Girlfriends

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For other uses, see Girlfriend (disambiguation).
Girlfriends
Girlfriends-opening03-06.png
Genre Sitcom
Created by Mara Brock Akil
Starring
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 172 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Kevin Marburger
  • Mary Fukuto-Salzman
  • Michele Marburger
Camera setup 22 minutes
Running time Multiple
Production company(s)
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channel UPN
(2000–06)
The CW
(2006–08)
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original run September 11, 2000 (2000-09-11) – February 11, 2008 (2008-02-11)
Chronology
Related shows The Game

Girlfriends is an American comedy-drama sitcom that premiered on September 11, 2000, on UPN and aired on UPN's successor network, The CW, before being cancelled in 2008. The final episode aired on February 11, 2008. When Girlfriends returned in fall 2007 for its eighth season, it became the longest-running live-action sitcom on network television that was on air that year, as well as one of the highest-rated scripted shows on television among African American adults and women 18-34, including its spin-off The Game.[1]

Synopsis[edit]

The series debuted on UPN on September 11, 2000. After airing for several years on the network at 9/8C on Mondays, The CW moved Girlfriends to Sundays at 8/7C. On October 9, 2006, Girlfriends, along with The CW's other African American programs, moved back to Mondays. At this point, Girlfriends returned to its original time slot.[2]

While UPN was still airing new episodes of Girlfriends, the network also began airing reruns five days per week. When the show moved to The CW network after UPN merged with The WB network, MyNetwork TV (which was created to take over UPN's former affiliate stations) picked up the rights to air reruns of Girlfriends, although they eventually discontinued this. WE tv, a network with primarily women's programming, later acquired exclusive rights to air the limited-release episodes on Sundays and exercised an option to not allow broadcast television networks re-broadcast rights to these reruns.

As of January 2014, reruns of Girlfriends air on Centric.

Characters[edit]

Main characters[edit]

