On Screen Love: Top 10 Black TV Couples Of All TimePublished by Justin D Joseph on Friday, March 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm.
If your childhood was anything like mine, you spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights glued to the television. My sister and I would make sure every piece of our homework and every single chore was complete so that we could watch our favorite sitcoms undisturbed—but that was two decades ago. Things are quite different these days.
The advent of the Black sitcom brought with it positive images of something we rarely get to see on television these days—healthy and strong Black relationships, that aren’t marred in drama and madness (although this too is a reality, just not the only dynamic present).
Throughout the 70s to the late 90s, we were privy to a series of television couples that were a mirror of what was and is ACTUALLY happening in the Black community. Whether it was Cliff and Claire Huxtable juggling careers and family on ‘The Cosby Show’, Martin and Gina riding the dating roller coaster into matrimony on ‘Martin’, or George and Weezy “movin’ on up” on ‘The Jeffersons’, these relationships made you feel good about being Black, progressive, educated, and in love—Black love.
Remember these days? We definitely do. Check out our list of the top ten Black Television Couples of All Time (In no particular order):
The Top 10 Black Television Couples of All Time
1. Cliff and Claire Huxtable – “The Cosby Show”
When Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad stepped into the roles of Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable, OB-GYN; and Claire Hank Huxtable, Esq., in 1984, it became a landmark television moment—revolutionary even. The couple juggled successful professional careers, all the while raising their brood of children: Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa and Rudy—who knew this happened in real life? (hope you’re hearing the sarcasm).
2. Martin Payne and Gina Waters – “Martin”
While their off-camera relationship was quite tumultuous, Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell-Martin had an undeniable chemistry playing the radio host and his advertising exec girlfriend. The fights, the make-ups, the conversations—all amazing relatable moments.
3. Overton Wakefield-Jones and Sinclaire James -”Living Single”
As the 90s progressed, dynamic black sitcom couples started to dwindle in greatness. John Henton and Kim Coles’ characters on the popular sitcom were a match made in television heaven. Her off-kilter train of thought seemed to gel perfectly with his penchant for enjoying the simple things in life.
4. Lester and Mary Jenkins – “227″
Marla Gibbs’ portrayal of the no-nonsense, head-strong housewife Mary Jenkins, was off-set by the calm yet stern Lester Jenkins, played by veteran actor Hal Williams. The parents of daughter Brenda (Regina King), this television couple balanced each other well—she created the problems, and he solved them.
5. Carl and Harriett Winslow -”Family Matters”
For nine seasons, Reginald VelJohnson and Jo Marie Payton brought Carl and Harriett to life every Friday on ABC. The parents of three—then two, after their television daughter Judy (played by Jaimee Foxworth) disappeared—loved each other hard, and their live-in relatives even harder—oh and that annoying next-door neighbor, Steven Q. Urkel (Jaleel White).
6. Phillip and Vivian Banks -”The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
While we love Daphne Maxwell-Reid, there was something about the original Vivian (played by the out-spoken Janet Hubert) that will forever resonate with us. Vivian, the educated college professor and her lawyer-turned-judge husband, Phillip Banks (played by James Avery), were a type of couple we hadn’t seen before. Unlike The Jefferson, they weren’t getting used to wealth—they were already acclimated.
7. Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert -”A Different World”
If you watched A Different World from inception, the idea of the ultra bougie Whitley Gilbert of Virginia and Dwayne Wayne, who was raised by working class parents in Brooklyn, seemed to be a odd notion. But when season two saw the Debbie Allen led revamp of the show, these two opposites attracted. Played by Kadeem Hardison and Jasmine Guy, the couple rode the wave of emotional up’s a downs dealing with the greatest social issues of the late 80s and early 90s.
8. James and Florida Evans -”Good Times”
Until his untimely death in season three, James and Florida Evans were television’s ultimate Black couple. Played by John Amos and the late Esther Rolle, the Evanses kept their heads above water, and their three children in line; even in the midst of economic and social oppression.
9. Rev. Dr. Reuben Gregory and Thelma Frye-”Amen”
This relationship started off platonic, but quickly became a very passionate love affair. For five season, viewers were able to the follow the natural evolution of the Rev (played by Clifton Davis) and Thelma’s (Anna Maria Horsford) relationship, which resulted in the birth of a son in season four.
10. George and Weezy Jefferson – “The Jeffersons”
When George and Louise Jefferson moved into their Upper East Side penthouse, they brought along with them the hopes and dreams of Black television lovers across the country. George (played by Sherman Hemsley) was a smack-talking, loud mouthed, funky-chicken dancing owner of a successful chain of dry cleaning stores, while his wife Louise—affectionately known as Weezy—(played by Isabel Sanford) held down their glamorous new digs, and raising their teenage son, Lionel.
—Justin Dwayne Joseph/Suezette Yasmin Robotham