Girlfriends became collateral damage when the writer’s strike came to an end. The CW announced that it would only concentrate its resources on shows slated to return for another season. We secretly knew Girlfriends had already run out of steam a couple of years ago. But it still could have gone out on a high note at the end of last season with Joan’s long-awaited marriage proposal. Creator Mara Brock Akil and most of the cast chose to soldier on anyway perhaps because of the absence of successful or middle-class black women in series television. I am talking about sisters who play roles beyond the occasional doctor, cop, maid or the ever-popular goldigger.
I wonder if we held onto Girlfriends so tightly towards the end because we still loved the characters or because it was all we had. Sure we can see a plethora of sisters looking for their shot at stardom in just about every reality show on the air. But as we see more and more of them behaving badly (also known as the Flava Effect), we yearn for some better choices.
TV One has tried to help out by getting syndication rights to some things we haven’t seen in a long time but I can’t exactly say that Thelma on Amen screams out successful black woman when all she did for about 75% of the series run was chase after a man who cringed when he saw her. That goes double for Mo Nique’s character on The Parkers. Nick at Nite and TV Land have brought back The Cosby Show, A Different World, Good Times and The Jeffersons but I have got to ask the question: why has anyone thought about Julia?
This groundbreaking series, which debuted 40 years ago actually had a leading character, played by Diahann Carroll who was professional and exuded dignity, grace and class. It is sad to say that modern interpretations of Julia have been few and far between on the small screen.
Back in the day those critical of the show thought that Ms. Carroll wasn’t black enough in part because she wasn’t sassy, loud, angry or helpless without a man. It makes me wonder whether me longing for some sisters of substance would be enough. If it were a late night option, would anyone besides me even watch? Or have we been so numbed by the Flava Effect to find a single, working mother remotely entertaining? I hope I get the chance to find out. While I am waiting, I am putting out this classified ad to the powers-that-be in Hollywood and the black women who have made it up the ladder so far they can run their own shows (Mara, Shondra, Yvette, I am talking to you)—give us more of what we want and need. Let me make it plain, how about images that truly reflect the length and breadth of our experiences. We have enough of the bad, it is time for the good.
Diahann Carroll Talks About Julia