  • Joan Carol Clayton, Esq. (played by Tracee Ellis Ross) is considered the unofficial "den mother" of the group, as she frequently looks out for her friends even at the expense of dealing with her own problems, which are plentiful throughout the series run. Joan, originally from Fresno, met Toni when they were children, met Lynn in college. Maya is her assistant at the law firm. She has always had problems with relationships and gave up her law career to pursue her dreams. She and Toni clash several times throughout the series, resulting in ending and reconciling their friendship. Major incidents involved Joan inadvertently revealing Toni's cheating to Greg, and Joan's jealousy of Toni's marriage to Todd, but their friendship officially ends by the end of Season 6 when Joan fails to appear for Toni's custody hearing. For much of Season 7, Joan mourned the loss of her friendship with Toni, eventually opting to resent and belittle her in front of the group. At the end of Season 7, she became engaged to Aaron Waters, whom she met while rehabilitating homes in New Orleans damaged by Hurricane Katrina; she moved into his home while Aaron was deployed to Iraq and rented her house to Lynn.
  • Maya Denise Wilkes (played by Golden Brooks) is a former assistant to Joan and a housewife/author. Maya is from Compton, California and is married to her high school sweetheart, Darnell. They have one child, Jabari. Maya is the sassiest of the group, and is often at odds with Toni over her ego-driven lifestyle. She is a devoted wife and mother, and is frequently depicted with stronger religious convictions than the rest of the group, to the point where she displays stereotypical religious ignorance. Maya is the most "working class" member of the group, especially in earlier seasons of the series. In the first few seasons Maya was more obviously "from the hood", with the associated stereotyped speech and mannerisms. However, as she becomes more successful and interacts more extensively with the legal and publishing industries, she exhibits fewer stereotypes; while still obviously from a different social background as the rest of the group, she is no longer as caricatured. In early seasons, Maya's marriage to Darnell imploded after she had an emotional affair with an acquaintance. Later, after she launches a career as a self-help author, they reunite. In Season 8, the couple endured a miscarriage, and later explored the possibility of adopting a baby girl.
  • Lynn Ann Searcy (played by Persia White) was Joan and Toni's roommate at UCLA and lived with Joan for eight years before the series begins. Lynn holds five post-graduate degrees. Born in Virginia to a black father and a bipolar white mother who comes from a wealthy family, Lynn was adopted by a white family in Seattle (her dad affectionately calls her "Noodle"). She did not embrace her black background until attending college, where she met Joan and Toni. When Joan decides it is time for Lynn to move out of her home, Lynn reluctantly becomes more independent by taking on various, mostly menial jobs; during this time, she displays pyromaniacal tendencies when she doesn't get to act as she wishes. She previously lived with Toni, William, Maya and Sivad (temporarily); and shared a garage with then-boyfriend Vosco before moving into her own apartment (after becoming a property manager at the complex where Maya lived). She produces a documentary on the HIV/AIDS pandemic, focusing on African-American women. While Lynn is depicted as the most sexually adventurous of the group (with frequent mentions of one-night stands, group sex, sex toys, and her infamous "Lynn Spin"), she also dates frequently. She is most attracted to artistic and spiritual men, and over the course of the series has relationships with a Jamaican immigrant, a poet, a pastor, and a musician named Finn (the recording artist Tricky). She was also briefly married to William. Her romantic involvement with Lenny (who shared too many similarities with Lynn, prompting the other girls to label him as her "brother") was the catalyst for her to search for her biological father. After dating Finn, she discovers that music is her passion, and starts a band called Indigo Skye. Lynn is often considered the bohemian of the group (due to her carefree nature and down to earth personality), and is also a vegan. By Season 8, she had signed with a record label called "Dirty Girl" Records.
  • Antoinette "Toni" Marie Childs Garrett (played by Jill Marie Jones, Seasons 1-6) had been Joan's friend since childhood, and they went to college together. Toni grew up in a poor farm family with an alcoholic mother in Fresno, California. Toni is considered the selfish and popular one of her girlfriends and is the self-proclaimed "cute one" of the group. During the first season of the show she despised Maya (whom she considered a lower-class intruder), but ultimately embraced her friendship. Toni is a real estate agent who eventually opens her own brokerage. She rekindles her romance with Greg Sparks (the "love of her life"), but is dumped by Greg when he learns that she has cheated on him with Dr. Clay Spencer. Toni unexpectedly finds love with Todd Garrett, a white, Jewish plastic surgeon, whom she eventually marries after a short courtship. After a rocky year-long marriage, the two separate after Todd moves to New York. Toni and Todd have a baby called Morgan. They fight over custody, but at the end of the 6th season work out their issues. Joan misses the custody hearing leading to the fight that ends Toni and Joan's friendship. Toni moves to New York to be closer to Todd so Morgan can see her dad, but has maintained her friendships with Maya and Lynn. (Though Joan tried to make amends to Toni in Season 7, Toni refuses any further contact with Joan.) Although she is mentioned frequently in the early episodes of Season 7 and then mocked by Joan in Season 8, Toni does not appear in Seasons 7 or 8 (due to Jones' departure).
  • William Jerrowme Dent, Esq. (played by Reggie Hayes) is the girls' closest male friend. He is senior partner at Goldberg, Swedelson, McDonald and Lee. Hailing from Kansas City, he is portrayed as somewhat of a "mama's boy", but possesses self-confidence and a dry sense of humor. (One episode focused on his distant and complicated relationship with his father, who is a perfectionist.) After being left at the wedding altar by the woman he loved, Yvonne Blackwell, he reluctantly gets back into the groove of dating, including Donna, Kara, senior partner Sharon Upton Farley, and the at-times vicious Monica Charles Brooks (whom he ultimately marries). Fearing that Joan would beat him to the altar, he eloped with Lynn on a whim; he realized that he wanted to find true love and they ultimately divorce. He later realizes that Joan is the right woman for him, but after three months of courting, the two end their relationship. He became a sperm donor for his sister Linda and her same-sex partner, and regards the baby as his "nephew-son." He is also co-owner of the J-Spot restaurant with Joan. In later seasons, William forges a tight bond with Darnell. During Season 7, he was working on his marriage with Monica. According to his mother, his middle name is spelled with two "R"s, and a silent "W".[3] B
  • Monica Charles Brooks-Dent (played by Keesha Sharp) is William's wife. All four of the girlfriends (especially Lynn and Toni) hated her (Joan comes to see her vulnerable side and becomes her friend, and Toni moves to New York at the end of the sixth season). In the seventh season, they slowly and later fully accept Monica as their friend as Monica does the same. Although engaged to William, the two date twice before; they meet at a bar the first time. Since the last time William proposes to her in Monaco, he has occasionally had doubts about ever doing so. Eventually he marries her, but on their wedding day he has too much to drink and confesses that he has had and still has doubts about marrying her. Monica leaves William in Season 7 but returns shortly after the girlfriends go to Chicago to persuade her to get back together with William. On their visit, they discover that Monica, due to her father's dementia and her mother's power of attorney, has been cut off from her family fortune, so Joan offers Monica a job at the J-Spot. William is thrilled about Monica's return until she demands half of what he earned while they were married. They manage to slowly rebuild their relationship but constantly clash at the J-Spot. In the Season 7 finale, they get back together. By Season 8, Monica was pregnant and is seen spending more time with the other three girlfriends, particularly Joan.
  • Darnell Leroy Wilkes (played by Flex Alexander Season 1, Khalil Kain seasons 2-8) is Maya's husband. He and Maya married at a young age and had Jabari. Darnell was an airport baggage handler, before becoming a mechanic at a local car repair shop. For a while, he was a NASCAR pit crew mechanic. After Maya's affair with Stan Wright the two divorce. In earlier seasons, he felt threatened by Maya's relationship with Joan, Toni and Lynn; he ultimately put his issues aside and became friends with them. After his divorce, he dated a woman named Lena (Chenoa Maxwell) whom Maya disliked because she still had feelings for Darnell. At Lena and Darnell's wedding Maya professed her love for Darnell. The two reconcile and begin living together again in Season 6. In the end of Season 7 Darnell accepts an offer to buy back his garage and get Maya and Jabari a new house in L.A. After suffering a miscarriage, the couple considers adopting a baby girl.

