I miss 90’s television. I miss a lot of things about the 90’s but the one thing that stands out the most was the quality of black representation in the media. We had a multitude of shows to pick from like Family Matters, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Martin, The Wayans Brothers and so on.
My favorite show from that era was Fox’s Living Single. It was a show revolving around six friends living in New York.
Ooops, my bad. Let me start over.
It was a show revolving around six black friends living in New York (so that there’s no confusion, even though Living Single started first. Just sayin’)
There was Khadijah James, founder and editor of Hip Hop magazine Flavor. Khadijah’s cousin Synclaire who was sweet, but a bit ditzy. Regine, the gold digging, wig wearing glamour girl from East Orange, NJ . Max, the powerful attorney with an appetite for men, money and mooching. Kyle, the smooth, successful stockbroker who loved his heritage as much as he loved the ladies. And Overton, the lovable superintendent at the brownstone where they all lived who was also Synclaire’s main squeeze.
When the show ended in 1998 it began the decline of black television. There were a few shows that tried to keep the tradition of quality writing and acting going but after The CW acquired UPN the void was felt when we were only left with Everybody Hates Chris, a show that was good but suffered from constant schedule changes that prevented people from knowing exactly what night it came on.
All of the actors from the show have remained sustainable in their careers. But in regards to the characters they portrayed, had they been real people, what would they be up to now?
Khadijah James has gone from the sole proprietor of one of Hip Hop’s most resounding voices, Flavor Magazine, into becoming one of the most influential people of our time. Since taking Flavor internationally by launching versions in several African nations including Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana, Flavor can also be found across the pond in England with the heavily read UK Flavor.
Still, Flavor wasn’t enough for Khadijah. After marrying long-time boyfriend Terrence “Scooter” Williams and settling in Atlanta at the turn of the century, Khadijah knew she needed more. She began a program for young girls called Hope For Tomorrow which empowered young women in the metropolitan Atlanta area with achieving their dreams and going after what will make them happy in life. After the birth of her daughter Khadijah felt like she was on top of the world. But tragedy struck when her husband Scooter was found in an Atlanta hotel room with NeNe Leakes, a popular stripper and notable hot mess of epic proportions. Embarrassed and unready for the media attention, Khadijah packed her bags, took her daughter and sought refuge at the home of multimillionaire trophy wife, and best friend, Regine Hunter-Knight.
Khadijah felt utterly betrayed by Scooter’s infidelity, and they remained separated for five years. As they co-parented they slowly rekindled their friendship and began to build upon the love that was still there. Then one night Scooter proposed to Khadijah and asked if they could renew their vows.
She said No and decided that the two of them should just remain friends. But a love like theirs couldn’t remain in the friend zone so he asked her everyday for a year until she finally said yes. On the day of their daughter’s 14th birthday the two of them renewed their vows.
Synclaire James-Jones won her first high paying role doing plays in Atlanta for an unknown playwright named Tyler Perry. Originally he cast her to be his main character Madea but became jealous of her performance because he knew that it would make her a superstar. Plus, he really wanted to wear the wig and boobs himself. So Synclaire ended up taking on the role of Christy in his first play The Brothas Done Left US For Becky! In the play Christy, played by Synclaire, is left brokenhearted when her skinny dark skinned boyfriend leaves her for the golden haired perky tittied Becky Alabaster. Christy seeks the comforting words of her grandmother Madea (Perry) who brandishes guns out of purses, curses and moonwalks across the stage to let Christy know that she deserves a better man. One act later Christy meets Marco, a beautiful light skinned Adonis with eight pack abs and a shirt so tight it looks like it’s painted on. They fall in love, Madea praises the Lord for the rest of the play while doing the Charleston in drag.
Synclaire would go on to star in four more early Tyler Perry plays, taking a break in 2004 to give birth to her twins Syncloverton and Overclaire. Unfortunately, that proved to be the biggest mistake of her life. Once television studios came knocking on Mr. Perry’s door there were offers for more money and more opportunities. But Mr. Perry didn’t want Synclaire to come along for the ride so he never reached out to her. And her phone calls were never returned. Broken, Synclaire’s normally happy spirit became interrupted with bouts of depression. With two young children and Overton’s demanding work schedule Synclaire turned to Prozac to keep her spirits up. She became addicted to the drug and lost a lot of weight, causing concern to her family. One night, as Diary of a Mad Black Woman played on the TV, Synclaire had had enough. She downed a whole bottle of Prozac and chased it with a glass of wine. Right before she fell unconscious Overton walked into the house and noticed her weakened state on the couch. He picked her up off the couch and rushed her to the hospital. The doctor’s pumped her stomach and Synclaire finally revealed to Overton how unhappy she had been. She agreed to see a therapist to deal with her depression. Two years later she was back to her normal self and had even started acting again. But not in any chitlin’ circuit plays like before. She landed her first role in an Off Broadway play titled The Road To Us.
