Living Single

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Living Single
Living single dvd cover.jpg
First season DVD cover
Created byYvette Lee Bowser
StarringQueen Latifah
Kim Coles
Erika Alexander
T.C. Carson
John Henton
Kim Fields
Mel Jackson
Opening theme"We Are Living Single", written and performed by Queen Latifah
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes118 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Yvette Lee Bowser (entire run)
Roger S.H. Schulman
Production location(s)Warner Bros. Studios,
Burbank, California
Camera setupVideotape; Multi-camera
Running time22 minutes
Production company(s)SisterLee Productions
(1994-1998)
(seasons 2-5)
Warner Bros. Television
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original networkFox
Picture format480i (SDTV)
Original releaseAugust 22, 1993 (1993-08-22) –
January 1, 1998 (1998-01-01)

Living Single is an American sitcom television series that aired for five seasons on the Fox network from August 22, 1993 to January 1, 1998. The show centered on the lives of six black friends who share personal and professional experiences while living in a Brooklyn brownstone.

Development[edit]

Queen Latifah and Kim Coles both had development deals with Fox.[1] In March 1993, Fox announced that Queen Latifah and Coles would star in a comedy sitcom called My Girls, about roommates in New York City.[2] The character of Khadijah was created for Queen Latifah. The character is an entrepreneur who started a magazine, and Latifah is an entrepreneur who started her own record label.[3] Fox changed the show's name to Living Single three weeks before it first aired.[4]

Reception[edit]

During Living Single's first season, it consistently had higher ratings than Martin, which aired immediately before it, and it quickly became the fourth highest-rated show aired on Fox.[5]

Throughout its run, Living Single became one of the most popular African-American sitcoms of its era, ranking among the top five in African-American ratings in all five seasons.[6][7][8][9] Newspaper critics contrasted Living Single with Friends, which aired during the same time slot for a while.[1][6][7][8][9] Living Single had successful Black characters including an attorney, a stockbroker, and a business owner, in contrast to Friends, which featured white characters including a waitress, a folk singer, and an unemployed actor, and no lead characters who were people of color.[6] Show creator Yvette Lee Bowser was disappointed that Warner Bros. did not promote Living Single nearly as much as it did its other show, Friends.[10]

Episodes[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankViewers
(millions)
First airedLast aired
127August 22, 1993 (1993-08-22)May 15, 1994 (1994-05-15)#569.3
227September 1, 1994 (1994-09-01)May 18, 1995 (1995-05-18)#84[citation needed]8.7
327August 31, 1995 (1995-08-31)May 9, 1996 (1996-05-09)#111[citation needed]6.5
424August 29, 1996 (1996-08-29)May 8, 1997 (1997-05-08)#104[citation needed]6.2
513September 11, 1997 (1997-09-11)January 1, 1998 (1998-01-01)#117[11]7.0

Living Single centered on six people consisting of four women and two men living the single life in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.[12]

The series focused on two different households in one brownstone, one shared by a trio of independent women and another shared by a pair of male friends who have known each other since they spent their youth in Cleveland, Ohio. In the first apartment, Khadijah James (Queen Latifah), a hard-working editor and publisher of the fictional urban independent monthly Flavor, lived with her sweet, but naive cousin, Synclaire James (Kim Coles), an aspiring actress who worked as Khadijah's receptionist and has an affinity for Troll dolls; and her childhood friend from East Orange, New Jersey, Regina "Régine" Hunter (Kim Fields), an image-conscious, boutique buyer who was in a constant search for a well-to-do man to spend her life with (and spend his money). Later in the series, Régine became a costume assistant for the soap opera Palo Alto. When the show was canceled, she became a wedding planner and left the apartment to move in with her fiancé, Dexter Knight (Don Franklin). Maxine "Max" Shaw (Erika Alexander), a sharp-tongued attorney and Khadijah's best friend from their college days at Howard University, frequently stopped by to share her unique insights, keep them entertained by sharing her day, to make sure that the girls' refrigerator isn't overstocked, and to start trouble with Kyle, looking for any chance to make his life worse.

