Living Single
First season DVD cover
GenreSitcom
Created byYvette Lee Bowser
StarringQueen Latifah
Kim Coles
Erika Alexander
Kim Fields
T.C. Carson
John Henton
Mel Jackson
Theme music composerQueen Latifah
Opening theme"We Are Living Single"
by Queen Latifah
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes118 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producersYvette Lee Bowser
Roger S.H. Schulman
Production locationsWarner Bros. Studios,
Burbank, California
Camera setupVideotape; Multi-camera
Running time22 minutes
Production companiesSisterLee Productions
(1994–1998)
(seasons 2–5)
Warner Bros. Television
Original release
NetworkFox
ReleaseAugust 22, 1993 (1993-08-22) –
January 1, 1998 (1998-01-01)

Living Single is an American television sitcom created by Yvette Lee Bowser that aired for five seasons on the Fox network, from August 22, 1993, to January 1, 1998. The show centers on the lives of six New York City friends who share personal and professional experiences while living in a Brooklyn brownstone. Living Single is widely regarded as being one of the most influential shows of the '90s.

Episodes

Main article: List of Living Single episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankViewers
(millions)
First airedLast aired
127August 22, 1993 (1993-08-22)May 15, 1994 (1994-05-15)#569.3
227September 1, 1994 (1994-09-01)May 18, 1995 (1995-05-18)#84[citation needed]8.7
327August 31, 1995 (1995-08-31)May 9, 1996 (1996-05-09)#111[citation needed]6.5
424August 29, 1996 (1996-08-29)May 8, 1997 (1997-05-08)#104[citation needed]6.2
513September 11, 1997 (1997-09-11)January 1, 1998 (1998-01-01)#117[1]7.0

Living Single centered on six people consisting of four women and two men living the single life in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.[2]

The series focused on two different households in one brownstone, one shared by a trio of independent women and another shared by two male friends who had known each other since childhood while living in Cleveland, Ohio. In the first apartment, Khadijah James (Queen Latifah), a hard-working editor and publisher of the fictional urban independent magazine Flavor, lived with her sweet but naive cousin Synclaire James (Kim Coles), an aspiring actress who worked as Khadijah's receptionist and had an affinity for Troll dolls, and her childhood friend from East Orange, New Jersey, Regina "Régine" Hunter (Kim Fields), an image-conscious boutique buyer who was on a constant search for a well-to-do man to spend her life (and his money) with. Later in the series, Régine became a costume assistant for the soap opera Palo Alto. When the soap was canceled, she became a wedding planner and left the apartment to move in with her fiancé Dexter Knight (Don Franklin). Maxine "Max" Shaw (Erika Alexander), a sharp-tongued Attorney and Khadijah's best friend from their college days at Howard University, frequently stopped by to share her unique insights and the events of her day, to make sure that the girls' refrigerator wasn't overstocked, and to start trouble with Kyle, looking for any chance to make his life worse.

Kyle Barker (T.C. Carson) lived in the second apartment with Overton Wakefield Jones (John Henton). Overton was the friendly but bucolic maintenance man for the owner of their (and neighboring) building, who held a deep affection for Synclaire and plenty of hilarious homespun wisdom for everyone else. Kyle was a stockbroker whose constant verbal sparring with Max did little to mask their obvious sexual attraction to each other. Kyle and Max pursued a sexual relationship, but when he decided to take a job in London and invited Max to join him, she turned him down. Maxine subsequently became distraught over her decision and, after defending a man who claimed to be the second coming of Jesus (Harold Perrineau), she began to take her life more seriously. Through a series of events, Max decided that her purpose must be to become a mother. During the insemination process, she unknowingly picked Kyle's sperm specimen based on a list of qualities she would like for her child to have. Kyle returned in the series finale, and the two reconciled. Overton and Synclaire also got together, and their relationship culminated in marriage by the end of the fourth season. In season five, they moved in together, leaving Overton and Kyle's apartment open for new character Roni DeSantos (Idalis DeLeon), a New York-area D.J., to move in. It was eventually revealed that DeSantos had a fling with Ira Lee "Tripp" Williams III, (Mel Jackson), a songwriter whom Khadijah and Régine allowed to move in when Synclaire's room became available. Synclaire joined a comedy improv troupe where she gained the attention of Tony Jonas, a Warner Bros. Television executive who cast her as a nun for a new comedy series he was developing.

