You can’t go wrong with these best Black sitcoms if you want to sit down and catch some good old-fashioned family drama and comedy. Whether you’re looking for heartwarming family antics or social humor, these African American sitcoms address real issues, and the storytelling is on point too.
If it’s been a while since you’ve visited some of your favorite Black families on television, it’s time to fire up the popcorn, grab the family, and sit down for some excellent entertainment with these best Black sitcoms of all time.
Roc, a Baltimore-area garbage collector, won hearts with his cheapskate nature and hilarious relationship with deadbeat brother Joey. Routinely bringing home “treasures” for his wife Eleanor, Roc was determined to see the sunny side of life at all times.
Although Roc tended to skew on the lighter side of things, it addressed significant issues like gang violence and drugs, hitting the sweet spot between comedy and valuable commentary.
That’s So Raven
Arguably one of the best Black sitcoms, That’s So Raven features a teenage girl with psychic abilities. What could go wrong, right? When you put the power of omnipotence in teenage hands, apparently quite a lot.
Despite her ability to mess things up royally, Raven Baxter is one of television’s lovable heroines, thanks to her sense of humor and many classic catchphrases. That’s So Raven also features physical comedy, a huge, hilarious plus.
If you grew up in the 80s, there’s no doubt that you remember Family Matters. This ultimate best Black sitcom featured the lovable Winslow family and was originally an off-shoot of Perfect Strangers. Some might argue that Family Matters stood on its own merits, though, and even eclipsed Perfect Strangers.
Breakout star Urkel remains one of the most quoted and beloved television characters. There’s no doubt that Family Matters had a massive impact on culture.
Tamera and Tia Mowry starred in this fantastic series about twins who find each other as teens. A wholesome show celebrating the importance of family and loyalty, Sister Sister managed to keep it light while still touching on true teenage drama and issues.
Sister Sister remains a nostalgic joy for people who grew up in the 1990s and is undoubtedly a great sitcom to rewatch.
Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper
Who hasn’t dreamt that they’d wind up with an NBA player for their gym coach? Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper took that dream and ran with it, featuring Mark Cooper as the previous NBA player. Hangin’ With My Cooper proved a massive prime-time hit, even winning a coveted TGIF spot.
It’s five seasons of fun and one of the best Black sitcoms ever.
The Famous Jett Jackson
Disney Channel’s The Famous Jett Jackson is a bit of a show within a show. The title character Jett Jackson plays the character of Silverstone, but the show isn’t about his career. Instead, it’s about his plain old life in North Carolina and balancing being a movie star with being an ordinary kid.
The Famous Jett Jackson is a great show because it takes a new spin on the “coming of age” story.
Brooklyn-based Living Single revolved around a group of friends living their lives in the big city. It was a more inclusive and realistic clap-back to Friends airing in the mid to late 1990s. If you haven’t given this gem of a show another shot, it’s time to binge on it.
Moesha is one of the best Black sitcoms ever because it expertly walked the line between being a show about a teenager and dealing with real-life issues like racism, sexism, and teenage pregnancy.
Moesha was a considerable success in its time, and you get to see mega-star Brandy exercise her acting chops. It’s a great show and one that you should watch with the whole family.
The Bernie Mac Show
The late, great Bernie Mac was a comedic genius that left us too soon, and The Bernie Mac Show is an example of fantastic family television with some of Bernie Mac’s signature humor thrown in.
When Bernie Mac gets custody of his sister’s kids, his whole world gets flipped upside down. It’s a quirky, warm, hilarious show that you’ll want to binge again and again.
One on One
What do you get when a part-time dad becomes a full-time caregiver to his daughter Breanna? Tons of hilarious antics and family drama. In One on One, Flex Alexander suddenly finds himself with sole custody of Breanna, a typical teen.
The series spans Baltimore to Los Angeles and featured plenty of star power like Brandy and Solange Knowles in guest appearances.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
If you’ve never seen The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, what are you doing with your life? This sitcom defined Black television, featuring a young Will Smith as the fresh prince sent to live with Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil.
There’s a wealth of wonder in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, from butler Geoffrey’s sardonic one-liners to Carlton’s dorky dancing. It’s still relevant and just as funny today.
In 2000, UPN released Girlfriends, a sitcom featuring Maya, Lynn, Toni, and Joan. Set in Los Angeles, Girlfriends featured strong, successful Black women overcoming obstacles through their determination and the power of friendship.
Girlfriends is an excellent bet if you’re looking for a great show to watch with your teenage daughter that champions strong Black women. Don’t be surprised if you power through the whole series in one go.
A lesser-known but still great Black sitcom, 227, is based on a play from the late 1970s set in Chicago. Like many of the other exceptional shows on our list, this one features several strong Black female leads. All of the characters are multi-dimensional, and while one of them was a spin-off from the Jeffersons, 227 stands firmly on its own merits.
With plenty of sassy dialogue and heartwarming storylines, 227 is a show you should give a chance.
The Steve Harvey Show
Featuring unemployed singer Steve Hightower, The Steve Harvey Show talks about the significant issues of family and making it on your own in the music business. Steve Hightower stars as a music teacher who has to leave the glitz and fame behind for the classroom.
