Saturday, February 26, 2005

Things To Do For Black History Month Day 26

Things To Do For Black History MonthDay 26: Watch A "UPN Show"

UPN is a network that is hated on immensely by Aaron McGruder in his comic strip The Boondocks. While many black people watch this network, a vocal minority of African-Americans (and a majority of whites) don't like it and avoid it like the plague. However, I think that the shows on this network are not as bad as people think. And as much as I like The Boondocks, McGruder's attacks on UPN are outdated. The Parkers got cancelled last season, for crying out loud.

I am not going to say that every black show on this Viacon-owned network is high quality. However, there are shows that are actually pretty good on this network. Here is what I think is worth watching (at least once):

Half and Half: I think this is the best of the UPN comedies. It's about two half-sisters, record executive Mona and "boudgy" law student Dee Dee. The supporting characters include Mona's mother Phyllis (played by Telma Hopkins), Dee Dee's mother "Big" Dee Dee (played by Valarie Pettiford), and Mona's childhood friend Spencer (played by Chico Benymon). Obba Babatunde and MC Lyte have recurring roles as Mona and Dee Dee's father and as Mona's boss respectively. This show is pretty funny and it's produced by Yvette Lee Bowser (who also created and produced Living Single). This is a show that has gotten a lot better from its premiere and keeps buffoonery and stereotypes to a minimum (save for that gay Asian guy).

Eve: In this comedy, Eve plays Shelley, a woman who along with her friends (played by Ali Landry and Natalie Desselle) owns a fashion boutique in Miami. Jason George (Eve's cheating boyfriend in the original Barbershop) plays J.T. her on-again/off-again beau. Brian Hooks and Sean Maguire round out the cast as J.T.'s friends. This show is a nice, adult oriented relationship comedy. Unlike some other black shows, the white characters aren't treated like second-class "token" characters. Like Half and Half, this show is not silly, but pretty funny.

Second Time Around: Real-life couple Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Parker have good chemistry on this show about a couple who got married, divorced, and are now married again. It's another comedy about adults and contains not a buffoon in the bunch. It's a brand new show this season, so if it stays on, I think it can only get better.

I think UPN gets a bad rep because of what it used to show. This is the network that put shows like Shasta McNasty (about white rappers), Homeboys In Outer Space (a show whose title made people hate it), The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer (about a smart black butler working for Abraham Lincoln), and of course The Parkers (a spinoff of Moesha) on the air. When you have shows like this, it makes sense that people would hate the network. I admit that I got to the point that I couldn't so much as watch a second of The Parkers. I think that that show wasted Mo'Nique's talents and that it was so silly at times it was like a cartoon. In fact, The Proud Family, a cartoon on The Disney Channel, had an episode that poked fun at both Moesha and The Parkers. However, the current crop of UPN shows is not that bad. Frankly, I'd rather watch Half and Half or Eve than awful white shows like Yes, Dear, Rodney, or Quintuplets. And although I didn't talk about them, shows like All of Us, Girlfriends, and Kevin Hill have their charms sometimes as well.

I end this by suggesting you check out one of the three shows I've listed. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that these shows are not as low-brow, bottom-feeding, or stereotypical as you've been lead to believe.

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