After she received her first Tony award she proudly took the stage and said “I want to Thank God and my loving family. But most importantly, I want to Thank Tyler Perry for not calling me back.” The audience loved her from that day on.
Regine (formerly Regina aka NayNay) Hunter fought hard for years to find a man who was handsome, successful, rich and black. And she found all of these things when she married Dexter Knight. In true Regine fashion she had an opulent wedding on the beach in Turks and Caicos then moved into a beautiful mansion in upstate New York equipped with maids, butlers, chauffeurs and the kind of accessories that come with 1% living. Dexter made the money while Regine spent it. The early years were fun for a while, vacationing in Paris, hobnobbing with the rich and famous and basically doing nothing but shopping and eating fancy food. After the birth of her first son she attempted trying to raise him without the help of a nanny. But there were too many parties and social gatherings to attend so she slowly relinquished control of the child rearing to the professionals. After the birth of her second son she came to the realization that the nanny was paid to watch the children so she was a bit more hands off. By the time she had her third son, she was a front runner for the Worse Mother of the Century award. Regine became one of those types of people who grew up in the hood, came into money and then completely forgot how to act like a human being. She was a snobbish, narcissistic, apathetic trophy wife with zero fucks to give for the commoners . The only time she couldn’t get away with her haughty antics was around Khadijah, Synclaire and Max. Especially with Max, who would often refer to her as ‘Rusty’ (which was short for ‘The Rusty Trophy Wife’) or ‘Blob The Snob’.
Did I mention that Regine had gotten really fat? Like, really fat. Hey, when you have three kids you don’t take care of and spend the majority of your day shopping, doing lunch and drinking your ass tends to get wider.
The first liposuction procedure kept the weight off for about three years. But then after the birth of her fourth and final child, a daughter, the pounds came back. She hired a personal trainer and that kept the weight off for good. One night at a fundraiser for then Senator Obama something drastically changed inside of Regine. As she looked around the room and thought to herself ‘I fought so hard to get here….and now I’m just here. I’m just like everybody else.’ she began to question what she was doing with her life.
For years she prided herself on her uniqueness but then realized that now she was no longer unique. Troubles at home with her sons’ behavior and the fact that she was a more attentive mother to her daughter caused many arguments with she and Dexter behind the scenes of their picture perfect facade. As she and Dexter rode home that night in the back of their Phantom Regine began to cry. Dexter held her hand as she explained to him that she loved him, and loved her life but knew that she had forgotten how to love who she was before she acquired everything she had. By the end of that ride the two of them talked for the first time about many things going on in their lives and how they felt about their marriage. In the following months Regine spent more time with Dexter and their children and attended less social functions to work with Khadijah’s charity Hope For Tomorrow. With Regine’s connections both she, Khadijah, Synclaire and Max implemented an annual charity event titled Tomorrow’s Promise which raises over a million dollars for Hope For Tomorrow. As of 2014, Regine Hunter-Knight is still a snob, but she’s no longer just existing. And she’s a lot happier for it.
Maxine Shaw, attorney at law became Maxine Shaw-Barker a year after she had Kyle’s daughter, even though she didn’t use her married name. She actually preferred to never use her married name because it served as a constant reminder that she was Kyle’s wife. Despite their at times contentious marriage their union worked well. And they both loved their daughter Kya. And because of their lucrative careers, Kyle as a Vice President at a huge Manhattan brokerage firm and Max as the New York City District Attorney, money was never an issue for them. One of the benefits from their financial freedom was the ability to travel. On numerous occasions they would take Kya on trips to Europe and Africa, but one of their favorite destinations was Cape Town. They soaked up the culture and made it a point to always visit Robben Island to instill in Kya the importance of fortitude and standing up for what you believe in.
Max was a constant representation of sophistication and pride in her approach to being the District Attorney. She made it her point to thoroughly investigate all criminal cases that were fallible in their evidence yet would reign down hard justice whenever there was a heinous crime, regardless of the person’s skin color. She believed in being fair all the time. She also provided advisory services for cases such as Jena Six, The BMF indictments and various Stand Your Ground law cases, including the highly publicized Trayvon Martin case.