Kyle Barker (T.C. Carson) lived in the second apartment with Overton Wakefield Jones (John Henton). Kyle was a stockbroker whose constant verbal sparring with Max did little to mask their obvious sexual attraction. Overton was the friendly, but country, maintenance man for the owner of their (and neighboring) building who held deep affection for Synclaire and plenty of hilarious homespun wisdom for everyone else. Kyle and Max ended up pursuing a sexual relationship, but when he decided to take a job in London and invited Max to join him, she turned him down. Maxine subsequently became distraught over her decision and, after defending a man who claims to be the second coming of Jesus (Harold Perrineau), she began to seriously look for the purpose of her life. Through a series of events, Max decided that her purpose must be to become a mother and during the insemination process unknowingly picked Kyle's sperm specimen based on a list of qualities she would like for her child to have. Kyle returned in the series finale and the two reconciled. Overton and Synclaire also got together and their relationship culminated in marriage by the end of the fourth season. In season five, they moved in together, leaving Overton and Kyle's apartment open for new character Roni DeSantos (Idalis DeLeon), a New York-area D.J., to move in. It was eventually revealed that DeSantos had a fling with Ira Lee "Tripp" Williams III, (Mel Jackson), the new roommate of Khadijah and Régine who moved in when Synclaire's room became available. Tripp was a songwriter. Synclaire joined a comedy improv troupe where she gained the attention of Tony Jonas, a Warner Bros. television exec who cast her as a nun for a new comedy series he was developing.

Along with trying to make Flavor a success, Khadijah also spent time looking for Mr. Right. She eventually found him in childhood friend Scooter (Cress Williams) with whom she left the brownstone for the final time in the series finale.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main characters[edit]

  • Queen Latifah – Khadijah James, editor and publisher of Flavor Magazine, an independent magazine devoted to the interests of the urban community.
  • Kim Coles – Synclaire James-Jones, Khadijah's good-natured cousin and roommate; receptionist at Flavor and aspiring actress.
  • Erika Alexander – Maxine "Max" Felice Shaw, strong-willed attorney, Khadijah's best friend and former college roommate, who grew up in Mount Airy, Philadelphia; spends much of her time at the women's apartment.
  • John Henton – Overton "Obie" Wakefield Jones, Kyle's roommate and the brownstone's handyman; Synclaire's sweetheart.
  • Kim Fields (credited as Kim Fields-Freeman) – Regina "Regine" Hunter (Episodes 1–115), Khadijah and Synclaire's gossip-loving roommate; Khadijah's childhood friend.
  • T.C. Carson – Kyle Barker (Episodes 1–107; guest appearance in episode 118), Overton's roommate and stockbroker; Max's verbal sparring partner and on-again, off-again love interest.
  • Mel Jackson – Ira Lee "Tripp" Williams (Season 5), Khadijah and Regine's new roommate; aspiring songwriter.

Minor characters[edit]

Khadijah's family and relationships[edit]

  • Rita Owens — Rita James (Season 1–4), Khadijah's mother
  • Michael Warren — Ed James (Season 4), Khadijah's father
  • Barbara Montgomery – Nana James (Season 2), Khadijah's grandmother
  • Tatyana Ali – Stephanie Jones (Season 2), Khadijah's half-sister
  • Cress Williams — Terrence "Scooter" Williams, Khadijah's childhood friend and boyfriend
  • Isaiah Washington — Dr. Charles Roberts (Season 4), Khadijah's anesthesiologist and boyfriend

Kyle's colleagues[edit]

  • Bobby Hosea — Lawrence (Season 1–3), Kyle's rival at the brokerage
  • Steven Gilborn — Jeffrey Higgins (Season 2–4), Kyle's boss

Maxine's family and relationships[edit]

  • CCH Pounder – Nina Shaw (Season 3), Maxine's mother
  • Richard Lyons — Michael Janson (Season 1–2), Max's occasional date

Overton's family[edit]

Regine's family and relationships[edit]

  • Chip Fields — Laverne Hunter, Regine's mother
  • Heavy D — Darryl (Season 2–4), Regine's friend
  • Khalil Kain — Keith (Season 3–4), Regine's boyfriend and artist

Synclaire's family[edit]

Flavor staff[edit]

Other characters[edit]

  • Dorien Wilson — Rev. Leslie Taylor (Season 3–4), pastor at the group's church
  • Idalis DeLeon — Roni De Santos (Season 5), popular New York City deejay and Tripp's love interest

Guest stars[edit]

Home media[edit]

Warner Home Video released the complete first season of Living Single on DVD in Region 1 on February 14, 2006. The entire series is also available for digital download on Amazon.com and the iTunes Store.