Eventually, Steve Hightower teaches art, drama, and music, allowing him to forge deep bonds with many of his students. The show is tart, fun, and has plenty of exciting storylines to follow.
One of the greatest and best Black sitcoms ever, The Jeffersons, was a groundbreaking show that ran for an impressive 11 seasons. Many things set The Jeffersons apart, and one of the big ones is that its cast was almost all African-American.
The Jeffersons also broke many television barriers, including having a prominent interracial couple on the show. George and Louise Jefferson were wealthy, smart, and successful business owners living in Manhattan, excellent role models for Black youth and paving the way for other great shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Tyler Perry’s House of Payne
You might know Tyler Perry for his Madea movies, but have you ever seen his fabulous sitcom? Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, set in Atlanta, featured Ella, Curtis Payne, and their children. While the show dealt with goofy family drama themes and plenty of Tyler Perry’s trademark comedy, it also hit on other more critical themes.
Tyler Perry’s House of Payne touched on topics like drug addiction during a few episodes, always keeping it family-friendly but still wildly relevant.
The Cosby Show
Although Bill Cosby’s reputation as America’s dad and the famous Jello pudding man might be sullied now, we can still appreciate his early contributions to television. The Cosby Show was groundbreaking on tons of levels, specifically for portraying a successful African-American family when there wasn’t a lot of representation like that on television.
Clair and Cliff Huxtable were iconic characters, living in Brooklyn with five kids and dishing out plenty of laughs and drama. It’s not hyperbole to say that The Cosby Show brought Black success to the mainstream and contributed to many shows that followed.
A relatively new show, Raising Dion is one of Netflix’s breakout hits, featuring an adorable Dion with some incredible superpowers. The show centers around Dion’s mother, Nicole, tasked with dealing with Dion’s rising powers and keeping them from those who would do him harm.
The show dabbles in the supernatural while still keeping its feet on the ground regarding family dynamics. Nicole is fierce and fantastic as Dion’s protective mother, and there’s plenty of love to go around with this one.
Gimmie a Break!
Gimmie a Break! was an early 1980s sitcom featuring Nell Carter as the sassy, lovable housekeeper to a police officer and three daughters. The show has teen drama, withering one-liners, and a great dynamic between Nell and the girls.
Although initially set in California, this show moved to New York City, where Nell and the team picked up a few other kids. Keep your eyes peeled for plenty of celebrity cameos, including Danny Glover, Helen Hunt, and Rue McClanahan.
The Wonder Years
Although the original The Wonder Years featured an all-white cast, the 2021 revamp is one of the best Black sitcoms ever, replacing Kevin with Dean Williams and exploring the 1960s through an African-American lens.
As nostalgia-packed as the original, The Wonder Years features the same format; Dean Williams trying to navigate suburban life along with the trusty voiceover of Don Cheadle. It’s a lovely, light, wholesome show to enjoy.
In 1974, Good Times hit the little screen, breaking all sorts of boundaries. The lead couple was the first African-American team to star in the sitcom. While Black people were featured as secondary characters before, the storyline revolves around Florida and James Evans, a first for prime-time television.
Set in Chicago, Good Times follows the trials and tribulations of a family just trying to get by. The setting isn’t specified, but it was probably based upon Chicago’s Cabrini-Green. Florida and James keep it real with kid-friendly humor and an authentic look at working class struggles.
The Smart Guy
The W.B.’s The Smart Guy told the story of T.J. Henderson, a genius who had to navigate the nutty world of high schoolers as a 10-year-old boy. The show focuses on T.J.’s desire to fit in and use his smarts to get social credit in school.
If you have a kid who has trouble fitting in or feels like they’re different from their peers, The Smart Guy is a great family watch.
In The House
Featuring L.L. Cool J and Kim Wayans, In The House is a hilarious Black sitcom with a fun edge and plenty of cutting dialogue. Starring L.L. Cool J as Marion Hill, In The House, deals with a common sitcom trope; different people forced to live together.
When Marion Hill has to rent out part of his house due to money woes, he finds himself living with a single mom and two kids. Of course, hilarious misunderstandings and tons of drama ensue, ending with heartwarming acceptance.
Everybody Hates Chris
Get Everybody Hates Chris into your rotation ASAP if you love Chris Rock. Set in the nostalgic 1980s, the sitcom focuses on Chris Rock’s real-life stories as an awkward kid and teenager. The title is tongue-in-cheek; when you watch it, you’ll see that not everyone hates Chris, but people are understandably annoyed with him from time to time.
Everybody Hates Chris’ biting writing won it an NAACP Image Award, and it’s also been up for several television awards. You’ll find a lot of comedy and truth in Everybody Hates Chris, especially if you were a child of the 1980s.
Love That Girl!
A less popular Black sitcom that might have fallen off your radar Love That Girl! focuses on a realtor with big dreams. However, one of the things that puts Love That Girl! in a class of its own is that it features a brother and sister duo rather than a large family. You’ll get into the pair’s dynamics and possibly find similarities in your life.
