and his experience in Hollywood, but obviously I grew up in Hollywood and I have my own experience, and Kenya and I have talked a lot about first and second generation Black wealth and how it intersects in Hollywood and what that means and what that feels like—the pressure and the dysfunction that can come from that. So hopefully we’re portraying that in a way that’s interesting and relatable for people who are not just in Hollywood."

8. My Wife & Kids

  • Network: ABC

If you loved Tisha Campbell in Martin, then allow us to introduce your newest obsession, My Wife & Kids. It revolves around the upper-middle-class Kyle family, including Jay (Campbell), Michael (Damon Wayans) and their three children. Not only is it filled with laugh-out-loud moments, but also, Jay is just as smart and captivating as the Gina Waters we all know and love. Plus, there are definitely some similarities to The Bernie Mac Show, since Michael is known for his unique parenting methods (like playing cruel pranks on his kids to teach them a lesson).

In a 2002 interview with The Chicago Tribune, Damon Wayans said, "The show is a bright spot that allows me to relive some of the beauty of being married...The limits of television don't allow you to do the darker side of marriage. So, I'm getting a chance to remember what it was like to be in love and really having a family that worked, so it's definitely a blessing."

9. Black-ish

  • Network: ABC

This brilliant series, which follows a rich Black family who struggles to keep their Black identity in a predominantly white space, is by far one of the best shows to air in recent years. It expertly balances humor with serious and relevant themes, pulling no punches when it comes to the more unsettling parts of being Black in America today.

Show creator Kenya Barris told Ebony, “[There are] so many things that we got to do on that show, I really felt like were things that I never thought [we'd] be able to do on network television. I think, in some respects, we helped change the perception of what Black America was for people who didn't really know.”

10. Girlfriends

  • Network: UPN, The CW

Fun fact: Not only did Girlfriends center on four complex Black ladies, but also, the series was created by a Black woman and had Black women writers. It definitely explains why the characters felt so authentic and why the show resonated so deeply with Black viewers, covering issues like cultural appropriation and colorism while delivering the biggest laughs.

As it turns out, the show's creator, Mara Brock Akil, took inspiration from Sex and the City when she pitched the sitcom. She told Harper's BAZAAR, "I wanted to shift it to the chosen family of sisterhood and use Joan and Toni as my Carrie and Mr. Big. It was always about that—whether or not that relationship was ever going to make it, and then letting all the other ones wrap around it. [Black women] did not have any seat at the table on Sex and the City. And although I still really enjoyed the show, I didn't see that as a rejection, I saw it as an opportunity. So when this moment came, this [pitch] meeting came, when they said what they wanted, I said, 'Well, I want to give you a very modern take on female friendships, similar to Sex and the City in tone and tonality.' And that got their attention."

11. The Wayans Bros.

  • Network: The WB

Before they graced our screens in the Scary Movie films, Shawn and Marlon Wayans starred in this classic sitcom as brothers who live together in Harlem—and it’s impossible to watch a single episode without laughing. Marlon is a master at slapstick comedy and Shawn is smoother than silk when it comes to the ladies, but you’ll especially enjoy their silly exchanges with their dad, Pops (John Witherspoon).

Not surprisingly, the sitcom was a big success during its five-season run. On the show's 24th anniversary, Marlon said on Instagram, "We were 21 & 23-year-old kids from the projects of Manhattan that created, exec produced, and starred in our very own sitcom. We were fearless, young, crazy, funny, physical, edgy and free. We got skewered by critics, attacked by elders and often attacked by groups. Shawn and I never caved. We kept it 'real.' We did it for the audience.” *Mic drop*

12. 227

  • Network: NBC

Adapted from Christine Houston's namesake stage play, 227 revolves around a group of Black, middle-class residents who live in an apartment building in Washington, D.C. The show primarily focuses on Mary Jenkins, a chatty housewife who lives with her husband and daughter.

The iconic Marla Gibbs was born to play Mary, but believe it or not, the network wanted her to play a different role on the series. She told The Hollywood Reporter, "In 227, the network wanted me to own the building. I said, 'I will not own the building. That makes me one of the haves. I don’t know what that would do to my career. And I’m not willing to find out. I’m one of the have-nots. My romance with the people is that I’m one of them.'"

13. Moesha

  • Network: UPN

Very few things are as entertaining as watching Moesha (Brandy Norwood) and her pals gossip about boys while hanging at The Den. Join the aspiring writer as she deals with the ups and downs of adolescent life with her tight-knit family and friends.