Along with trying to make Flavor a success, Khadijah also looked for Mr. Right. She eventually found him in childhood friend Scooter (Cress Williams), with whom she left the brownstone for the final time in the series finale.

Cast and characters

Regular cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast

Home media

Warner Home Video released the complete first season of Living Single on DVD in Region 1 on February 14, 2006. The entire series is also available for digital download on Amazon.com and the iTunes Store.

Warner Archive subsequently released seasons 2–5 on DVD in Region 1. These are Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) releases, available from Warner's online store and Amazon.com.[4][5][6][7]

DVD name Episodes Region 1
The Complete First Season 27 February 14, 2006
The Complete Second Season 27 September 19, 2017
The Complete Third Season 27 November 21, 2017
The Complete Fourth Season 24 March 20, 2018
The Complete Fifth Season 13 June 5, 2018

Production

Queen Latifah and Kim Coles both had development deals with Fox.[8] In March 1993, Fox announced that Queen Latifah and Coles would star in a comedy sitcom called My Girls, about roommates in New York City.[9] The character of Khadijah was created for Queen Latifah. Khadijah is an entrepreneur who started an urban-lifestyle magazine, much as Latifah is an entrepreneur who started her hip-hop record label.[10] Fox changed the show's name to Living Single three weeks before its television debut.[11]

Creator Yvette Lee Bowser's initial goal was to develop a show about herself and her friends that would change the portrayal of young Black people on television. Her overall goal was to portray Black characters positively and less stereotypical. She also noted that the women represented on Living Single are four different sides of herself, saying in an interview, "I've been as ditsy as Synclaire, as superficial as Regine, as bitter as Max, and as focused and driven as Khadijah."[12]

In May 1997, Fox announced that it had ordered 13 episodes of the fifth season of Living Single but would be delayed until January 1998.[13] Three months later, Fox made a change to its fall schedule, delayed the airing of a new comedy called Rewind, and decided to debut Living Single's fifth season on September 11.[14] The final episode of the fifth season aired on January 1, 1998.[15][16]

Crossovers

Syndication

Living Single started reruns in syndication on September 22, 1997, through various Fox, UPN, and WB affiliates; these were later CW affiliates in terms of UPN and WB. The series formerly reran on USA Network, Logo TV, BET, and Oxygen. Syndication carriage on the local level fizzled out in 2006. Reruns of the series currently run daily on cable networks TV One, MTV2, Bounce TV, WCIU and VH1. As of January 11, 2018, all episodes began streaming on Hulu, and on HBO Max as of September 22, 2022.

Reunion specials

An hour-long retrospective special, Living Single: The Reunion Show, aired on TV One on September 22, 2008. Coles, Henton, Fields, Carson and Alexander reunited to share fond memories with the fans. Queen Latifah and Mel Jackson were unavailable to participate. The special featured clips and revealing secrets of the cast from the show's five-year run.

From August 24 to 26, 2018, TV One aired a weekend marathon of "Living Single" to highlight the 25th anniversary of the show. Coles, Henton, Fields, and Carson reunited once again to share memories with the fans, to share their thoughts on the characters they portrayed and provided a tribute to Rita Owens (Queen Latifah's real-life and TV mother), who had passed in early 2018. Queen Latifah, Erika Alexander and Mel Jackson were unavailable to participate.

Reception

During Living Single's first season, it consistently garnered higher ratings than Martin, which aired in the time slot immediately before it on Thursday nights, and it quickly became the fourth highest-rated show aired on Fox among their 12 current series.[17]

Throughout its run, Living Single became one of the most popular African-American sitcoms of its era, ranking among the top five in African-American ratings in all five seasons.[18][19][20][21] Newspaper critics contrasted Living Single with the NBC sitcom Friends which was inspired by the post-college experiences of Marta Kauffman and David Crane and in development around November of 1993 after the cult show premiered.[22][8][18][19][20][21] Living Single featured successful Black characters including an attorney, a stockbroker, and a business owner, in contrast to Friends, which featured white characters including a waitress, a folk singer, and an unemployed actor.[18] Show creator Yvette Lee Bowser was disappointed that Warner Bros. did not promote Living Single nearly as much as it did Friends'.'[23]

Living Single was never one of the highest-rated programs among audiences during its run from 1993 to 1998. Indeed, the show had struggled to break into lists of top television programs viewed by larger audiences and never broke into the Top 50, though it was a higher performer for the Fox network itself. Those who loved and watched the show regularly have told show creator Yvette Lee Bowser that they connect with its characters, love the cast, and are inspired by the positive, elegant, and professional portrayal of Black people on television. Bowser noted that "People say our characters remind them of themselves, their friends or their relatives. They all know someone like one of the characters."[24]