Warner Archive subsequently released season 2-5 on DVD in Region 1. These are Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) releases, available from Warner's online store and Amazon.com.[14][15][16][17]

DVD name Episodes Region 1
The Complete First Season 27 February 14, 2006
The Complete Second Season 27 September 19, 2017
The Complete Third Season 27 November 21, 2017
The Complete Fourth Season 24 March 20, 2018
The Complete Fifth Season 13 June 5, 2018

Cancellation[edit]

In May 1997, Fox announced that it had ordered 13 episodes of the fifth season of Living Single but that the episodes would be delayed until January 1998.[18] Three months later, Fox made a change to its fall schedule, delayed the airing of a new comedy called Rewind, and decided to air Living Single's fifth season on September 11.[19] The final episode of the fifth season aired on January 1, 1998.[20] Fox decided to cancel the show afterwards.[21]

Crossovers[edit]

  • Half & Half: Erika Alexander and T.C. Carson reprised their roles of Maxine Shaw and Kyle Barker on the UPN sitcom, Half & Half (a series produced by Living Single creator Yvette Lee Bowser). In the episode ("The Big Performance Anxiety Episode", third season), ambitious law student Dee Dee learns that her mother's co-star in a play is engaged to Maxine, Dee Dee's idol. However, her mother gets Maxine's beau, Kyle, fired because she fears he will take attention away from her. The episode also revealed that Maxine and Kyle remained a couple and were the proud parents of their seven-year-old daughter named Kyla.
  • The Crew: In one episode "The Mating Season" of the short-lived Fox sitcom The Crew, Regine becomes a passenger on a flight and argues with a sassy stewardess in hopes of upgrading to first class. On another episode, "The Worst Noel", Synclaire also becomes a passenger. The episode served as a bridge for The Crew and its lead-in show, Living Single.

Syndication[edit]

Living Single started reruns in syndication on September 22, 1997. Reruns of the series currently run daily on BET, TV One, MTV2, and Bounce TV and VH1. As of January 11, 2018, all episodes began streaming on Hulu.

Reunion specials[edit]

An hour-long retrospective special, Living Single: The Reunion Show, aired on TV One on September 22, 2008. Coles, Henton, Fields, Carson and Alexander reunited to share fond memories with the fans. Queen Latifah and Mel Jackson were unavailable to participate. The special featured clips and revealing secrets of the cast from the show's five-year run.

From August 24–26, 2018, TV One aired a weekend marathon of "Living Single" to highlight the 25th anniversary of the show. Coles, Henton, Fields, and Carson reunited once again to share memories with the fans, to share their thoughts on the characters they portrayed, and provided a tribute to Rita Owens (Queen Latifah's real-life and TV mother), who had passed in early 2018. Queen Latifah, Erika Alexander and Mel Jackson were unavailable to participate.

Production[edit]

Concept[edit]

Yvette Lee Bowser, show creator's, initial goal was to create a show about her and her friends that changed the portrayal of young Black people on television. Her overall goal was to portray Black characters in a positive and less stereotypical light. She also noted that the women represented on Living Single are four different sides of her, saying in an interview that "I've been as ditsy as Synclaire, as superficial as Regine, as bitter as Max and as focused and driven as Khadijah." [22]

Reception[edit]

Audience Reception[edit]

Living Single remained one of the highest-rated program among Black audiences during its run from 1993 to 1998. However, the show had struggled to break into lists of top television programs that were viewed by larger White audiences. Those who loved and watched the show regularly have told show creator, Yvette Lee Bowser that they connect with the characters of the show, love the cast, and are inspired by the positive, elegant, and professional portrayal of Black people on television. Bowser noting that, "People say our characters remind them of themselves, their friends or their relatives. They all know someone like one of the characters."[23]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards and nominations for Living Single
Year Awards Category Performer Result
1998 Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Erika Alexander Won
Outstanding Comedy Series Won
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Queen Latifah Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Kim Coles Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series T.C. Carson Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series John Henton Nominated