When asked about the sitcom's legacy, Norwood told ET Online, “I think for young Black girls to grow up through her journey and through her eyes and to see a young Black girl with braids in her hair, it leaves the legacy of possibility.”

14. The Parkers

  • Network: UPN

A spin-off of Moesha, The Parkers centers on Moesha’s friend, Kim Parker (Countess Vaughn) and her mom, Nikki (Mo'Nique), as they attend Santa Monica College. Naturally, Kim is just as bubbly and boy-crazy, and the chemistry between Vaughn and Mo’Nique is phenomenal, but what stands out most is the show’s depiction of body positivity and self-confidence.

Mo'Nique said, “For me, that was a special moment in time. That show came on in 1998 and it never left the air. So to be...the only Black female comedian in history to have her own sitcom—it stays on for five years, and then goes in syndication all around the world. So, I’m grateful [for the experience].” 

15. Family Matters

  • Network: ABC

As much as we loved following the Winslows, a lovable middle-class Black family in Chicago, we especially enjoyed watching our favorite accident-prone nerd, Steve Urkel (Jaleel White). The Perfect Strangers spin-off taught millions of viewers about the value of family and offered some insight into what it's like to be a Black cop in Chicago.

Young fans who were charmed by Steve's smooth-talking alter ego, "Stefan Urquelle," will be surprised to know that White wasn't the biggest fan of the character. Per Atlanta Black Star, he said, “You know what, I never even wanted to play Stefan. I thought Stefan was boring...I mean, thank God I played Stefan, because it allowed Black women to see me the way I actually am. I had no idea, and now that’s the standard.”

16. Smart Guy

  • Network: The WB

Tahj Mowry’s brilliant portrayal of T.J. Henderson makes it so easy to love the smug little genius. Plus, his single father, Floyd (John Marshall Jones), has a heart of gold and does a phenomenal job of instilling the right values in his three kids. In this show, we follow T.J.’s high school adventures along with his colorful older siblings Marcus (Jason Weaver) and Yvette (Essence Atkins).

"We were very on brand with the culture," Mowry exclusively told PureWow. "We had the 'Strangers on the Net' episode, which was about literal pedophiles, and we were doing a 30-minute episode on a comedy sitcom. I think those things were done purposely, sort of mixing that serious life lesson in with the comedy. Every good sitcom has to have a level of realism to it. And I think Smart Guy did that so well. It's a credit to the writers, they just knew what they were doing."

17. The Jamie Foxx Show

  • Network: The WB

Fun fact: Even though this sitcom wasn’t a huge success, it helped launch the careers of Jamie Foxx and Garcelle Beauvais. Foxx plays aspiring musician Jamie King, who moves to Los Angeles to pursue an entertainment career. To make ends meet, he works at his family's hotel, King's Tower, where snappy comebacks and sneaky, over-the-top schemes abound.

Decades after the series first aired, we still catch ourselves saying phrases like “motherfloodpucker,” and Jamie's incredible singing skills are a major highlight.

18. The Steve Harvey Show

  • Network: The WB

Before he became the face of Family Feud, Steve Harvey starred in his own sitcom as Steve Hightower, a former entertainer who becomes a music teacher at Booker T. Washington High School in Chicago. On the series, he works alongside Coach Cedric Robinson (Cedric the Entertainer), his longtime best friend, and his former classmate, Principal Regina Grier (Wendy Raquel Robinson).

Meanwhile, Steve's classes have their fair share of standout students, including Bullethead, Romeo, Sophia and, of course, the Lady of Rage. Who could forget about those iconic Afro-Puffs?

19. The Jeffersons

  • Network: CBS

Join George (Sherman Hemsley) and Louise Jefferson (Isabel Sanford) as they enjoy their deluxe apartment in the sky, during the '70s, complete with a wisecracking maid and dimwitted British neighbor. George’s explosive temper and sharp commentary is quite the contrast to Louise’s generosity and patience, but it’s always so fascinating to see how they complement each other.

FYI, The Jeffersons is one of the longest-running sitcoms in TV history, and it made history as the first show to feature a married interracial couple as main characters. It involved silly gags and slapstick comedy, but it didn't shy away from serious issues like gun control, racism, substance abuse and divorce. It's no wonder the show scored two Emmy wins.

20. Good Times

  • Network: CBS

It was the first Black sitcom to ever feature a family that includes both parents as leads, and while the family had to grapple with poverty, the series still highlighted Black joy. The groundbreaking series, which aired in the '70s, delivered on humor, but never shied away from more serious issues, including child abuse, gang violence and discrimination.