Although she was tireless in her pursuit of justice for all people there was no issue more pressing for her than the rights of same sex couples and the LGBTQ community as a whole. Because of her aggressive nature many believed her to be a lesbian, which was a stereotype that she turned the mirror around on people all the time, especially African Americans, by stating “You thinking I’m a lesbian because I’m an aggressive woman is as ridiculous as me thinking you’re on welfare because you’re black. What should it matter anyway?” The gay community loved her. And when it was time for her to run for Judge, with the help of the gay community, she won by a landslide.
Whenever she can Max insists that both Kya and Kyle are present when she presides over a same-sex marriage. Her intent through her behavior in life and for standing for the things she believes in is to teach her daughter that you can be whoever you want and inspire others through the act of just being yourself.
And Kya is paying attention.
Overton Wakefield Jones left his job as superintendent at the Brooklyn brownstone to move to Atlanta with Synclaire at the turn of the century. As she pursued her dream of becoming an actress he took on a job as a building supervisor at a posh high rise in Buckhead. When his twins were born, and Synclaire’s acting career came to a standstill, he had to take on another job to supplement her loss of income. During the day he held a part time gig at Home Depot and at night he worked his building supervisor job, which kept them afloat and provided medical coverage. Overton had become very friendly with one of the tenants of the high rise, a Real Estate agent who on one occasion asked him if he would be interested in an upcoming real estate opportunity. A month later Overton began taking classes to get his real estate license. With the help of Synclaire, who’s acting slump was finally over, Overton began buying old houses and fixing them up to sell them for three times more than what he paid for them. His ability to flip houses brought in so much money that soon enough he was able to quit both of his jobs.
After Synclaire began acting again she split her time between New York and Atlanta, sometimes leaving Overton and the twins at home to fend for themselves. Overton was a good dad, but he would sometimes feel lonely when Synclaire wasn’t around. As her career skyrocketed she suggested that they move back to New York with the twins, but Overton’s business was in Atlanta. This caused a great strain on their marriage as they constantly fought about their careers, the twins and what the best solution would be. Eventually the fights became more infrequent as the two of them realized that each was finally living their dream. They decided to make it work and kept their love for their children, and for each other, the driving force behind their success.
Kyle Barker‘s life was amazing. With a financially satisfying job as a Vice President at a Manhattan brokerage firm, a beautiful daughter Kya, and his hatefully loving wife Max he appeared to have everything a man could need to be happy. But still, he wasn’t satisfied. On his 40th birthday, surrounded by all of his family and friends during a huge party, Kyle announced that he was leaving his job to become a jazz singer. As her champagne flute shattered on the floor Max screamed “What the hell?!” Khadijah turned to grab her coat and leave, followed by Synclaire and Overton. But Regine remained.
“Uh Uh. I’m not missing this!” She said, laughing and sipping her champagne. But Khadijah came back and escorted her away from the battle zone.
Kyle explained to Max that his dream was to be a jazz singer and even though he had been very successful as a stock broker he was finally financially fit to pursue his dream.
“Man, you better wake up!” Max replied. But after a week of being shocked and angry she eventually supported him. And then after a week of Kyle being angry at Max for not supporting him in the first place things went back to normal.
Kyle’s first performance was during a jazz fest in Brooklyn near the old Brownstone he and Overton used to live in. Regine, Dexter and their kids came out to support him, as did Overton with the twins, but Synclaire and Khadijah couldn’t make it due to prior engagements. As Kyle stepped on stage and began to sing there were technical issues with the microphone and speakers. Then suddenly the speakers hurled a huge screeching feedback sound into the audience causing everyone to jolt. And then someone started to boo.
“Max stop! Support your man!” Regine said, because Max was the only one booing. After the technical issues went away the rest of Kyle’s set ran smoothly. It was, in fact, so smooth that afterwards he was asked to sing with the band during a benefit concert featuring Dianne Reeves and Rachelle Ferrell. On that night Overton and Synclaire and Khadijah were there, but Regine couldn’t make it.
Kyle killed it. And more bookings came, more singing engagements and then Kyle began to work on his first CD. A year later Kyle was doing shows all over the United States. He had amassed a huge following of jazz purists and was constantly working.
And then the Grammy nomination came.
“Damn!” Max said after his name was announced. She then turned to him. “I guess you’re not gonna stop this shit now are you?”
He just smiled at her.