Minor characters[edit]

  • Jabari Darnell Wilkes: (played by: Seasons 1-6 Tanner Scott Richards, season 7-8 Kendré Berry) is Maya and Darnell's son. He was born when Maya was only sixteen years old. A running gag in the series is Toni's habit of mispronouncing his name by calling him names such as Jumanji, Gymboree, Jujube, Jacuzzi, Jalebi, June bug, Djibuti, Jaboobooboo, Jamal, Jafifi, Jamiroquai, Jimmy Crack Corn, Jungle Jim, Juwanna Mann, Jeep Cherokee, Jolly Rancher, Jakarta, Jingle-jangle, Jehoshaphat, Jambalaya, Japetso, Jaboomboom, Jappuccino, and Jam On It. Toni has said his name correctly only twice. He was depicted to be a sweet innocent child but once he entered his teen years he seemed to be a little more dimwitted and rebellious.[citation needed]
  • Jeanette Woods: (played by Charmin Lee) is Maya's no-nonsense mother who won't hesitate to put a switch to her adult daughter. She babysat Jabari while he was younger, and also rented out her garage for Lynn and her then- boyfriend Vosco to live after Joan kicked her out of her house. She initially took an instant dislike to Joan's "sadiddy" behavior towards Maya's style (also labeling Joan as "classist" and "egregious" as Maya does), but eventually grew to accept her. She and Maya also butt heads when she decides to sell her home to move in with her boyfriend Earl (whom Maya doesn't like). Jeanette was seen throughout Seasons 1 - 7.
  • Ronnie: (played by Lamont Johnson) is Maya's cousin and hair stylist. In the series he helped sell her semi-biographical book. He owns two beauty salons called Situations and Situations Deux. He is last seen at the ending of season 7 as Aaron proposed to Joan.
  • Peaches: (played by Shawn Harrison) plays Ronnie's boyfriend. He is a hair stylist at Situations and had a short stint as Joan's assistant and temporary confidante after Maya goes to work as William's secretary after William becomes Senior Partner. Peaches is last seen at the ending of season 7 as Aaron proposes to Joan.
  • Davis Hamilton: (played by Randy J. Goodwin) owner and operator of the girls' favorite restaurant/hangout spot, 847 (Season 1). He and Joan flirted with each other, and almost went away for a romantic weekend while both were involved with other people. However, during Season 4, in the aftermath of Joan's breakup with Brock, she runs into Davis at a movie theater. She learns that Davis had lost the restaurant and also ended his relationship with his fiancee'. They talk about how they missed the opportunity to start a relationship, and ultimately decide to just remain friends.
  • Charles Swedelson (played by Phil Reeves) - managing partner at Goldberg, Swedelson, McDonald and Lee who is also Joan's and William's supervisor. Though highly professional, he is known to have a roving eye for the ladies, and tends to use "hip-hop" euphemisms towards Joan and William to appear more laid back and sociable. Mr. Swedelson was seen throughout the entire series run.

Guest appearances[edit]

Departure of Jill Marie Jones[edit]

Jill Marie Jones left the show at the end of Season 6. Akil stated, "I would love for her (Jones) to come back, but Jill doesn't want to return. I don't know 100% why she made this decision. She didn't tell me. All she said when we talked was that she felt it was time for her to move on. The door is not closed. We've asked her to come back and have offered different ways for her to return. But I completely wish her well. There's no drama involved." The show will now deal with Toni's loss through Joan's struggles.