“America and the world got to see what life could be like within a Black family on Good Times,” John Amos told TV Line. “It was the sort of family white viewers had read about in their own magazines with their slanted perceptions. But Good Times corrected that imagery with its crazy teenage kids, a studious son Michael, as portrayed by Ralph Carter, and a beautiful young daughter with unlimited mental potential, as portrayed by Bern Nadette Stanis as Thelma.”

21. Chewing Gum

  • Network: E4

This brilliant British sitcom follows the misadventures of 24-year-old Tracey Gordon (Michaela Coel), a religious store assistant who's eager to find herself and explore the world. It's quite different from Michaela Coel's poignant drama, I May Destroy You, but Cole is just as compelling in this charming sitcom.

Viewers will notice, rather quickly, that the topic of race is rarely mentioned or explored. Coel explained to Radio Times, “Chewing Gum is the London that I know. When I grew up, my race was not a thing. My identity was in my class. It was not about color on my estate."

22. That’s So Raven

  • Network: Disney Channel

Raven-Symoné is a comedic genius, and this series is all the proof we need. Not only did it make history on Disney Channel by becoming the first show to air 100 episodes, but it also inspired two amazing spinoffs: Cory in the House and Raven's Home. See all the wild shenanigans with her two BFFs and mischievous little brother as she deals with her psychic powers.

Fun fact: Symone made history as the youngest Black girl to have a show named after her. She told Entertainment Weekly, "It didn't impact me as much then as it does now because I was 15. I was like, 'Cool, I got my own show.' It means so much now because I understand the [gravity] of what it means and the caliber of humans that I am in the pool with. I think it was kind of a good thing that I didn't let it go to my head. It was just about working and wanting to create great content at the time."

23. Everybody Hates Chris

  • Network: UPN, The CW

Inspired by the real-life of comedian Chris Rock, who also narrates the series, Everybody Hates Chris centers on a young teen who finds himself in a series of unfortunate situations while dealing with a dysfunctional family and attending an all-white school during the ‘80s. All he wants is to be cool, but of course, this doesn’t come easily.

Tyler James Williams, who starred as the young Chris, opened up to Yahoo Entertainment about his time on the show. He said, "We had an opportunity, particularly as Black men, to represent Black men everywhere who looked like us, and how we showed up was important. We had an opportunity to show people sides of things and realities that they wouldn't have normally seen in a way where they can kind of, you know, digest it easily and also fall in love with it."

24. Kenan & Kel

  • Network: Nickelodeon

There are so many reasons to love this show. The way Kel (Kel Mitchell) looks at a bottle of orange soda. The way Kenan’s (Kenan Thompson) eyes light up when he plans his next get-rich-quick scheme. The way he yells “Whyyyyyyyy?!” when Kel screws something up (which is all the time, really). We could never get tired of seeing these two close-knit friends embark on new adventures.

Fortunately for fans, Thompson and Mitchell (who are real-life pals), teamed up to film the classic comedy film, Good Burger. And more than two decades later, the duo reunited to film the sequel.

25. Sanford and Son

  • Network: NBC

Meet Fred G. Sanford (Red Foxx), the quick-witted man with virtually no filter—or better yet, another version of Archie Bunker. The fact that Fred could literally sit in one spot and keep fans entertained is pretty impressive, but it's his complicated relationship with his son, Lamont, that makes this show so compelling.

Interestingly enough, Foxx and Wilson's real-life relationship had a rocky start before they finally became friends. Per Catchy Comedy, Wilson, who played Sanford's son, told The Windsor Star in 1975, "During the first few weeks, we limited ourselves to polite exchanges of 'How you doing?' and kind of walked around each other. Then one day, we were in the photo studio for some publicity pictures and some guy said, 'Okay, I want you to put your head through this tire and smile.' I said something censorable and walked out."

Apparently, Foxx also found the suggestion ridiculous and agreed that he wouldn't have done it either. Wilson added, "I heard Redd say 'My son!' and when I looked back he was right behind me, laughing. From that moment on, we were friends."

26. Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper

  • Network: ABC

Set in Oakland, California, Mark Curry stars as the charming Mark Cooper, a former athlete turned high school gym teacher who's got a knack for pulling the ultimate pranks. The show, set in Oakland, California, may give you Three’s Company vibes, since the character lives with two gorgeous women. In this case though, he actually ends up in a romantic relationship with one of his roommates.

Curry told Entertainment Tonight, "I just wanted to bring my community up. And that's what I tried to do, elevate to another situation to make it look good. I tried to be a positive image on television. That's why you [didn't see] me with a basketball but you saw me with a computer. I was trying to be that role model and I was trying to be a positive guy."

