Like many Negroes with a Hulu subscription (or, if you’re a lightweight scammer, someone with the password to a paid subscriber’s account), you’ve been treating yourself to Living Single marathons. I have loved this show ever since it was a part of Fox’s old black-night trifecta alongside Martin and New York Undercover. Insert a moment of silence for Eddie Torres here.
While I hold all these shows near and dear, you notice things about them upon viewing them as an adult. When it comes to Living Single specifically, while I missed a few things, I’m noticing in hindsight that what I loved most about this show was captured in its first and second seasons. Those two seasons were like the television equivalent of all of the 1990s black romantic comedies that I loved. And then there were the next two seasons, which were fine but not as strong as the first two.
I can live with that and still enjoy them—well, the third more than the fourth, but I don’t want to piss off Alderwoman Maxine Shaw. Having said that, while many of us have been talking about the best of Living Single, little has been said about the final season. That’s probably for good reason: It was strange and, in some cases, quite terrible.
Again, I love Living Single, but by the fifth season, it was like the show ran out of gas and then exploded in a Taco Bell parking lot.
The final season was also its shortest, and to God be the glory for that because fans had suffered enough by then. In the first episode we meet Tripp, who seemed nice and all, but it’s the fifth season: We don’t want to meet any new damn people.
In the second episode, Kyle Barker flees for London. You know, I didn’t really love hearing Kyle Barker sing all that much, but he was way too integral to the show to just up and go. For the record, I still blame Maxine for running his ass away. Yes, she was a groundbreaking character and a pioneer in gluttony, but it was her fault.
In the third episode, we start repeating storylines, e.g., Khadijah James dating another basketball player. But, like, didn’t she already goof up with Grant Hill in the second season? How does she still not know how to date a baller? It’s a shame she didn’t learn until that movie with Common. Yeah, I know they had different names and lives concocted, but y’all know that character in Just Wright was just Khadijah with a second career after the media bubble of the 2000s and the recession. I assume by then, Flavor magazine went under and she went back to school.
Later, we get episodes that center on Overton, Tripp and Russell. Russell is amusing if you’re into sexual harassment and Jamaican accents that are a D-plus at best, but we never cared that much about him, did we? No. The answer is no.
As for Tripp, well, I already told y’all my stance on him was, “Ho, why is you here?” Speaking of new people, back then, I was happy that former MTV VJ Idalis DeLeón found some acting work, but I didn’t care about her, either, and the show never gave me that great a reason.
Then there were episodes like “Misleading Lady,” where Synclaire disguises herself as a man. You know, this show fell into those goofy tricks 1990s sitcoms used to employ to keep the machine going and pay their mortgage, but I truly wish they found something more to do with Kim Coles’ talent.
As for the other Kim, the legendary Kim Fields (we will ignore her time on The Real Housewives of Atlanta), she didn’t even make it to the damn finale. She finally gets a rich man and is so damn happy about it that she can’t tell our black asses goodbye? Maybe she knew the last few episodes were only going to get worse, and since she was the high-saditty character, she couldn’t keep suffering like this.
I didn’t deserve to suffer, though, ’cause that finale was the fool. We do get Kyle Barker back—but by way of a story that involves him being the anonymous sperm donor Maxine picked out? Really?! We’re going to end on “Big Wave Barker”?
Did everyone just give up by then?
Of all the times those two have had sex, it was the field trip to the sperm clinic that miraculously made these two parents? And isn’t she a lawyer? Wouldn’t she know he would have no legal rights, so if she was that over him, she could keep on pushing? Oh, wait, I’m supposed to find all of this romantic. As if it’s some kind of spin on Look Who’s Talking.
At least Scooter’s difficult ass showed up for Khadijah at the very last minute, but for all the love we declare about this show and the talk of a potential reboot, when I think about this final season, I am reminded of how bad it was and how much would have to fundamentally change in order for this show to be watchable in this century.
It can’t be as silly as the show became with time. Where will they all be living? Will Queen Latifah be running a digital site and bitter because reporting is expensive and opinion pieces are paying the brownstone she refuses to sell to the colonizers? Is Maxine Shaw a TV judge in Atlanta but moves back to New York? What is Synclaire doing? Tell me we don’t have to pretend Tripp ever existed.
I’m not saying a reboot is impossible, but some shows are easier tweaked than others. There’s Will & Grace and then there’s a bunch of other newly announced reboots that I know I will not be interested in watching. I was rooting for a Living Single reboot until I revisited how it ended.
Please do not be mad at me for anything I’ve written, Queen Latifah and blacks. Please don’t get me out of Wakanda for the thoughts and concerns expressed here. It’s just that we have to be honest about how this show ended if it is to be reborn. Smooches.