In a December 2007 interview with Wilson Morales, he asked Jill if she thought the character Toni had run her course. JMJ responded:

No, I think if Toni came back and when I say no, I say it because there are brilliant writers on ‘Girlfriends’. There is so much more that you can do. For me and my career, my contract was up after six seasons and there's a whole film world that I wanted to experience and that's what I’ve been doing. I think if Toni came back to the show, there would be so much more to write and much more to bring. That's a testament to how great Mara and the rest of the writers are.[4] I wish them all well and I still watch the show.[5]

Richard T. Jones was featured in an early episode, which set up the premise that Aaron, a National Guard member, was called to Iraq. When AOL Black Voices columnist Jawn Murray asked Akil if "Ross' character Joan will be dumped again?" Akil responded: "Who's to say I'm getting rid of [the] Richard T. Jones [character]? Don't underestimate me!"[6]

Episodes[edit]

Special episodes[edit]

No. Airdate Title Overview
0 Unaired Pilot Joan Clayton is at the great peak of her life. She is almost 30, is almost junior partner at her law firm, and has a great friend circle. She hires a sassy urban woman named Maya Wilkes as her assistant, and has had a friendship with one of her colleagues, William, for over three months. But Joan is going crazy that she hasn't had a man for a year and her plan was to be married by now. Her friends, egotistical Toni Childs and lazy 27-year-old college student Lynn have to cheer her up and get her a man with the help of Maya, whom Toni calls "ghetto."
57 January 7, 2003 Howdy Partner* Joan and William vie for a senior partner position, and are shocked when the firm instead brings in an outsider, Sharon Upton Farley (Anne-Marie Johnson). They plan to demonstrate their outrage by walking out, but only one of them follows through with it. Meanwhile, Lynn and Maya help Toni deal with her fears after Todd asks her to take an HIV test.
133 April 17, 2006 The Game Joan's cousin, an aspiring med student, wants to give up her future for a pro athlete. (The backdoor pilot episode for a "Girlfriends" spinoff of the same name).

* This episode aired on a Tuesday night in an attempt to boost ratings for the new sitcom Abby, which was making its first airing on its regular night.

Other details[edit]

Spin-off[edit]

A 2006 episode of Girlfriends entitled The Game featured guest star Tia Mowry as Joan's cousin Melanie Barnett, an aspiring medical student, who wants to give up her future to follow her professional athlete boyfriend to San Diego. That episode was the launching pad for The Game, a spin-off series which got canceled by The CW television network. In April 2010, BET announced that it would pick up the series, which is still airing new episodes to this day.

U.S. television ratings[edit]

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Girlfriends on UPN and The CW.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.

Season Network Season premiere Season finale TV season Ranking Viewers (in millions)
1st UPN September 11, 2000 May 14, 2001 2000–2001 #136 4.0[7]
2nd September 10, 2001 May 20, 2002 2001–2002 #129 4.2[8]
3rd September 23, 2002 May 19, 2003 2002–2003 #133 4.0[9]
4th September 15, 2003 May 24, 2004 2003–2004 #128 3.6[10]
5th September 20, 2004 May 23, 2005 2004–2005 #129 3.4[11]
6th September 19, 2005 May 8, 2006 2005–2006 #135 3.4[12]
7th CW October 1, 2006 May 7, 2007 2006–2007 #138 2.5[13]
8th October 1, 2007 February 11, 2008 2007–2008 #150 2.1[14]

Cancellation[edit]

The final two episodes recorded before the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike aired back-to-back on Monday, February 11 at 9/8c. However, this was not a 2-part episode. The timeslot was planned to be moved to Sundays due to the writer's strike and the returning of The CW's reality series.[15] On February 13, 2008, it was announced by a The CW representative that a proper series finale would not be done because it would be too expensive, also confirming the show's cancellation.[16] A retrospective episode was to be aired on The CW Network to conclude the eight-year series. However, the characters' storylines would receive no resolutions as the retrospective/series finale did not come to pass. The network offered the actors only half of their usual episodic salary to take part, and the actors collectively turned them down.[17]

Awards[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient
2005 Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Mara Brock Akil, Mark Alton Brown, Veronica Chambers, Tim Edwards, Karin Gist, Dee LaDuke, Regina Y. Hicks, Kevin Marburger, Michele Marburger, Prentice Penny, and Shauna Robinson
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Tracee Ellis Ross
2005 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Reginald C. Hayes
2006
2007 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Reginald C. Hayes
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Tracee Ellis Ross
2009 Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Tracee Ellis Ross