27. Mixed-ish

  • Network: ABC

Dive into the fascinating backstory of Bow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross), aka one of the best characters on Black-ish. Throughout the series, you’ll learn about her experiences with growing up in a mixed-race family and how she learned to navigate a world that sees her as neither fully Black nor white.

According to Parade, during the show's two-season run, Ross said, “I feel like we’ve been waiting to hear this story, and we haven’t had a chance to do a lot of it on Black-ish, and it was a great idea. I’m interested in telling really good stories, and I also think that this was a really seamless story to tell.”

28. Family Reunion

  • Network: Netflix

The Netflix comedy centers on the McKellan family, who move to Columbus, Georgia, in order to be closer to their relatives. Naturally, this reunion is packed with awkward moments due to clashing lifestyles, but can they still make it work?

Loretta Devine, who plays Moz's mother M'Dear, said in an interview, "Although we have a lot of big topics that we’re covering, there’s also a lot of music and entertainment in all of these episodes. We’re taking people to Mardi Gras, on Halloween excursions, Christmas parties. The whole thing. In the midst of all that entertainment, you’re going to learn a lot of things that will help you discuss what life is about with your family." 

29. Instant Mom

  • Network: Nick at Nite, TV Land

Simply put, if Tia Mowry is starring in any sitcom at all, we’ll be there, front row and center. The actress plays Stephanie, a fun-loving food blogger whose life is turned upside down when she falls for Charlie Phillips (Michael Boatman), an older man with three kids.

While chatting with The Hollywood Reporter about the show, Mowry said, "We talk about topics that a lot of families can relate to. And you’re seeing more of these blended families in our generation, which adds a fresh quality to the show."

She added, "On a lot of television shows, you always see the guy as the fish out of water when it comes to the kids. This is one who where you get to see a woman be the fish out of water. She’s trading Cosmos for carpools. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with the kids; it’s all trial and error. That’s a fresh point of view."

30. The Last O.G.

  • Network: TBS

Tracy Morgan is ex-con Tray Leviticus Barker, who's in for quite a surprise when he gets released from prison after 15 years. When he returns to a gentrified neighborhood and discovers that his ex-girlfriend (played by Tiffany Haddish) is married to someone else, he decides to make a genuine effort to become a better man.

While discussing Tray's journey with Decider, Morgan said, "We always say in the show, '[Getting a] second chance is a beautiful thing.' The message can’t just throw somebody away because they're incarcerated. We all make mistakes. [It's about] love and forgiveness."

31. One on One

  • Network: UPN

Flex, or shall we say the “Fladap” man, is a successful sportscaster and ladies’ man who struggles to raise his outspoken daughter, Breanna, as a single dad in Baltimore. It’s always heartwarming to see how this daddy-daughter relationship evolves, but it's even more fun to see so many notable guest stars, like Laila Ali, Chris Brown and Method Man, to name a few.

Fun fact: Following the sitcom's five-season run, UPN aired a spin-off series called Cuts, which follows the life of Flex's stepbrother, Kevin Barnes, who balances fatherhood with maintaining his local barbershop.

32. Grown-ish

  • Network: Freeform

After living in her cozy little bubble, Andre and Bow’s oldest daughter, Zoey (Yara Shahidi), heads off to college and quickly learns that her journey to adulthood is going to be far from simple. It’s impossible to resist the timely commentary, the love triangles and, of course the talented cast.

While discussing the series with Refinery 29, Marcus Scribner, who joined the cast in season five, said, "What's so exciting about Grown-ish is all of the different intersecting storylines. Whether it's Justine Skye's character Annika, who's super driven and trying to become this successful sort of political figure… Then you have Zeke, the student athlete who's struggling with balancing school and football and life. There's just so many interesting new dynamics and characters."

33. The Ms. Pat Show

  • Network: BET+

Created by Jordan E. Cooper and based on the real-life story of comedian Patricia Williams (aka Ms. Pat), the series follows Patricia, a convicted felon turned suburban mom who lives with her family in Plainfield, Indiana. Pat's comedic reactions and unfiltered one-liners will make you chuckle non-stop.

In her interview with the Huffington Post, Ms. Pat said, “There’s always been an audience there for the type of mom that I am on TV and in real life, but people were like, ‘We couldn’t dare have a woman saying those words or acting like that.’ But when you see Black mamas portrayed and you at the house, like, ‘That ain’t my damn mama. When they gonna put a mama on TV that look like me or sound like my mama?’ Finally we got one, which was me.”

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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...