Though 'Girlfriends' Ended 14 Years Ago, Its Prominence Will Live Forever
Incomparable, 'Girlfriends' was necessary during the start of the new millennium and is still relevant now.
February 09, 2022 at 4:27 am
At the start of the new millennium, the unforgettable Black sitcom Girlfriends aired and, with a heavy hand, poured solace and hope into the Black community.
The ‘90s had concluded and Girlfriends would serve as the primary source of beautiful Blackness celebrated — specifically for Black women. That is until the series finale aired on February 11, 2008. And since then, television as we knew it hasn't been the same.
We still remember the classic scenes, like Joan excessively orchestrating rehearsals for the friends in preparation for Christmas caroling. We can’t forget when Lynn dressed up as a miming Tin Man, and when our girl Maya became an author. And we will laugh eternally when we reflect on the short jokes Toni made about her husband, Todd. The sitcom, though filmed in California, resonated with Black women all over because we were represented during an era when Black girl friendship groups, and Black women altogether, weren’t the popular choice. We also got to observe how these Black women approached dating, divorce, family ties, family conflicts and so much more.
The tight-knit group at the center of Girlfriends (with an honorable mention to William) accurately depicted Black women and their diverse personalities and circumstances. They exemplified how not all Black women are the same and don’t fit into the stereotypes placed upon them.
Joan was the high-strung ”mom” friend, more or less. She was responsible and reliable, obsessively tidy, hardworking, a leader and independent. Anytime any of the girls needed somewhere to stay, were encountering financial stumbling blocks, needed a bridesmaid or a shoulder to cry on, they knew who to call. Joan represented the making her own money, at the top of her career, driving the best luxury car kind of Black woman that often gets frowned upon in today’s society. She wasn’t the type to need a man, but she sure as hell wanted one. This is a common ideology for most women, Black women specifically.
Maya, on the other hand, was an actual young mother to a Black boy and wife to a Black man. She was the opinionated friend of the girl group. Her adult life got started early, having her son at 16 years old, yet she still finished college, worked (whether it was as Joan's assistant or as a housewife) and even found a hidden talent in writing her first book. Maya, the “authoress,” showed Black women and the audience of this show how you can have it all. Although she lost her marriage in one season, she was able to redeem it and evolve further as an individual and as a wife in another season. Maya was also known for having a cousin who could hook her up with everything — hair, nails, a ticket, car problems — and we all know, and can appreciate, a sister like that.
Toni was the high-fashion dressing, luxury car driving, single and always trying to land a wealthy man, member of the group. She wanted to live a lavish lifestyle and forbade herself from ever suffering or even coming close to it. Toni was the self-absorbed friend who desired the finer things in life, and never apologized for said desires. In the same breath, she was also the pitbull in your corner when you needed her, and she adopted her girls’ problems as her own.
Lynn was depicted as the lost soul of the group and spent the entire eight seasons of the sitcom trying to find herself only to realize you really can’t. She was easygoing, attempted to keep the peace between the girls when there was havoc, sold books on the side of the road with Maya, highly educated (with several degrees in her portfolio to prove it), but couldn’t land or keep a job. Lynn was also known for being sexually liberated, which the other girls weren’t.
Incomparable, Girlfriends was necessary during the start of the new millennium and is still relevant now. Additionally, the timeless sitcom wasn’t just about four beautiful women of different shades of Black but rather four beautiful Black women who evolved past their beauty and defied the odds. The series unveiled amongst the girls their unity, loyalty and drama. And even though some people look at Black women as “problematic” or “too opinionated,” in Girlfriends Black women were the prize, pursued and adored.
When navigating your late 20s or early 30s, your girlfriends are an essential token on the journey. Sometimes you will laugh together, cry together, break up to make up and, sometimes, not reconcile at all. Either way, Girlfriends demonstrated imperfections in a group that made it that much more perfect and distinctive. In a sense, Girlfriends ran so TV shows like Insecure could fly.