Television shows are one of the world’s biggest forms of entertainment, offering a countless variety of series that can range from narrating the lives of best friends who live and love in a metropolitan city or the legacy of a demon hunter destined to fight vampires and other evil things many of us grew up fearing lived under our beds.
On a lighter note though, there’s also the trusted and true genre of family-geared content, and a special subgenre within that sector that focuses primarily on diverse representations within Black households. Be it a sitcom or a drama, we as a nation have proven over the years that watching the Black family dynamic dramatized for our viewing pleasure will simply never get old.
With current shows that display a diverse makeup of Black families, including The Chi, Flatbush Misdemeanors and Abbott Elementary for example — reboots by way of Bel-Air and The Wonder Years are pretty solid as well — we felt inspired to revisit some of our favorite fictional Black neighbors throughout television history.
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The Black family is special in the sense that it doesn’t always typically look like the white picket fence fairytale many of us have been taught to aspire towards. Some may have just the mom in the picture, while others show the father stepping up in the offscreen absence of a maternal figure. A few tackle the ever-growing trend of blended families, and yes, there are strong examples of two-family households that live an upper-middle class lifestyle. We’re just diverse that way!
The 20 Black TV families you’ll find on this list represent all of that plus more, and have viewers everywhere either wishing to be extended cousins or imitating that familial love in their own real lives.
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From a dynamic father-son duo and a pair of twin sisters split at birth, to a near-perfect TV dad that proved to be a million times greater than the actor who portrayed him, let these fictional Black bloodlines remind you of why you fell in love with them in the first place.
Keep scrolling for 20 of our favorite fictional Black families on television, and let us know if we skipped over your favorite make-believe mom, fictional father or just fabricated fam overall:
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1. The Winslows, ‘Family Matters’
Urkle might’ve not shared the Winslow last name, but he was without a doubt everyone’s favorite extended family member!
2. The Huxtables, ‘The Cosby Show’
We’ll save our opinion on the real-life Cosby for another day, but Mr. Huxtable was the father many of us wish we had growing up.
3. The Johnsons, ‘black-ish’
With every episode, many got to see a honest take on the Black experience from various age ranges and even skin tones. We’re forever grateful.
4. The Evans Family, ‘Good Times’
As the first African American two-parent family on a TV sitcom, we had to pay homage to the originators.
5. The Banks Family, ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’
Living with an adopted cousin is more common than you’d expect, but having one as cool as Will comes by once in a lifetime.
6. The Landry-Campbells – ‘Sister, Sister’
Literally had fans everywhere hoping to meet their long-lost twin at a local galleria.
7. The Parkers – ‘The Parkers’
Wildly underrated, we’ve yet to see a more fierce mother/daughter duo with symbiotic comedic timing.
8. The Paynes, ‘Tyler Perry’s House of Payne’
The Paynes came to TV at a time when most thought Black sitcoms were dying out, and as a result breathed new life into the genre.
9. The James Family, ‘All Of Us’
Co-parenting with an ex can be one of the most important relationships within a blended family, and this show did a great job at showing it from all sides.
10. The Rocks, ‘Everybody Hates Chris’
From a cheap AF dad to an overbearing mom, and two annoying younger siblings to boot, this one was maybe a little too relatable for a lot of us.
11. The Petersons, ‘The Parent ‘Hood’
While not always mentioned amongst the elite Black TV families, this was for some their first example of African Americans living in an urban-yet-middle-class household.
12. The Jenkins Family, ‘227’
Proof that while blood surely creates the initial bond, even neighbors in a well-to-do building complex can become like family as well.
13. The Kyles, ‘My Wife And Kids’
Rarely do you come across a household where everybody is a comedian in their own right, but The Kyles sure proved for five seasons straight that many do in fact exist out there.
14. The McCullough-Thomkins Family, ‘The Bernie Mac Show’
Dysfunctional-yet-loving, the late great Bernie Mac blessed us with comedic gold by bringing one of his best standup skits to the small screen.
15. The Hendersons, ‘Smart Guy’
We’re glad this show expressed the notion that even the next Einstein needs love and support from his family to become his greatest self.
16. The Mitchells, ‘Moesha’
The strained relationship between a stepdaughter and stepmom was portrayed perfectly between Brandy and Sheryl Lee Ralph, respectively, showing the real-life stages of resentment to understanding and finally loving acceptance.
17. The Drummond-Jackson Family, ‘Diff’rent Strokes’
The true-to-life, no-holds-barred themes explored on Diff’rent Strokes will forever make it the GOATed Black family series.
18. The Williams Family, ‘The Wayans Bros.’
“Happy, singing and colored” — the way we’ll always remember this hilarious brother duo and their beloved “Pops.” We’ll miss you forever, John Witherspoon!
19. The Sanfords, ‘Sanford and Son’
Can you name a more dynamic father/son duo? We’ll wait…
20. The Jeffersons, ‘The Jeffersons’
Although it took some time getting an actor to commit to the role of Lionel Jefferson, overall George and Weezie made a good argument for two being enough.