In 1995 and 1996, Living Single was nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Comedy Series (Bryan Hays).[24][25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bash, Alan (December 17, 1994). "Single and Loving it...Twice". USA Today. Chillicothe Gazette (Chillicothe, Ohio).
  2. ^ Cerone, Daniel (March 27, 1993). "Networks Give Fall TV Pilots a Chance to Fly". Los Angeles Times. Pittsburg Post-Gazette. p. C11.
  3. ^ Kloer, Phil (July 13, 1993). "Fox to Get Early Start on Fall Season Debuts". The Atlanta Constitution. p. D8.
  4. ^ "Fox Changes Name of Show". The Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana). July 30, 1993. p. 4.
  5. ^ Braxton, Greg (February 6, 1994). "'Living Single' Shakes Off Criticism". Los Angeles Times. Austin American-Statesman (Austin, Texas).
  6. ^ a b c Bash, Alan (January 26, 1995). "2 Tales of Singles in the City, Yet Strangers in the Night". USA Today. The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware). p. D1, D2.
  7. ^ a b Zurawik, David (May 6, 1996). "Blacks, Whites Have Divided Taste in TV". The Baltimore Sun. Kenosha News (Kenosha, Wisconsin). p. 13.
  8. ^ a b de la Viña, Mark (February 26, 1996). "Surveys Show Blacks, Whites Mostly View Their Own on TV". Philadelphia Daily News. p. 7.
  9. ^ a b Johnson, Allan (April 18, 1997). "The Difference Between Black and White Viewers a Study in Contrast". Chicago Tribune. p. Tempo 1, Tempo 3.
  10. ^ Braxton, Greg (February 1, 1996). "'Single' Asks for a Little Help". Los Angeles Times. p. F24.
  11. ^ "Final Ratings for '97-'98 TV Season".
  12. ^ "Fatal Distraction". Living Single. Season 1, Episode 16. First aired January 9, 1994.
  13. ^ a b "Basketball Great a Guest Star on 'Living Singe'". Associated Press. The Daily Journal (Franklin, Indiana). August 21, 1994.
  14. ^ Living Single - HOORAY! Warner Archive Announces 'The Complete 2nd Season' 3-disc MOD set will finally be available in mid-Septembers Archived 2017-08-19 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Living Single - Warner Archive Announces DVDs for 'The Complete 3rd Season' MOD release is available online during the second half of November Archived 2017-10-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ Living Single - The Next-to-Last Season, 'The Complete 4th Season,' is Now Scheduled! MOD title will be available online in March from Amazon/CreateSpace and the WBshop!.
  17. ^ "Living Single: The Complete Fifth Season". 6 June 2018 – via Amazon.
  18. ^ Bauder, David (May 21, 1997). "Fox Adding Quintet of Shows to Its Lineup". Associated Press. Daily Record (Morristown, New Jersey).
  19. ^ Jackson, Terry (August 27, 1997). "'Living Single' Returns to Fox". Knight-Ridder Newspapers. York Daily Record (York, Pennsylvania).
  20. ^ McDonough, Kevin (January 1, 1998). "'Living Single' Bows Out With a Double Shot". Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, Pennsylvania). p. A10.
  21. ^ Sterngold, James (January 2, 1998). "Despite Some Advances, Television Remains 'A Boys Club'". The New York Times. The Arizona Republic.
  22. ^ Peoples, Betsy (1996). "A Serious Sitcom Success". Emerge. 7 – via Proquest Central.
  23. ^ Anonymous (1997). "The 9 Lives of 'Living Single'". Ebony Magazine. 53: 94–96 – via Proquest Central.
  24. ^ "Nighttime Nominees: A Complete Rundown". The Los Angeles Times. July 21, 1995. p. F30.
  25. ^ "And the Emmy Nominees Are". The Los Angeles Times. July 19, 1996. p. F22.

External links[edit]