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Posted under: Editorial Desk Television

11 Shows We Wish Had A Black Female Character

We love binge watching these shows, but representation matters too!

What would television be like for black girls everywhere without Moesha, Dion, Whitley Gilbert, Hilary Banks, Khadijah James or even Aunt Viv (the dark skinned one)? Looking back, these women became iconic staples that taught us that black girls could be bad and bourgeois, rock a head full of box braids, become high-powered attorneys or even run their own magazine. Yes, we have access to independently produced films and web series, but what if our favorite major (whiter) shows had black characters? What if, for once, we didn’t have to fight to present diversity on television without just being the comedic relief or being killed off/disappearing too early? If you thought "what if," you've come to the right place. 

If you didn’t wish that Bianca Lawson stayed as a permanent cast member on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I’ve already lost you.

Here are a few more that could’ve used a black lead female character: 


1. Sex and the City

HBO
HBO

The quintessential sitcom about women living and loving in the Big Apple!  But let’s be real, we all can't have the Carrie Bradshaw dream. This young white woman had a huge apartment in Manhattan and made money writing a column, but had enough money to brunch like every other episode and drink cosmopolitans? If you're reading this, it's 2017 and gentrification has gifted us nothing but high rent and $15 cosmos (after happy hour, of course). So now, your Carrie Bradshaw dream looks more like Khadijah James. While Carrie's coveted lifestyle isn’t the most realistic, it also would’ve been nice to have a Keisha instead of a Carrie who maybe lived in Bedstuy with a roommate and a dream.

Plot twist: Big would be more like a Morris Chestnut, but unfortunately, just as toxic. 


2. Friends

TV.com
TV.com

As a pop culture and entertainment classic, for black people, this somewhat reminded you of your friend group, but not really. Every character was memorable in their own right. This show went on for 10 whole seasons with little melanin in sight! We grow attached to the romances, breakups and funny interludes that make the show a staple in any binge watching diet. Even as a big fan of Phoebe, I would trade Monica Geller or Phoebe (so every female character except Jennifer Aniston) for someone a little more...black! 


3. Full House

yesmovies.to
yesmovies.to

Growing up, you probably didn't realize what all the fuss was about, but there is a reason this is your white friends' favorite family show. They were a big family in a nice neighborhood, with two funny uncles and a goofy best friend. During the late 80s, there were few black families on television. Other than Family Matters, iconic shows like Moesha or Sister, Sister didn't come along until the mid '90s and early 2000s. Even if there was a black character who lived next door to the Tanners, this would've made an impression. As much as we love Kimmy Gibler, I would trade her for a Nikki any day.


4. Boy Meets World 

IMDB.com
IMDB.com

For context, we aren't talking about when Corey goes to college, when eventually, we do get that female black character. Let's start back when Corey was still trying to figure out how to win over Topanga. As one of the first, female, "weird" and even progressive characters,  we know that Topanga was a little ahead of her time. For young, nerdy/quirky black girls, we needed those kinds of characters that we, thankfully, see a lot more of now. And the reboot "Girl Meets World" could've definitely been saved if we gave a young black actress the chance.


5. Pretty Little Liars

Shinedown
Shinedown

This show has perfected the art of trolling those who decide to tune in. While we were all on the edge of our seat trying to figure out who the heck had enough time to elaborately ruin the main characters' lives, there are so many other questions we had. First, why didn't we keep Maya St. Germain? Bianca Lawson showed us what could've been! An LGBTQ, black female character! This was too good to be true. Once the relationship between Maya and Emily fizzled out, Maya dies. And just like that, another one bites the dust.

But quite frankly, if we had to play "one of these has to go," it would be a tie between Aria and Hanna. Both storylines had potential, but think about either of those storylines with a black female character! Iconic and even a little messy, worthy of think pieces and conversation.


6. Gilmore Girls

Her Campus
Her Campus

OK, let’s get a little creative with this one. So while you grow to love and get annoyed with Lorelai, is it too much of a stretch to say adding an adopted daughter in lieu of Rory is too much to ask? All you need is a little creativity. This adopted daughter, who also happens to be black, could actually be the daughter of a close friend (who is black) and mysteriously disappears. See what I did there! Creativity. Something like that would definitely shake up that little town in Connecticut, and maybe the reboot would’ve been just a little more interesting.


7. Charmed

TVline.com
TVline.com

If you’re into supernatural bad ass women, this show was your second favorite after Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The Halliwell sisters are vanquishing demons and dealing with the throes of sisterhood. And yes, actually that does sound like the life of a black girl. After the death of one of the main characters named Prue, they could’ve easily given us a black female character! Maybe then, someone could’ve talked some sense into Phoebe about dating demons.


8. Sabrina The Teenage Witch 

WetPaint
WetPaint

While we are on the subject of supernatural,  this TV show was the perfect mashup of not-so-serious drama and humor. Sabrina Spellman, her sardonic cat and wacky aunts were perpetual lessons on life, love and family. If any show deserved a reboot with a major twist, it was Sabrina The Teenage Witch. This show could've easily resurfaced with a solid black supporting actress or a new, blacker witch protagonist! At this point, we've pretty much acknowledged that black girls are indeed magic. Overall, the sci-fi scene on major television networks needs more magical, black characters that aren't vampires.


9. Lizzie McGuire

playbuzz.com
playbuzz.com

Disney channel fans, do you remember the glory days? The days when we got excited to watch everything and black girls could see the future (thanks, Raven). Lizzie McGuire was one of those shows that had all the dramatic themes of what being a teenager was like, and to their credit, we did have a little diversity (her friend, Miranda, was a POC and Gordo was Jewish). But as a fan of Hilary Duff, and the show, this series had a huge opportunity to set the pace when it came to casting diverse actors! I mean, at the very least, giving Kate a black BFF would have sufficed.


10. Gossip Girl

playbuzz.com
playbuzz.com

Oh, the drama! As much as you got annoyed at these flagrantly rich bunch of upper east side kids, going to the best preparatory schools and finding their way into the coolest parties, it wasn’t all champagne and macarons. And what’s even more aggravating is that the black character(s) consistently showing up each season were either part of Blair Waldorf’s goon squad, or a storyline that eventually came to an end. Again, a bad and bourgeois black character would've fit the bill.


11. GIRLS

HBO
HBO

So nobody finds it odd that these characters live in Brooklyn, but there are hardly any black people? Let’s start with incorporating more extras with some melanin so that the “borough” they live in actually reflects real life. At this point, it might be a stretch to ask Lena Dunham to write in a black character, but I mean, I wouldn’t have minded a black female character who sarcastically checks Hannah’s white privilege.


Even if we can't dial back time, just as easily as you can put together an article about how our favorite shows can seamlessly champion representation, more directors and writers should be thinking about how sitcoms and popular series will impact their audience. For any black girl who grew up in predominantly white neighborhoods, or was just learning to love herself, seeing how black female characters on screen worked it out in each episode was what we needed, and still do.  


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