Sitcoms like Martin, Living Single, A Different World, Sanford and Son and more recent series like black-ish come to mind if you’re asked to name the funniest ones ever. The reason many of these shows have endured over time is that they’ve developed memorable characters, presented hilarious situations, and dealt with serious subjects in a light-hearted manner while still finding the humor in the situation. These standout comedies have showcased the best of the best when it comes to black comedians and actors.
The ’90s were a great decade for television, especially for comedies with black leads, with shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Kenan and Kel, and The Jamie Foxx Show giving us modern classics like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The 1990s were a great decade for sitcoms, but even better series have emerged in the 2000s and 2010s, ones that are more innovative and witty. Listed below are a number of suggestions for new sitcoms to add to your watch list, so take your pick!
1. Black-ish (2014-)
Black-ish is a comedy starring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross about an upper-middle-class black family. While dealing with typical American family issues, it also deals with problems unique to a black American family, the story follows Dre (Anderson) and Rainbow (Ellis Ross). Once Black-ish premiered in 2014, it quickly became one of the network’s most well-received and widely watched shows ever since. Grown-ish and mixed-ish, the show’s spinoff series, are currently airing on television.
When it comes to social issues, Black-ish isn’t afraid to take on topics like racism and police brutality. I’ve seen the show tackle these issues humorously and with the goal of igniting difficult conversations about them, and it’s always been successful.
2. Everybody Hates Chris (2005-2009)
Everyone hates Chris, a web series based on Chris Rock’s adolescence that he created and narrated. The story takes place in the 1980s, and the show premiered that year. Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold star as Chris’ parents in the comedy series Everybody Hates Chris. There are a lot of funny characters Chris meets on a daily basis at school or in his neighborhood, so most of his adventures revolve around those encounters.
Tyler Chris is brilliantly played by James Williams, who perfectly embodies the character’s awkward nerdiness. In addition, he’s a very likeable protagonist. Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold, however, are the true stars of Everybody Hates Chris. They’re both likable characters with a lot of depth. I’d happily watch an entire show devoted to them and their antics if one were made.
3. That’s So Raven (2003-2007)
Raven-Symone, Orlando Brown, and Anneliese van der Pol star in the Disney Channel original series That’s So Raven. Raven’s brother Cory is played by Kyle Massey, and Raven’s parents Tanya and Victor are played by T’Keyah Crystal Keymah and Rondell Sheridan, respectively. Psychic abilities are something Raven has, according to the premise of the show. Every time she has a dream, it usually ends in misadventure, a disguise, and a valuable lesson for her.
As a family-oriented sitcom, That’s So Raven has a fair amount of slapstick humor, but it also tackles important issues facing teens and Americans in general, such as body image and racism. Raven’s Home, a Disney spin-off series following an adult Raven raising her children with her best friend Chelsea, premiered in 2017. (Anneliese van der Pol). To this day, That’s So Raven continues to be a classic family sitcom because it’s kid-friendly while also delivering important life lessons to viewers of all ages.
4. The Bernie Mac Show (2001-2006)
Here is a comedy starring comedian Bernie Mac, based on a true story. The series, which debuted in 2001, depicted Bernie Mac as a traditional parent. His out-of-date parenting style, as a result, frequently clashes with current trends and what’s best for his family’s well-being.
During each episode of The Bernie Mac Show, we see Bernie going through a learning process alongside the kids. To help narrate and navigate the situations set up in each episode, the show had a unique sitcom style, with Bernie frequently addressing “America” straight into the camera’s lens. A family-friendly version of Bernie Mac’s stand-up comedic style is presented in The Bernie Mac Show. It’s still a lot of fun to watch and see who will come up in the future.
5. South Side (2019-)
Comedy Central’s show South Side takes place in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. They deal with the South Side of Chicago’s dangerous area while trying to scheme their way to the top, as Simon (Sultan Salahuddin) and Kareem (Kareme Young) do in the film. On several occasions, they play repossession agents, and their antics in trying to reclaim rented equipment are amusing.
One thing that has always irritated me about the South Side’s portrayal on television and in movies, having grown up in Englewood, is how much emphasis is placed on the area’s crime and danger. It can also serve as a gathering place for friends and family, as well as a source of amusement. Despite the chaos and danger, South Side manages to find humor while also showcasing some of the city’s unique characteristics. The show has a distinct Chicago vibe, but it’s also relatable to any city with a high crime rate.
You can watch it on Comedy Central by clicking this link. (Note that only the first three episodes of South Side are free to watch; the rest of season 1 is available only with a membership.)
6. The Carmichael Show (2015-2017)
Jerrod Carmichael plays himself in The Carmichael Show, which depicts his life and family in a fictitious manner. With Amber Stevens West, Lil Rel Howery and Tiffany Haddish as the main actors and Loretta Devine as the supporting actress, the show ran on NBC for three seasons before it was cancelled. The Carmichael Show, like shows like Black-ish, isn’t afraid to tackle tough subjects.
Carmichael, his girlfriend, and members of his family spend a lot of time on the show debating hot-button issues of the day, such as consent in sexual activity and being unpatriotic. Jerrod Carmichael and his girlfriend Maxine (Amber Stevens West) are the sensible characters on The Carmichael Show, while the rest of his family goes to new extremes of absurdity and hilarity.
7. Girlfriends (2000-2008)
Girlfriends is a comedy centered on four close pals. The show, which starred Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, Persia White, and Jill Marie Jones, ran for eight seasons on UPN and The CW before moving to the latter network. The focus of Girlfriends was on a group of very different friends who came together during some of life’s most difficult times. The show tackled issues that affect all women, as well as those that are unique to each character, such as marriage, divorce, and work problems.
The Game, a nine-season spin-off of Girlfriends starring Tia Mowry, was just as popular. Girlfriends was a huge hit because it featured strong, diverse female leads who discussed issues that black women face on a regular basis and were given a platform to do so.
8. The Boondocks (2005-2014)
Even though it aired for several years on Adult Swim, The Boondocks was an animated satirical sitcom with only five seasons and 55 episodes. The show parodies current events, such as the R. Kelly trial and the BET network, while also addressing issues affecting Americans, particularly African-Americans. Gary Anthony Williams, John Witherspoon, and Regina King all lend their voices to The Boondocks.
The Boondocks enjoys stirring up debate by making fun of controversial subjects and putting them on display. Black people’s behavior and responses to specific situations are also criticized. Not everyone will enjoy this show, but those who are interested in black culture will find its sharp wit and refreshing take on the subject compelling.
9. My Wife And Kids (2001-2005)
My Wife and Kids features Damon Wayans and Tisha Campbell-Martin. Throughout the series, Michael (Wayans) goes to great lengths to teach his family a lesson by doing whatever it takes. Wayans and Campbell-Martin are fantastic as Michael and Jay, but the three kids steal the show.
Veteran comedians and actors usually play the parents in family sitcoms, and as a result, they usually steal the show. A notable exception to this is My Wife and Kids, in which the child actors (George O. Gore II, Jennifer Freeman, and Parker Mckenna Posey) often steal back the episodes they originally stole from the adults.
10. The Proud Family (2001-2005)
There were two seasons of The Proud Family on Disney Channel in the early and mid-2000s. In 2020, Disney+ announced that it would produce a new season of the popular animated series. Kyla Pratt, Karen Malina White, Paula Jai Parker, Tommy Davidson, and Soleil Moon Frye all lend their voices to The Proud Family.
There are a lot of likeable and funny characters in The Proud Family, making it a fun show to watch. As Penny (Pratt) tries to understand and adjust to the typical struggles of growing up, she is frequently the focus of each episode.
11. Chewing Gum (2015-2017)
Chewing Gum is a British sitcom that Michaela Coel created and stars in. It follows Tracey (Michaela Coel), a mischievous teen who comes to terms with accepting her sexuality and tries out sex for the first time. It’s also about her overbearing mother and overprotective sister.
In addition to being well-acted and intelligently written, Chewing Gum is also a unique series that takes a refreshing approach to introducing and welcoming sexual exploration. Michaela Coel in particular shines in it, and her performance is a sure sign that she’s a rising star.
12. One On One (2001-2006)
Flex Anderson and Kyla Pratt are the main characters in One on One. For five seasons, the story revolved around a single father who was suddenly forced to become a full-time parent to his daughter Breanna (Pratt). While Breanna was playing the stereotypical adolescent girl, Flex was trying to figure out how to be a good father figure.
It’s a fun show to watch for the simplicity and the loving relationship between Breanna and Flex, but One on One had typical sitcom tropes and character archetypes. One on One airs on Bounce every Sunday at 8 a.m. ET, but seasons aren’t currently available to watch online.
Hopefully, the next two decades will bring even more entertaining sitcoms with black protagonists. More series that are different, inclusive, and offer a new perspective are desperately needed.
I’ve lived all over Illinois, including Evanston, where I went to college. I’ve always loved pop culture, especially television, and I’ve turned that love into a career as a writer who covers everything in the entertainment industry. You can find me emulating Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen when I’m not writing about pop culture.