Awards and nominations

Awards and nominations for Living Single
Year Awards Category Performer Result
1998 Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Erika Alexander Won
Outstanding Comedy Series Won
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Queen Latifah Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Kim Coles Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series T.C. Carson Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series John Henton Nominated

In 1995 and 1996, Living Single was nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Comedy Series (Bryan Hays).[25][26]

References

  1. ^ "Final Ratings for '97-'98 TV Season". 25 May 1998.
  2. ^ "Fatal Distraction". Living Single. Season 1, Episode 16. First aired January 9, 1994.
  3. ^ a b "Basketball Great a Guest Star on 'Living Singe'". Associated Press. The Daily Journal (Franklin, Indiana). August 21, 1994.
  4. ^ Living Single - HOORAY! Warner Archive Announces 'The Complete 2nd Season' 3-disc MOD set will finally be available in mid-Septembers Archived 2017-08-19 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Living Single - Warner Archive Announces DVDs for 'The Complete 3rd Season' MOD release is available online during the second half of November Archived 2017-10-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Living Single - The Next-to-Last Season, 'The Complete 4th Season,' is Now Scheduled! MOD title will be available online in March from Amazon/CreateSpace and the WBshop!.
  7. ^ "Living Single: The Complete Fifth Season". 6 June 2018 – via Amazon.
  8. ^ a b Bash, Alan (December 17, 1994). "Single and Loving it...Twice". USA Today. Chillicothe Gazette (Chillicothe, Ohio).
  9. ^ Cerone, Daniel (March 27, 1993). "Networks Give Fall TV Pilots a Chance to Fly". Los Angeles Times. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. C11.
  10. ^ Kloer, Phil (July 13, 1993). "Fox to Get Early Start on Fall Season Debuts". The Atlanta Constitution. p. D8.
  11. ^ "Fox Changes Name of Show". The Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana). July 30, 1993. p. 4.
  12. ^ Peoples, Betsy (1996). "A Serious Sitcom Success". Emerge. 7 – via Proquest Central.
  13. ^ Bauder, David (May 21, 1997). "Fox Adding Quintet of Shows to Its Lineup". Associated Press. Daily Record (Morristown, New Jersey).
  14. ^ Jackson, Terry (August 27, 1997). "'Living Single' Returns to Fox". Knight-Ridder Newspapers. York Daily Record (York, Pennsylvania).
  15. ^ McDonough, Kevin (January 1, 1998). "'Living Single' Bows Out With a Double Shot". Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, Pennsylvania). p. A10.
  16. ^ Sterngold, James (January 2, 1998). "Despite Some Advances, Television Remains 'A Boys Club'". The New York Times. The Arizona Republic.
  17. ^ Braxton, Greg (February 6, 1994). "'Living Single' Shakes Off Criticism". Los Angeles Times. Austin American-Statesman (Austin, Texas).
  18. ^ a b c Bash, Alan (January 26, 1995). "2 Tales of Singles in the City, Yet Strangers in the Night". USA Today. The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware). p. D1, D2.
  19. ^ a b Zurawik, David (May 6, 1996). "Blacks, Whites Have Divided Taste in TV". The Baltimore Sun. Kenosha News (Kenosha, Wisconsin). p. 13.
  20. ^ a b de la Viña, Mark (February 26, 1996). "Surveys Show Blacks, Whites Mostly View Their Own on TV". Philadelphia Daily News. p. 7.
  21. ^ a b Johnson, Allan (April 18, 1997). "The Difference Between Black and White Viewers a Study in Contrast". Chicago Tribune. p. Tempo 1, Tempo 3.
  22. ^ Roots, Kimberly (2020-02-03). "Friends' David Schwimmer Apologizes for Diversity Comments: 'I Didn't Mean to Imply Living Single Hadn't Existed'". TVLine. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  23. ^ Braxton, Greg (February 1, 1996). "'Single' Asks for a Little Help". Los Angeles Times. p. F24.
  24. ^ Anonymous (1997). "The 9 Lives of 'Living Single'". Ebony Magazine. 53: 94–96 – via Proquest Central.
  25. ^ "Nighttime Nominees: A Complete Rundown". The Los Angeles Times. July 21, 1995. p. F30.
  26. ^ "And the Emmy Nominees Are". The Los Angeles Times. July 19, 1996. p. F22.