Moesha was a popular black sitcom that debuted in early 1996 (UPN Network) and ended in 2001, captivating teens and anyone that resonated with its characters. The show starred singing sensation Brandy as Moesha Mitchell. Other stars throughout the seasons of the show included Lamont Bentley as Hakeem Campbell, William Allen Young as Frank Mitchell, Sheryl Lee Ralph as Dee Mitchell, Marcus T. Paulk as Myles Mitchell, Countess Vaughn as Kimberly Ann Parker, Shar Jackson as Niecy Jackson, Yvette Wilson as Andell Wilkerson, Fredro Starr as Quinton “Q” Brooks, and Ray J as Dorian Long. It was a favorite of many due to its positive representation of a black family unit. The show was centered around the life of teenager Moesha Mitchell, who was driven, goal oriented, and well grounded. She would always take a stance on what she believed in and was a very passionate girl, committed to writing and loved and cherished those closest to her. Her friends often made jokes about how drama filled her life, and oftentimes, her love life was. Moesha covered various topics: death of a parent, absence of a father, teen pregnancy, sex, race issues, mental health awareness/suicide, youthful romance, marriage, traditional and modern gender roles, and family secrets. Moesha remains one of my favorite shows of all time, so I was excited when I learned that Netflix would be adding it to its library along with six other famous black sitcoms. Prior to the show being added to Netflix, I would reminisce about memorable episodes and the characters’ highlighted moments and traits. As many fans would agree, seasons one through four were particularly the best. Seasons five and six, in my opinion, were downright confusing and the major turns of events were unforgettable. Now, I can admit that certain points of the final two seasons were interesting. However, many of those final moments appeared forced, unnecessary, and unconvincing. Here are some of the biggest mistakes I feel were made in Moesha.
- Dorian- What was the point of adding this character? Dorian is the “nephew” of Frank, and the “son” of Frank’s sister, Sandy. He is a troubled teenager whose father was absent in his life, so he desperately needed a father figure to help guide him down the right path and to teach him about manhood. He ran away from home in Oakland to go to Los Angeles to the Mitchell house. It was going to be temporary, but he stayed. Throughout his journey, Dorian continued his old troublesome habits by linking up with criminal Patience, to rob college dorms, running with the wrong crowds, cutting school, and misguiding young Myles. The stay should have been for a week, then he should have gone back home. Frank could have made trips to visit him throughout the show, but Dorian’s actions were disastrous. Boot Camp couldn’t even help this kid. In the end, he made no progress, playing a major role in Myles’ kidnapping. Dorian was pointless.
- Uncle Frank is Daddy Frank- This was the biggest mistake in the show’s history. It was revealed in season five that while Frank was separated from his first wife and mother of his children, he had an affair that produced Dorian. His first wife was going to leave him, so Frank’s sister Sandy stepped in and decided to adopt Dorian as her son. This was a shocker and diminished Frank’s character as the honest, direct, loving, and caring father. Viewers admired Frank and believed he was a very standup individual. My father has always been present in my life and I still look at TV dads for life lessons and inspiration from a male’s perspective. Frank was a favorite, so the lies and deceit was not only confusing, but heartbreaking and I didn’t know what to make of him. I feel that the show may have been desperate for a good storyline; this wasn’t it.
- Moesha and Hakeem’s Romantic Relationship- Some may have wanted the two best friends to become an item for a long time. Friendship is the best place to start all relationships, right? Wrong, but only to a certain degree. Some friendships are meant to remain friendships and not all male and female friends are destined to be a couple. Hakeem and Moesha are proof of that. They were together for weeks (approximately equivalent to two episodes) and experienced issues in the relationship about how time was spent. Q, Moesha’s first love, came back into town. The two missed each other and talked about what happened in their lives since departing. Q propositions Moesha about becoming a manager. Moesha would have had to leave California and school temporarily to do this and she took the offer after she caught Niecy and Hakeem kissing. Moesha and Hakeem break up, Moesha and Q get back together, then get engaged. There was a confrontation between Hakeem and Q on Thanksgiving and Moesha and Q broke up. Hakeem fought to get Moesha back and it paid off. The entire relationship didn’t feel very genuine and was short lived. Hakeem started out attending community college and was unsure about a career path. He could have dated someone that inspired him to find his passion. Moesha was the only one that benefited from the relationship academically because he was her “muse” for the philosophy paper. The two didn’t compliment each other very well and Moesha didn’t seem to be into Hakeem as much as he was into her. The relationship didn’t have a chance; it was forced. In other episodes, such as the episode where Hakeem buys Moesha that beautiful necklace, fans did wonder, “what if they actually were together”? Once the opportunity presented itself, it was very rushed. The bond was stronger when they were friends and both would have been better off in long term relationships with other people.
