I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Monday, October 24, 2005

"Girlfriends" (2000-2008)

An African-American version of "Sex In The City", but with more of a vibe. Joan Clayton (Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of former Supremes member Diana Ross) began the series as a lawyer in a high-powered firm alongside friend William Dent (Reggie Hayes). Maya Wilkes (Golden Brooks) was her assistant during the first couple of seasons. Toni Childs (Jill Marie Jones) is Joan's self-absorbed best friend, and Lynn Searcy (Persia White), a career grad school student who flits from one thing to another. During the first season, viewers were treated to Joan's inner dialogue, a plot device which gratefully, was dropped.

Of the four women, only girl-from-the-'hood Maya was happily married to Darnell (first played by Flex Alexander, and later by Khalil Kane). Joan was constantly angling to be married, and suffered through a succession of boyfriends. One turned out to be a sex addict, one was an actor who carried the baggage of an ex-girlfriend with a baby. The closest she came to marriage was with an Hollywood agent (Malik Yoba, of "New York Undercover"), but all was dashed when he told her he wished to remain childfree. She then embarked on a relationship with long-time friend William, but it appears they weren't meant to be soul mates after all.

Sharon Upton Farley (Anne-Marie Johnson of "In Living Color"), a bitchy woman who joined the firm as a partner, gave Joan hell on her job for a minute. This development caused William to quit, because he felt he should have been promoted. William eventually came back and was made partner. Joan on the other hand, grew tired of the law game, and left the firm to open a restaurant, with financial help from William.

William, who is somewhat of a geek, came close to wedding bells too, when he proposed to Yvonne Blackwell (Cee Cee Michaels), a policewoman. However, she felt that "Big Willie" was trying to change her into something she was not, and she left him at the altar. He rebounded and dated Monica Charles Brooks (Keesha Sharp), a hateful wench who pushed William to climb the career ladder even higher. Toni, Joan, Maya, and Lynn couldn't stand her, and the feeling was mutual. William ended up married to Monica, but the marriage was shaky.

Maya's marriage to blue collar Darnell fell apart when she entered into an emotional--but not sexual--relationship with Stan Wright (Don Franklin, who by the way, is a buddy of mine from high school). Darnell overheard a voice mail message which busted his wife, and kicked her out of the house. They divorced, which had a negative effect on their son Jabari (Tanner Scott Richards). Darnell was engaged to marry someone else, when he admitted he still loved Maya. They remarried in Vegas and rekindled their love.

Lynn, the wild child and champion moocher, went through a string of men including a celibate spoken word artist, and a Jamaican. Lynn finally found her birth parents, a manic depressive and a working man (played by Demond Wilson of "Sanford and Son"). She was floored by the news that her mother's parents paid her father to go away because they disapproved of the fact that he was a man of color (Lynn's birth mom is white). Her adoptive parents, tired of supporting her through her various adventures, forced her to pay back the money they paid for her numerous grad school degrees. She ended up getting a job in an office, which she hated with a passion. Didn't last long before she was out. Lynn became the landlord of the building where Darnell and Maya reside.

Toni began the series dating hot but poor artist Greg Sparks (Chuma Hunter-Gault), but she accepted a sudden proposal from a doctor (Greg Morris). Joan let it slip to Greg that Toni was engaged, and she ended up losing both men. It caused a serious rift in her and Joan's friendship--at one point, Toni slapped the hell out of Joan, and had to be pulled off of her. Realizing that she did need help in cleaning up her messes, Toni tried church, and then saw a psychiatrist, whom she proceeding to drive crazy. She also opened her own real estate firm, with William as her attorney. After a Botox injection went wrong, Toni saw plastic surgeon, a Jewish guy named Todd Garrett (Jason Pace), who quickly fell in love with her. They got married, but Toni's selfish, gold digging ways put a strain on the couple. They separated, then Toni discovered she was pregnant. Throughout the pregnancy, Toni and Todd struggled to make their marriage work. Unfortunately, after their daughter was born, the couple decided to call it quits.

As with all sitcoms after a few years, "Girlfriends" showed its age. I would have liked to see more of Lynn navigating the relationship with her birth father, her half-brother, and her birth father's shrewish wife. Joan's revolving boyfriends and her constant whining about being over thirty and unmarried was getting tired. The sitcom "jumped the shark" when Toni broke off her friendship with Joan and moved to NYC (Jill Marie Jones had left the show due to a contract dispute).  There was an attempt to fit the Monica character in with the other women, but Monica remained too abrasive for that to happen.

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