When Russell Westbrook went down with a season-ending knee injury three weeks ago, it led to two things:
A: The abrupt end of the Westbrook Or Flatmate game, which had started to become a hit with among certain circles — ok, fine, the hipster circle — in Hong Kong. Serious, just hours before Westbrook’s news broke, I was out with the flatmate around PoHo and Yardbird (the Hong Kong restaurant drawing the most global buzz among the hipster/foodie crowds) when not one, but two dudes, spotted my flatmate and yelled “Yo Westbrook!”
B: The opening up of the western conference. Oklahoma City Thunder had been the favorites to win the west heading into the playoffs, but Westbrook’s sudden injury opened the door for the Clippers, the Grizzlies, and Spurs to win the west.
Well, it’s looking like the Memphis Grizzlies will be that team. They’re heading to their first ever western conference finals after kicking the Clippers’ ass — so bad that I now see Chris Paul fleeing the team this summer — and ousting the Westbrook-less OKC squad in five games.
Yes, the Grizz have one more team to play before heading to the Finals, likely the Spurs, but at this point, the Grizz has to be considered the favorite.
And you know what this means?
“EDDIE WINSLOW”, the fictional son on the 90s sitcom Family Matters, will trend on Twitter.
The reason Eddie Winslow will trend — actually, it’s already been trending the last week — is because this is Memphis’ best offensive player:
His name is Zach Randolph. A low post beast with the best set of post moves in the world.
And this is Eddie Winslow.
LETS TAKE ONE MORE LOOK:
Uncanny, right? This isn’t new. Eddie Winslow took over Twitter trends throughout the 2011 NBA playoffs, when the Randolph-led Grizzlies shocked the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, followed by an epic 7 game series with OKC.
So yes, America, be prepared for #EDDIEWINSLOW, the hashtag. It’ll bring back memories of Family Matters, the sitcom that was mostly known for two things: serving as the anchor around which ABC’s TGIF lineup revolved, and Steve Urkel.
What’s often overlooked is Family Matter’s role in being one of the prominent black sitcoms that helped led the genre to its apex in America in the 90s. It is, at 215 episodes over 9 seasons, the second-longest running black sitcom in television history, trailing only The Jeffersons (253).
It’s understandable why Family Matters is often overlooked though, because at the end of the day, it was a solid, if unspectacular sitcom without one transcendent trait. It didn’t spawn a superstar like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, nor was it laugh-out-loud hilarious like Martin. Heck, it didn’t even have the campy nature of Wayans Brothers.
You already know where this is going. I’m going to list my favorite black sitcoms of the 90s. In honor of the advanced metrics movement taking over sports, let’s get scientific here and rate each sitcom in different areas — areas that are key traits to the black sitcom’s identity:
A: THEME SONG/INTRO
B: MEMORABLE, QUOTABLE, CHARACTER(S) WITH SWAG
C: CLOWNING OR VILIFYING OF A WHITE CHARACTER OR CHARACTERS
D: INTRODUCE BLACK CULTURE (COULD BE SLANG, HIP HOP, WHATEVER) TO MAINSTREAM AMERICA
There’s really no need for me to list The Fresh Prince, since that is almost universally accepted as the overall best black sitcom of the 90s, the show that spawned arguably the world’s biggest movie draw, the show that had the best blend of laugh-out-loud moments with legit emotions and serious “very special” episodes (like the one where Carlton buys a gun, or the one where Carlton accidentally overdoses, or the one where Will’s dad leaves him a second time), and the show with a theme song that every dude in America between the ages of 25 to 50 could recite.
So let’s cover the rest.
By far, the funniest and “blackest” of all black sitcoms. This vehicle for standup comedian Martin Lawrence played to Lawrence’s strength by having him portray not only motormouth alpha male radio host Martin Payne, but also various outrageous characters, including Sheneneh, Dragonfly Jones, and Otis.
Fresh Prince is my overall favorite sitcom, but Martin is the one I’d choose if I was bored at home and needing a random show to turn off my brain and laugh off. I have a feeling I’m not alone.
THEME SONG/INTRO: 8/10
Martin got it right from the get go, kicking off each show, after a cold open, with a pulsating drum beat followed by a 90s beat.
The show changed it up for season 3, going with a similar song, though its opening lack the “ooofm” of the original.
Martin would get a 10 for theme song if not for the fact that somehow, from season 5 on, they went with this travesty of an opening, ditching the hip hop inspired backdrop for a stupid 3D Martin crawling out of a television. Seriously, what the fuck.
MEMORABLE, QUOTABLE, CHARACTER(S) WITH SWAG : 10/10
Though the supporting cast, from Gina to Cole to Pam, are mostly solid if unspectacular, Martin’s side characters — all the aforementioned — are awesome. I mean, they have names like WHITE BOB FROM MARKETING, ANGRY MAN, and BROTHER FOR REAL. Bruh Man is a personal favorite.
You’ll have to youtube White Bob From Marketing and Bruh Man yourself, because I fear that if I post the video here, you’ll spend the next 5 hours watching their clips and not finish this post, skip meals (which is unhealthy), or get fired from your job.
But let me talk about Bruh Man a little bit. He’s a very minor peripheral character with one schtick, but it’s the funniest shit ever: he just randomly shows up at events or Martin’s apartment without invite or reason. When asked what he’s doing, he always responds with “Nuttin’…just chillin'”. He then mentions he lives on the fifth floor, but he pronounces it “fifth flo'” while throwing up four fingers.
