I don’t know about you, but this weekend all I’ve done is catch up on Living Single streaming on Hulu. I (not so secretly) wanted to be on this show and most definitely imagined their little cocoon in Brooklyn was what I was going to have when I hit 25+ years old. When this show first aired, I was in elementary/middle school so I’m rewatching as a refresher (honestly I wish all of my childhood faves would show up on Hulu!). Though I watched casually as a youngin, I forgot there were so many motifs and themes strewn throughout the show that taught me quite a bit. What are they?
The most obvious of them all, Living Single taught me about sisterhood. I didn’t have any growing up so this show taught me what it was to have healthy relationships with other women. Relationships where you don’t always agree, where you apologize when you are wrong, you let your girl know when you think she’s making a bad decision, be brutally honest no matter the cost, and always grab a tub of ice cream and a good flick when your Sis is out of sorts. Khadijah pushing her pride aside to apologize to Regine when Regine moved out, Maxine screaming “I think you’re making the worst decision of your life!” when Khadijah said yes to Scooter’s marriage proposal, and Synclaire’s infinite “woo-woo”s whenever something was wrong are prime examples of that. Unlike other shows of it’s time (re: Martin, A Different World, etc), I think this is the most realistic depiction of what actual friendship is.
2. My Blackness doesn’t define me.
One of the things I love most about Living Single is how unapologetically Black the show is without actually mentioning Blackness (which eventually ends up being to their detriment, but I digress). From Khadijah’s HBCU gear to Kyle’s mudcloth everything, there’s Blackness all around but it doesn’t define the characters in the slightest. There’s a successful attorney, financier, media mogul, actress, fashion buyer, and handyman all in one brownstone. Max and Kyle are witty and sharp-tongued, Khadijah is intelligent and down-to-earth, Regine is worldly and Sinclair and Overton are just aloof as they want to be. Blackness was allowed to have layers on Living Single, and I appreciate that. It was okay to be smart, it was okay to be quirky, it was okay to be me.
Feminism rang heavily throughout Living Single, especially in Season 1. Maxine in particular took the charge with her one-hitter quips, serving as a constant reminder to the group that they didn’t need men to maintain fully, healthy lives. Her most famous moment, the “once we give ourselves the respect we deserve” speech, is below:
Realest. Talk. Ever. 25 years later and this is relevant to my life and every. single. woman. I. know. Who is going to make this a plaque? because I need to hang this on my wall. Another one of my favorites from Max:
“…you’re a woman”.
The feminism just seeps through the pores of this series.
When Living Single’s pilot episode hit FOX, I was about 6 or 7 years old. At that time I had no concept of entrepreneurship. I didn’t even know it was an option. Growing up in the 90’s, we were told you go to school, you graduate, you get a nice job working for someone else and you retire. To see a woman – a Black woman – running her own company brightened the stars in my eyes. It also helped me realize Journalism and Media were career paths. Ever since then, I’ve always wanted to be Khadijah James (people compare me to her often!).
Khadijah aside, so many people were business owners on the show. It was show full of bosses. People owned properties. People owned businesses. Everyone was sustaining and doing them. It was a beautiful thing.
5. Fashion isn’t one-dimensional.
Living Single, A Different World and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air did costumes so well. They expressed their characters personalities through their clothing, again giving multi-dimension to Blackness. There was the boho floral-bucket-hat-maxi-dress from Synclaire, structured power suit from Maxine, high fashion from Regine, tomboy gear from Khadijah, afrocentric polish from Kyle and relaxed nature from Overton. I also realized each personality was allowed to be versatile – every now and then Maxine wore a crop top and shorts, Regine wore a baseball cap and Jordans, Synclaire wore a pair of suspenders, and Khadijah threw on a dress. They had fun with their fashion and made me want to do the same.
Have you caught Living Single streaming on Hulu yet? BRB – going to finish season 3!