I don’t know about you, but laid back, nontraumatic-drama filled shows where no one is being killed, the world isn’t ending, or any devastating event that might become stress inducing for the viewers–is needed healing.
Why you may ask? Well ever since the pandemic, the demand for feel good sitcoms that bring peace and not stress has never been greater. While the pandemic was at its peak, life was and still is uniquely stressful considering our ever-changing circumstances. I would wake up daily not knowing if I would have a job and/or if I was going to receive bad news about a friend or family member’s health. This constant unknown turmoil felt like I was living in fear, anxiety, and starring in a science fiction disaster film everyday. So whenever I did have a moment to turn the TV on, I wanted to watch something that was the complete opposite of my reality, and allowed me to peacefully escape. A sitcom.
That is exactly the purpose of good quality sitcoms. They are supposed to keep you laughing while building strong connections with the characters you love–while still having a dabble of drama here and there. Feel good sitcoms with calm drama, brings back the love we have for human connection. It also gives you space for your brain to relax and not have to think too hard about what’s going on. It is almost like you are simply a fly on the wall enjoying the banter between friends and family. And it hits even better when the cast are mostly Black and/or the show was produced by Black people.
While I was able to watch reruns of 90s sitcoms, it definitely had me thinking how rare good quality sitcoms are nowadays. That is until the recent resurgence of feel-good Blackness on TV:
“Abbott Elementary” is the main sitcom show everyone is raving about! Released in 2021 on Hulu, this show gives you a mock-umentary glimpse into teachers lives at a Philadelphia elementary school. Now, clearly the school is struggling financially, but somehow the teachers and staff still make it work for the kids. With its peaceful and relaxing approach, you will instantly fall in love with each character for their own unique personality and character development. (AND it has Quinta Brunson making history at this year’s Emmys!)
Another sitcom that you should check out if you haven’t already is “The Wonder Years” released in 2021 on Hulu. Briefly, it is a coming-of-age recap of a 12 year old Black boy growing up in the 60s. As we get a glimpse of his life we get to see the cringy, humorous, and embarrassing moments he has with his friends and family, while also exposing how he navigated racism during those times. Despite covering both light and heavy topics, this show still delivers it with soft hands so that it still feels good and comfortable watching with the whole family.
Next we have the modern day re-make of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” called “Bel-Air” which is now streaming on Peacock. Sometimes remakes water down what was a great show, but I was NOT disappointed. Bel-Air carries its own energy and unique twist which preserves and separates itself from The Fresh Prince entirely. It might even inspire you to revisit the original series which is also streaming on HBO Max.
Last and certainly not least, is “Grand Crew” now streaming on Hulu and Peacock. Join six friends as they handle the ups and downs of life over wine at their favorite bar. Not only does the writing of this show manage to handle heavy topics like Black masculinity and racism, it also manages to be incredibly goofy. The light-heartedness literally makes you feel like you’re in a group chat with your besties that never ends.
In the Black community, we deserve the chance to forget–even for a moment–the inescapable pressures of existing in the world as it is now. These shows, whether based in an elementary school or on being sent to California for a new life…Are not only funny, but grant us an experience to enjoy and heal as a culture.
Honorable mentions: Grown-ish, Black AF, Young Rock, The Upshaws, and All American, American Auto!
Thessiana Shama Mesilus merges the art of storytelling and psychology throughout her content. She founded Shama Works that serves as a creative platform to help individuals lead, grow, and heal from within or wherever there is a story to be heard.