When we think of classic TV shows that portray loving black families, we think of programs like The Cosby Show, Family Matters and wholesome, hilarious new-age favorite Black-ish. Each show portrays hard-working, successful black parents leading multiple-sibling households, slaying work-life balance and navigating life’s trials and tribulations from the family’s perspective.
Marlon Wayans’ new NBC show Marlon – loosely based on his real life where he is raising his two children with his longtime now ex-girlfriend – creates an alternate storyline for a real-world scenario. The family in the show represents the 54 percent of kids under 18 who do not live in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage. For the majority, alternate family arrangements are increasingly the norms and in a stereotype-debunking sitcom portraying a loving, black family navigating parenting after divorce, Wayans and his co-star Essence Atkins, who portrays his ex-wife Ashley, are the new role models for co-parenting.
“Men don’t know what they’re missing,” Wayans told ESSENCE. “The best moments of my life have been my children. Somebody gave me those children. So their mother is a gift. They are my family – not just the kids, no. That is my family.”
Adding, “There is no trapping. You’re an adult. You have to take care of yours. You have a child, (then) you take care of it.”
The series kicked-off with a two-episode opening in which Wayans shows off his slapstick, true-to-self form of comedy trying to break up Ashley’s date night with a handsome suitor, Boris Kodjoe. Marlon also coming to terms with his hoarding of personal items tied to his marriage with Ashley, signaling he hasn’t let go. Perhaps the series’ two main characters evoke a feeling of nostalgia, but the show feels like a cross between Sister, Sister – a quirky sitcom that showcased over-the-top parents, also non-traditional – and Family Matters – a show where the lovable next-door neighbor won’t go away.
In both series, the standout characters’ lovable and eccentrically funny personalities are what viewers loved about the show. Marlon is created in that essence, with a throwback 90’s sitcom feel.
Since the show is based off of Wayans’ real-life parenting arrangement, he offers these pieces of advice for other families who may be navigating the world of rearing children together, connected for life, after a breakup or divorce.
“Communicate,” he said. “We don’t need to argue. [We’re] always talking at each other, but that is learned behavior. We as adults have the choice to change the history and the future of [our] generations by making choices today.”
The next episode touches on the importance of a positive male role model as his daughter, all grown up, navigates her first crush. There are four more 30-minute episodes in the Marlon pilot, with two scheduled to air on Wednesday, August 23 and Wednesday, August 30, respectively, at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBC.