The free spirit, the sexpot, the mama bear, and the traditionalist prude. We know this formula. We’ve seen it play out on TV shows that represent women’s friendships, and no matter how much we see it, we’re always inspired to figure out who we are and how we fit into that landscape when it comes to our own friend groups in real life.
More specifically, as Black women, it’s important for us to see reflections of ourselves and the different dynamics we have with our girlfriends on TV. People who are old enough to remember Living Single remember what the friendship dynamic was like between Khadija, Sinclair, Regine, and Max. It’s the show that paved the way for Girlfriends, and eventually Tyler Perry’s Sistas.
Sistas, the number one show on BET, and the highest-rated scripted TV show on cable among African Americans is celebrating its 100th episode and continues the tradition of its predecessors by highlighting the importance of Black women establishing close relationships with one another.
TV is edgier now than it used to be in the 90s and early 2000s, so Sistas’ take on the complications of Black girl friendships turns up the scandal and the drama. In last week’s episode, Danni probably killed a man. It was extreme, but cathartic because he deserved it. Most of us likely would have just rallied the girls, bonnets tied, sneakers on, and vaseline on our faces, to beat that man down. Danni reacted irrationally in a moment of trauma, but her friends still have her back, and we’ll explore the fallout from that in the upcoming episodes.
In another recent episode, we watched Karen tell her mom that Fatima was actually cool after a diplomatic sit-down between the two that was a long time coming. It took Karen a long time to realize how her petty behavior toward Fatima was hindering her personal growth, but also the chance to get to the amazing woman that Andi introduced to the crew.
Bringing new friends into the circle can be complicated. When we first met Karen, she had her crew in Danni, Sabrina and Andi. It was just the four of them, ride or die, but eventually, Andi brought Fatima because she had proven to be loyal in a work situation where she chose to have Andi’s back instead of throwing her under the bus. However, when Karen found out that they had her on again off again ex, Zac in common, she was not happy about Fatima, loyal or not. Fatima nor Zac knew that they had Karen in common but Karen’s jealousy stemmed from watching Zac be the man she always wanted him to be for Karen. Instead of being mature about it, she targeted Fatima and often tried to drag Andi into it. Andi wisely didn’t want to be in the middle of it but that’s how it goes sometimes when you’re dealing with a group of friends.
The discussions that stem from the storylines on Sistas highlight the modern paradigm of our friendships in real life. Throughout the series, each of them has had moments of triumph, self-sabotage, being the backbone of the group, and also being straight-up insufferable (*glares at Andi), but the way they love and support each other impacts their personal lives and work decisions too. Even in the spinoff storyline with Maurice, Sabrina was there for him when he got beat up by a raging homophobe. In moments like this, even though they are fictionalized, we learn how we may have impacted the friends in our lives with certain decisions we’ve made, or how to approach, or not to approach certain situations.
The 100th episode of Sistas is going to have a lot going on. Andi, the one who often needs emotional support due to her questionable love life, will have to use her law expertise to fight for Sabrina, who is still locked up (unfortunately due to her friend’s questionable choices), and her friend Danni who may soon get locked up. Karen is experiencing a high-risk pregnancy and has to take it easy. However, she likely won’t take her doctor’s or mother’s advice to relax and instead take on her friends’ respective dramas. It’s all a mess, but that’s life.
Black women thrive on TV when our characters portray the authenticity of our relationships with one another as multi-dimensional. Every character may not be positive all the time, but when her friends are around to get her back on track she will eventually get her life together and remind herself, and viewers, why Black woman camaraderie matters.
Follow the conversation and join us in celebrating the 100th episode on Twitter by using: #SistasOnBET