While it’s mostly the story of Tyana Jones and her quest to start a new life, you’ll also see a lot of other characters from her childhood and work in exciting storylines. The show is fresh, fun, and matures well.
The Jamie Foxx Show
Like other sitcoms such as The Bernie Mac show, The Jamie Foxx Show relies on Jamie Foxx’s comedic chops to carry the show. Jamie King, a struggling musician, works at a hotel with several members of his family and a few essential extras and love interests.
As with plenty of shows that focus on the family business, The Jamie Foxx Show relies heavily on familial drama and comedy to carry along the plot. There are also plenty of subplots, including Jamie’s interest in “Fancy,” a gorgeous front desk worker he eventually marries after several seasons of courtship.
If you’re looking for groundbreaking television that holds up well, we humbly offer Diff’rent Strokes. This is the show that spawned a million memes and jokes, featuring Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges. The show’s protagonists, Wills and Arnold, live in Harlem and have to navigate their dynamic and systemic racism, eating disorders, and violence.
The show’s famous catchphrase “What you takin’ bout Willis” comes directly from Diff’rent Strokes. It’s a gem that holds up even today, so gather the family around and settle in for some great television with talented Black actors.
It’s not hyperbole to call Donald Glover a genius. From his incredible and relevant “This is America” to Atlanta, Glover’s social commentary and wit will make you both wince and laugh. Atlanta takes a bit of a different turn than some of the other sitcoms on our list, adding a dose of magical realism into the mix.
As Earn, Donald Glover spends much of the series trying to prove his worth to his ex and deal with the antics of his cousin and aspiring rapper Paper Boi. Each show is biting, realistic, and hilarious, and the sets are lovely. Atlanta is a true work of art.
UPN’s The Parkers is a nod to Moesha. It also portrays strong Black women in extraordinary ways, showcasing their grit and vulnerability. As college attendees, Nikki and Kim Parker, a mother-daughter duo, are at the center of The Parker’s universe.
The two attend classes together and even live in the same dorm. It’s a fun spin on teen comedy and a mother-daughter relationship.
Kenan and Kel
Nickelodeon’s Kenan and Kel is a slapsticky, fun romp headed by some powerful Black talent. If you loved All That, you’d fall head over heels for Kenan and Kel because it has the same vibe but with a more concrete storyline.
Kenan and Kel were always getting into mischief, making for some great television and opportunities for the two young comic titans to play off each other. It’s got enough storyline and humor to keep the adults interested, and the kids will love Kenan and Kel’s teenage antics.
Sanford and Son
One of the earliest and best Black sitcoms ever, Sanford and Son often dealt with challenging issues in a comedic and accessible fashion. However, although this show is arguably one of the best pieces of African-American-centric television ever, be warned; it doesn’t pull many punches.
Sanford and Son regularly deals with issues like racism, so if you’re watching it with young kids, you might need to explain some stuff afterward. There’s also some lighthearted family drama and the dynamic between the more hardheaded Sanford and his laid-back son.
Featuring Martin Lawrence, Martin is a tremendous Black sitcom that strikes some high notes today while hitting some tone-deaf ones too. Prepare for many laughs and a bit of cringe as Martin’s somewhat-sexist commentary seems out of place today.
Although Martin is the hero, you might find yourself siding with his long-suffering partner Gina as she cleans up Martin’s messes and makes sure that all is well at the end of the half-hour.
My Wife and Kids
Starring Damon Wayans, My Wife, and Kids deals with typical family drama and the balance of power between teens and adults. Many of the show’s storylines revolve around Michael Kyle (Wayans) relationship with his daughter and son and how appropriate boundaries work.
There are a few adult themes, but not much, and you can freely watch this show with your kids.
The Parent ‘Hood
The Parent ‘Hood is the story of Robert and Jerri Peterson and their life in Manhattan with kids ranging from toddler-age to teen. The plots almost always center around the kids; most of them are family-appropriate. If you like shows about the trials, and triumphs, of parenting, this is a good one.
A Different World
Inspired by The Cosby Show, A Different World dealt with Hillman college attendees’ lives, woes, and wonders, featuring a mostly-Black cast. It was part comedy, part drama, dealing with hot topics like the HIV epidemic and classism while still having a buoyant and fun overall feel.
The Wayan Bros
Featuring Marlon and Shawn Wayans, The Wayan Bros was a W.B. hit set in Harlem. Both brothers worked at a newsstand, allowing them to see many of New York City’s most epic characters and making for some hilarious and sometimes poignant television.
Newer kid to the block, Black-ish deals with issues of race and class through the lens of a moderately wealthy Black family. It’s an award-winning mix of cutting-edge comedy and some drama, with a few spin-offs under its belt.
Top Black Sitcoms, Final Thoughts
Next time you’re in the mood to chill out and unwind, pick one of these best Black sitcoms ever to binge with the family. Whether you want retro fare like Diff’Rent Strokes or Sanford and Son, feel-good drama like Family Matters, or biting satire like Atlanta, there’s truly something for every taste.