ALRIGHT MAN I CAN’T STOP MYSELF, HERE’S A VIDEO OF BRUH MAN:
CLOWNING OR VILIFYING OF A WHITE CHARACTER OR CHARACTERS: 9/10
White Bob From Marketing, enough said.
INTRODUCE BLACK CULTURE (COULD BE SLANG, HIP HOP, WHATEVER) TO MAINSTREAM AMERICA: 10/10
Let’s see, Martin works at a radio station named WZUP (WASSSSSUP) and hosts a TV show named Word on the Street, Pam is the stereotypical oh-no-you-didn’t sassy sista (with Sheneneh taking that up seven notches) and Bruh Man had Asian and white kids everywhere saying “Nuttin’…just chillin’… on the fourth flo’.” There’s also Hustle Man, played by Tracy Morgan, who is always hawking questionable products, and Martin’s love of sneakers
And the guest stars: Richard Pryor, Snoop, and Biggie, among others. Damn.
2: LIVING SINGLE
Quick, name this show: Six single 20somethings in New York City living in two closely-located apartments…
Friends? Well yeah, but Living Single came first. That the two show had the exact same premise but stand on opposite ends of the pop culture hit spectrum speaks to… well, something. Not necessarily race, too, according to Queen Latifah.
THEME SONG/INTRO: 10/10
Possibly the second greatest black sitcom theme/intro behind Fresh Prince and one of the best overall. This Queen Latifah track contained all the elements of everything that made late 80s and early 90s hip hop great: jazz trumpet intro over beatbox, then breakbeats while the Queen dropped catchy rhymes about surviving in the city.
MEMORABLE, QUOTABLE, CHARACTER(S) WITH SWAG : 7/10
Unlike, say, Martin, which went for slapstick in-yo-face, Living Single gave us characters with dimensions and depth, and so, naturally at first glance, they seem less charismatic. But all these cats, from Overton and his overalls to Khadijah to Synclaire, grew on me. What they lack in immediate attitude, they make up with subtle charm. Extra points to LS for having strong, career-driven women as the leads.
CLOWNING OR VILIFYING OF A WHITE CHARACTER OR CHARACTERS: n/a
This show took the high road.
BRING BLACK CULTURE (COULD BE SLANG, HIP HOP, WHATEVER) TO MAINSTREAM AMERICA: 9/10
That opening intro alone would get an 8 out of 10 as far as putting out a catchy rap song in prime time television. The extra point: the crew lived inside a Brooklyn brownstone; Khadijah’s magazine focused on urban cultures; Kyle’s love of jazz, etc.
3: WAYANS BROTHERS
This was the best show on the WB network, which isn’t saying much. Man, that network was trash.
THEME SONG/INTRO: 9/10
Just the fact they used Tribe Called Quest’s Electric Relaxation is enough to get a 10. But that they preceded the song with a mock-corny 70s opening???? Though the last gag in the intro, with saw an old lady get hit by a bus, is stupid.
We’re brothers, we’re happy and we’re singing and we’re colored, give me a high five!
MEMORABLE, QUOTABLE, CHARACTER(S) WITH SWAG: 3/10
Pop can be funny at times, but is overall annoying. Dee sucked. Even the Wayans themselves lacked any signature traits.
CLOWNING OR VILIFYING OF A WHITE CHARACTER OR CHARACTERS: 5/10
White Mike is the typical stock character that Hollywood uses for cheap laughs: a white guy who acts over-the-top black, including ridiculous gear, mannerisms, and speech. It’s a lot funnier when the pretentiousness is more subtle. White Mike is a fail as a character, though it is a strong clown of white folks.
INTRODUCE BLACK CULTURE (COULD BE SLANG, HIP HOP, WHATEVER) TO MAINSTREAM AMERICA: 5/10
Well, the brothers lived in Harlem, and there’s plenty of New York inner city references throughout the show, but other than that, the show was not seminal in any way.
4: HANGIN’ WITH MR COOPER
This show wasn’t particularly popular, but I liked it because the main character, Mark Cooper, was an NBA player turned substitute teacher. The premise alone was a spot on this list.
THEME SONG/INTRO: 6/10
It’s not that the show had a particularly bad theme song/opening — in fact, the one they used after season 3, the one featuring backdrops of Oakland, was catchy — it’s just there was no continuity whatsoever. First three seasons, three completely different theme songs/opening. Season 2’s Soul Man opening was solid. Season 3 on went with the aforementioned Oakland backdrop one. This is the one that plays in my head anytime I come across a dude named Cooper.
MEMORABLE, QUOTABLE, CHARACTER(S) WITH SWAG : 3/10
At the risk of sounding very offensive, but man, this show had vanilla characters. Loses extra points for losing a key cast member after THE FIRST SEASON — initially, it was Cooper’s childhood friend with whom Mark and Vanessa shared the house.
CLOWNING OR VILIFYING OF A WHITE CHARACTER OR CHARACTERS: 0/10
I can’t even think of one. This show was more family-oriented though.
INTRODUCE BLACK CULTURE (COULD BE SLANG, HIP HOP, WHATEVER) TO MAINSTREAM AMERICA: 0/10
It was created by the dude who made Full House.