- Myles STILL Never Received Much Attention- Throughout the show, young Myles was depicted as the typical annoying younger brother to his older sister. Myles overall was sweet, but got a kick out of seeing Moesha get in trouble and loved ruining her fun. He shined through his abilities to dance well and was peaceful in the midst of family drama that didn’t involve him: when Moesha moved out in season three, Myles wanted her back home. So, for Frank’s birthday, he decided to continue plans for a birthday party by inviting Moesha. She and Frank talk and Moesha moves back home. When it was revealed in season five that Dorian was Frank’s son, Myles was the only family member that didn’t lash out at his father and reassured Frank that he loved him. In season four, marijuana was found in the house and was suspected to be Moesha’s; it turned out to be for Myles. The Mitchell’s attended therapy sessions to get down to the bottom of Myles’ behavior as well as other family issues. Myles felt as though Moesha didn’t care about him and only wanted to spend time with her friends. He felt that Frank and Dee were more concerned about Moesha and not him. Even after therapy, Myles didn’t get the attention he needed. The focus that was placed on Dorian should’ve been placed on Myles. Fans should’ve seen how far Myles’ interest in dancing went; Moesha’s passion was writing and we saw her hone those skills, so it should’ve been the same way with Myles’ dancing. We also should’ve seen more growth in his character: a possible romance, Myles developing a more stable group of friends that he could count on, the family taking more time out to listen to him, etc. Myles became Dorian’s follower and Dorian had a negative impact on Myles. He had potential to be more than what he was had he not been kidnapped or followed Dorian.
- That Last Episode- If you’re a fan of the show, there really isn’t much that needs to be said about how the show officially ended. Not everything is meant to end on a happy note, but so many things were unclear. Someone was pregnant, Hakeem wanted Moesha to live with him over the summer, and thanks to Dorian, Myles was kidnapped by criminal Lamont. Dorian was focusing on becoming a rapper and had a rap group with his friends (they sucked); he refused to give up a percentage of the group to Lamont, so his revenge on Dorian was kidnapping Myles.
There were so many directions, creatively, that Moesha could’ve gone in, but it failed to do so. Fans were left with their own suspicions of what happened to Myles and which girl was pregnant. Due to Hakeem’s appearances on The Parkers, I don’t think he and Moesha stayed together. He dated Stevie for a short period of time, started attending a university, and appeared to be in great spirits. Also, there was no mention of Hakeem being a father when he appeared on The Parkers for the road trip, so Moesha wasn’t the pregnant girl from my observation. Hakeem would be doing well despite not having his father around. He probably would be a hip-hop mogul today. Maybe they did get Myles back, but he definitely needed more therapy. Today, I think Myles may be in rehab because he was the least developed character and needed more attention; no attention possibly drove him to heavier drug use. Frank and Dee would still be together. Moesha may be a well-established author in another country. Niecy probably owns a dance company, is financially stable, and holds big family dinners at her house with her big family. Who knows what the characters would be like today? There’s always hope that they turned out great. We’ll never know for sure. It will go down in history as one of the greatest sitcoms of all time.
Rest in Peace to some of Moesha’s brightest fallen stars that faded way too soon (Regulars and some notable guests)…
Lamont Bentley as Hakeem Campbell- October 25, 1973-January 19, 2005 (Car accident)
Yvette Wilson as Andell Wilkerson- March 6, 1964-June 14, 2012 (Cervical cancer)
Bernie Mac as Uncle Bernie- October 5, 1957-August 9, 2008 (Sarcoidosis)
Merlin Santana as Ohaji- March 14, 1976-November 9, 2002 (Shooting; murder)
Ricky Harris as Javon Aramis- 1962-December 26, 2016 (Heart attack)
You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten.