Nostalgia is high, as what’s old is new again. A bevy of Black shows have returned to the public eye after they’ve been picked up by Netflix and it’s caused a lot of our favorite stars from our favorite shows over the years to trot down memory lane. But there’s one show that still is a perennial fan favorite, yet to get a reboot or anything – Living Single.
Netflix’s “Strong Black Lead” initiative has made Netflix the unofficial home for classic Black sitcoms that ran on the UPN network during the early 2000’s. Going off the air decades ago, a lot of the shows that people know and loved couldn’t be seen anywhere, thanks to licensing issues. However, after much tweeting and otherwise, Netflix heard the call and flew into action.
Starting with the classic sitcom Moesha, which starred singer Brandy, 6 other classic shows are coming to the service, with much fanfare from some of their stars from way back when. The Game, Sister Sister, Girlfriends, The Parkers, Half & Half and One on One were all added throughout the month of October.
Countess Vaughan, who played Kim Parker on The Parkers, shared one of her experiences over the years that she felt would have jeopardized her career at such an early age – becoming pregnant. At the start of The Parkers, Vaughan was just 18 years old, knowing that such a big decision would have an outsized impact on her just-then budding career.
“I had an unwanted pregnancy. I had just started my TV show,” she recalled during a 2014 episode of her TV show Hollywood Divas. “I knew that in black Hollywood a girl having a baby, they’d get rid of you.” Ultimately, Vaughan decided to terminate the pregnancy.
“I had to make a decision to get rid of the child for my career because I knew from the jump that if I let any of them know what was going on, they would have cancelled my show.”
Black talent is consistently mistreated in this business, whether it be 20 years ago or now. They’re often relegated to taking the abuse that the country hands out, because of their simple desire to work and be the best in their industries. When Black people being to speak up for themselves in the entertainment business, they are often removed or judged unfairly.
Such was the case for Erika Alexander, she shared, as her being cast on the hit show was almost undone – due to some overzealous executives. The show, a hit during its run, is often touted as the predecessor to Friends and featured an all-Black cast in a primetime spot during one of the high times for Black people in television.
“I was told that one of the big head honchos, after the table read, said ‘Hey, we’re going to have to get rid of Erika because she’s not doing well at this table read,’” with her then sharing that it was threatened that she would be replaced – despite the fact that she had just been cast the day before.
“I don’t know how I couldn’t not do well, since I had just auditioned the day before and got hired,” she said.
Luckily, Alexander seemed to have already have fans in the room who advocated for her – including another executive.
“There was another head honcho who called him out and said, ‘If you say anything about Erika Alexander, I’ll beat you’re a**,’” she also added at the end.
Of course, she would come to inhabit the character known as Maxine Shaw, “Attorney at Law,” and we’ve been fans of hers ever since.