DVD releases[edit]

Season Releases
DVD Name Release Date No. Additional Features
The First Season February 27, 2007
22
  • N/A
The Second Season October 9, 2007
22
  • We All Fall Down: A Closer Look at "Trick Or Truth?"
  • Creating the Show
  • Getting the Girls Together
  • Episode Guide
The Third Season February 12, 2008
25
  • It's What You Wear That Counts
  • Here Comes the Bride: An Invitation Inside "The Wedding"
The Fourth Season July 29, 2008
24
  • N/A
The Fifth Season October 28, 2008
22
  • N/A
The Sixth Season February 24, 2009
22
  • Includes the Backdoor pilot of The Game
The Seventh Season October 13, 2009
22
Mara Brock Akil Comments on:
  • I Want My Baby Back
  • Hot For Preacher
  • Time To Man Up
  • Willie Or Won't He III: This Time It's Personal
  • What Had Happened Was...
The Eighth and Final Season January 19, 2010
13
  • Bonus Episode from The Game: "Away Game"

U.S. broadcast history[edit]

  • UPN - Mondays @ 9:30 p.m./8:30C (2000–2001)
  • UPN / The CW - Mondays - 9:00 p.m./8:00C (2002–2008)
  • The CW - Sundays (2 Weeks) - 8:00 p.m./7:00C (2006)
    • The CW - Sundays (February 10) - 9:00 p.m./8:00C (2008)
      • The CW - Sundays - 9:30 p.m./8:30C (2008)

Worldwide broadcast information/Syndication[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

Girlfriends: The Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released May 26, 2008
Genre Soundtrack
Length 48:09
Label Koch Records
Producer Larry Robinson

Track listing[edit]

  1. Erykah Badu - "Vibrate On" (4:14)
  2. Jill Scott - "Golden" (3:52)
  3. Angie Stone - "Wish I Didn't Miss You" (4:32)
  4. Corinne Bailey Rae - "Put Your Records On" (3:35)
  5. Algebra - "I Know" (3:57)
  6. Amy Winehouse - "Stronger Than Me" (3:42)
  7. Estelle - "All Comes Back to You" (3:22)
  8. Chrisette Michele - "Girl Respect Yourself" (3:44)
  9. Chaka Khan - "Disrepectful" [Feat. Mary J. Blige] (4:46)
  10. India.Arie - "I Am Not My Hair" (3:48)
  11. Dre - "Soulmate" (4:22)
  12. Persia White - "Choices" (2:47)
  13. Lira - "Feel Good" (5:15)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Littlejohn, Janice Rhoshalle (December 18, 2007). "Series creator has game plan if 'Girlfriends' is canceled". newsok.com. Retrieved March 28, 2009. 
  2. ^ Braxton, Greg (September 30, 2006). "'Girlfriends' feels left out of the clique". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 27, 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ Stated in the episode Willie or Won't He II: The Last Chapter?
  4. ^ Morales, Wilson (December 18, 2007). "The Perfect Holiday: An Interview with Jill Marie Jones". Black Film. Retrieved March 27, 2009. 
  5. ^ Byrd, Kenya N. (January 22, 2008). "Jill Marie Jones: Our Favorite Girlfriend". Retrieved March 27, 2009. 
  6. ^ Murray, Jawn (August 20, 2007). "TV Talk". AOL Black Voices. Retrieved March 27, 2009. 
  7. ^ "TV Ratings 2000-2001". Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  8. ^ "How did your favorite show rate?". USA Today. May 28, 2002. 
  9. ^ "Nielsen's TOP 156 Shows for 2002-03". rec.arts.tv. May 20, 2003. 
  10. ^ "I.T.R.S. Ranking Report". ABC Television Network. June 2, 2004. 
  11. ^ "2004-05 primetime series wrap". The Hollywood Reporter. May 27, 2005. [dead link]
  12. ^ "2005-06 primetime series wrap". The Hollywood Reporter. May 26, 2006. [dead link]
  13. ^ "2006-07 primetime wrap". The Hollywood Reporter. May 25, 2007. [dead link]
  14. ^ "2007-2008 TV season". ABC Medianet. February 10, 2008. 
  15. ^ "The CW Network Announces Midseason Schedule". CW Blog. January 7, 2008. Retrieved March 27, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Girlfriends: Cancelled, Proper Series Finale Too Expensive". TV Series Finale. February 14, 2008. Retrieved March 29, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Girlfriends: Will the CW Series Finale Retrospective Happen?". TV Series Finale. April 30, 2008. Retrieved March 27, 2009. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]