Top 10 Black Sitcoms

Black sitcoms have provided TV audiences with laughs for decades. While most dealt with the traditional comedic subject matter, oftentimes shows tackled real-life issues that would provide laughs but also leave a lasting impact.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the Internet Movie Databases’s (IMDb) top-rated Black sitcoms. The site offers information on movies, tv shows, actors, producers, etc…that’s provided by regular users and from those within the entertainment industry.

10. What’s Happening!!

Aired: ABC, 1976-1979

Cast: Ernest Thomas, Danielle Spencer, Haywood Nelson



IMDb Rating: 7.0

What’s Happening!! premiered on ABC during the summer of 1976 and was about three Black youths who “learn about life, love, friendship, credit cards, gambling, and a variety of other things while growing up in an inner city,” according to IMDB. The show was a hit in syndication and spawned a spin-off series called What’s Happening Now!!

9. Girlfriends

Aired: UPS/CW, 2000-2008

Cast: Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, Jill Marie Jones, Persia White, Reggie Hayes

IMDb Rating: 7.1

Often described as the Black Sex & the City, Girlfriends centered on four successful African-American women juggling friendship, love and careers. Fans of the show were able to identify with the ladies and tried to determine if they were Joan Clayton, the neurotic but lovable attorney, to restaurateur Toni Childs, the fabulous but vain real estate agent Maya Wilkes, executive assistant turned author, or the free spirit Lynn Searcy among their group of friends.

The show was once the longest-running African-American sitcom on television before its abrupt cancellation in 2008.

8. Black-ish

Aired: ABC, 2014- Present

Cast: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Jenifer Lewis, Miles Brown, Marcus Scribner, Marsai Martin and Laurence Fishburne

IMDb Rating: 7.1

Black-ish is a very smart comedy by writer and producer Kenya Burris. The show offers an interesting take on what it’s like being Black in America by showing that blackness isn’t monolithic. The show follows Andre “Dre” Johnson Sr. (Anthony Anderson) and Dr. Rainbow “Bow” Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross) raising their five kids. The show is continuously relevant and not afraid to address topics of racism, the N-word, the 2016 presidential election and even postpartum depression. 

Tracee Ellis Ross earned a Golden Globe for her portrayal as Dr. Rainbow Johnson, and a spin-off series called Grown-ish premiered in 2018 starring Yara Shahidi on Freeform. 

7. One-on-One

Aired: UPN, 2001-2006

Cast: Flex Alexander, Kyla Pratt, Robert Ri’Chard, Sicily

IMDb Rating: 7.2

One-on-One starred Flex Alexander as a sportscaster who had to readjust his life when his teenage daughter Breanna (Kyla Pratt) comes and lives with him in Baltimore. The show aired on UPN for five seasons.

6. The Wayans Brother

Aired: The WB, 1995-1999

Cast: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, John Witherspoon, Anna Marie Horsford

IMDb Rating: 7.3

The Wayans Brothers was one of the first shows that helped launch the WB television network in 1995. The show starred Shawn and Marlon Wayans as brothers who ran a newsstand in New York City, where they interacted with their father “Pops” played by John Witherspoon. The series ended abruptly after its fifth season and did not have a proper finale.

5. Living Single

Aired: On Fox 1993-1998

Cast: Queen Latifah, Kim Coles, Erika Alexander, Kim Coles, T.C. Carson, John Henton

IMDb Rating: 7.3

When Living Single premiered in 1993, it gave 20-something Black viewers a chance to see themselves on screen. The show centered around six friends living in Brooklyn as they navigated love, friendship, sex and their careers.

It also was the inspiration behind the hit NBC sitcom Friends, which also features six friends, living in New York City. 

Fans who can’t get enough of the show can watch the whole series on Hulu.

4. Martin

Aired: Fox, 1992-1997

Cast: Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, Tichina Arnold, Thomas Ford, Carl Anthony Payne

IMDb Rating: 7.4

Martin is the quintessential Black sitcom and helped usher in a wave of classic sitcoms geared toward African-Americans in the 1990s. The show starred Martin Lawrence as Martin Payne, a DJ living in Detroit with his girlfriend, Gina (Tisha Campbell), and revolved around his relationships with her, her best friend Pam and his friends. The show was at its best whenever Martin and Pam butt heads, which was always, or whenever Lawrence portrayed the loud and feisty Sheneneh Jenkins, who frequently gathered the group with her sharp quips.

3. The Cosby Show

Aired: NBC, 1984-1992

Cast: Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Lisa Bonet, Tempestt Bledsoe, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Sabrina Le Beauf, Raven Symoné

IMDb Rating: 7.4

When The Cosby Show premiered in 1984, it became one of the biggest hits on television and one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. The show centered on the Huxtables, an upper-middle class Black family living in Brooklyn. It starred Bill Cosby as Heathcliff Huxtable, an obstetrician raising his five kids with his wife, Claire, an attorney, played by the divine Phylicia Rashad. For many viewers, it was the first time seeing an upper-middle class Black family on television.

The show won six Emmy Awards and Cliff Huxtable was named television’s greatest dad by TV Guide.

2. The Jeffersons

Aired: CBS, 1975-1985

Cast: Sherman Hemsley, Isabel Sanford, Marla Gibbs

IMDB Rating: 7.5

The Jeffersons followed a well-to-do African-American family as they moved into a luxury apartment in Manhattan. The show became the second longest-running African-American sitcom on television, airing 254 episodes in the 10 years it was on the air. It was a spin-off of another wildly successful CBS show, All in the Family.

1. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Aired: NBC, 1990-1996

Cast: Will Smith, James Avery, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali, Janet Hubert-Whitten, Daphne Maxwell Reid, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell

IMDb Rating: 7.9

“In West Philadelphia born and raised…” Most people in the English-speaking world knows the theme song of the classic NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The show starred Will Smith as a Philadelphia teen sent to live with his wealthy aunt, uncle and cousins in Bel-Air, a wealthy neighborhood in Los Angeles. 

Despite its hilarious moments, the show dealt with gun violence, drug use and issues of race. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air showed the world that Smith wasn’t only a rapper, but an actor who would later become one of the biggest movie stars in the world.

Honorable Mention

A Different World

Aired: NBC, 1987-1993

Cast: Lisa Bonet, Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison, Dawnn Lewis, Cree Summer, Jada Pinkett

IMDb Rating: 6.9

A Different World had many wanting to attend the fictional Hillman College. The show, a spinoff of The Cosby Show, initially centered around Denise Huxtable, as she navigated a historically Black college.

The show dealt with pressing issues such as sexual assault, the HIV/AIDS epidemic and racial profiling, all while depicting college life at an HBCU. 

Lisa Bonet’s left the show after the first season and the show shifted to focus on Whitley Gilbert (Jasmine Guy) and Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison) as they navigated not only college but their romantic relationship.



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