Living Single Was Revolutionary Black Television

The sitcom about friends living in pre-gentrified Brooklyn tackled work, culture, and Black love


This is TV Time Capsule, our chance to revisit moments that defined a genre, era, or generation. In each episode, we’ll take a critical look at a show, theme, or entertainer to relive the absurdity of pre-streaming programming.

On this episode of TV Time Capsule, we’re talking all about Living Single. Khadijah, Synclaire, Maxine, Regine, Overton, and Kyle: those are the names of our Living Single characters whose professional and personal lives audiences followed while they lived in a Brooklyn brownstone during the ’90s. Created by Yvette Lee Bowser, who already had experience writing and producing for A Different World and Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, the show is often compared to the hit show Friends, also about friends living in New York. However, Living Single had significantly less notoriety and the cast made nowhere near the same amount of money per episode.

Through Living Single, viewers were able to see positive examples that were outside the stereotypical light. The show had Black women with natural hairstyles, Black people in different socioeconomic points in their lives, and most importantly, it showed healthy relationships and the layers of what that could look like. The show even touched on topics such as dating outside your tax bracket. Ultimately, Living Single made a long-lasting mark on the entertainment industry. The fact that the show has been able to bring back so much happy nostalgia in the streaming age of today only proves how good it was when it first aired in the ‘90s. And, too, the success of Living Single helped pave the way for other Black shows such as Blackish, Dear White People, and most recently Run the World.

In the video above, we revisit the show that exuded Black excellence, lasting friendships, and timeless feel-good comedy.

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