Cool Shit BET Did Back In The Day, Ranked

Ananda Lewis, 2002 (Scott Gries/Getty Images)
Ananda Lewis, 2002 (Scott Gries/Getty Images)

8. BET Uncut

Yes it was exploitative, distasteful, low-budget, vulgar, objectionable, hateful, and, quite frankly, embarrassing, but…well…hmmm. Actually, there are no buts here. It had no redeeming value. But I watched it, and you did too, and how else would we have been exposed to Joker The Bailbondsman?


7. Hell Date

***A meeting at some BET programming executive's office some time in 2006***

Exec: So boss, we have this idea about a dating show where one of the daters is trying to intentionally sabotage the date. We think it will be hilarious. We even have a name for it: Hell Date.

Bossman: Wow, great idea!

Exec: Thanks boss!

Bossman: And you know what would be an even better idea? If we added a midget dressed as Satan to the show too!

Exec: Umm…are you sure that's a good idea, boss. I mean, isn't that kinda offensive?

Bossman: Nonsense! Midgets are hilarious. And so is Satan. Putting them together is comedy gold.


Exec: Ok, boss.

6. BET Nightly News with Jacque Reid

No one did "make a ridiculously attractive woman the host of a show" better than BET did in their prime. They were the Lionel Messi of that shit. The Picasso. The Orson fucking Wells. No one has ever and will ever be better at anything than they were at having absolutely gorgeous women read from teleprompters.


5. Caribbean Rhythms

It would come on Saturdays. Rachel would show up in some bikini in Turks and Caicos. And then they'd air a Bounty Killer video. And then Rachel would come back in a different bikini, and they'd be in the Bahamas, and she'd be eating grouper. And then they'd go to a commercial break.


And this was the ENTIRE show. For the entire show's run. And it was awesome.

4. Rap City

I fell down a YouTube rabbithole a couple weekends ago, and ended up landing on some old freestyle sessions from the basement, including this now famous one from the Dipset.

At first I got all verklempt about stuff like this not being on TV anymore. But then I remembered it's probably a good thing. Because just the thought of Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan mouth breathing in a televised freestyle session makes my eyeballs bleed.


3. Video Soul

It doesn't seem possible or even probable that every Black person in America would have at least one uncle who looks like Donnie Simpson and at least one aunt who looks like Sherry Carter. But we all do. And this scares the hell out of me, so I think we should just move on.


2. Comic View

Yes, it's true that many of the comedians were forgettable. And it's also true that the forgettable comedians were usually forgettable because their jokes were either about shit Black people do differently than White people (and vice versa) or sex. But just think of all the comedians (Cedric the Entertainer, Sommore, etc) who were able to use it as a launching pad. And think of all the times there was nothing on TV, but you could count on BET running one of their 96-hour-long Comic View marathons to entertain you all night.


1. Teen Summit

You know how there will be some meeting at work you really, really, really don't want to attend, but you heard there's going to be pizza and maybe even some Chipotle there, so you go for the pizza and Chipotle, stay for the pizza and Chipotle, and while you're there eating the pizza and Chipotle, you realize the meeting isn't actually all that bad? It wasn't a waste of time and you're actually learning something practical and applicable?


Ananda Lewis was Teen Summit's pizza and Chipotle.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



As we all reminisce about BET and our youth, how would you fix BET (if you believe it needs fixing)? I mean if I had unlimited funds, I could see investing in more original content. There is a lot of black talent out there that is not getting funded or the exposure.

Edited to add: My nephews don't even know BET exists. They watch everything online, YouTube mostly. How would get them engaged?