Thursday, August 29, 2013

Living Single Turns Twenty: Eleven Life Lessons Learned

By Erin E. Evans

The four women of Living Single (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

(The Root) -- Before the ladies of Sex and the City pounded the New York City pavement in their stilettos and before our new-millennium Girlfriends were taking over Los Angeles, we tuned in to our girls Khadijah (Queen Latifah), Synclaire (Kim Coles), Max (Erika Alexander), Regine (Kim Fields) -- and the guys, Kyle (Terrence Carson) and Overton (John Henton) -- of Living Single in the mid-'90s.


Black women everywhere could relate to each character: Khadijah's I'm-a-boss attitude, Synclaire's flighty but endearing personality, husband-hungry Regine's sometime-y superficiality and Max's quick-witted humor. (Man, could Maxine Shaw, attorney at law, work a suit, or what?)

Believe it or not, it's been 20 years since we were first introduced to our favorite Brooklyn home girls. Through all their triumphs and trials of dating, career moves and New York City experiences, we couldn't help but learn a bit from the cast.

1. Being your own boss pays off.

Khadijah (Queen Latifah) and Marcus Hughes (Kadeem Hardison) (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Marcus Hughes (Kadeem Hardison), a reporter for the Village Voice, is in a race with Khadijah for a breaking news story about a boxing promoter who is fixing fights. While they both get the story, Khadijah is able to flex her muscle as the editor-in-chief of her own magazine and push the issue to press a day before the Village Voice article goes to print.

2. Beware! There's always that one man (or 12) at the club.

Max (Erika Alexander) and Goldie (Miguel Nunez Jr.) at the club (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Tired of staying in the house on the weekends, Regine convinces the girls to go out to the club. While Regine hunts down all the women in the party wearing the same outfit as hers, Khadijah flirts with the DJ, and Overton and Synclaire hit the dance floor with four left feet between them. But it's Max who has the least luck. She meets the gold-toothed, S-curl wearing, 40-oz.-drinking Goldie, and he stalks her all night. Addendum: Always have a fake name a la Shaquan at the ready.

3. Be careful about crushing on your interviewees.

Grant Hill (playing himself) and Khadijah (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Khadijah works with several celebrities for cover stories for Flavor magazine. Remember when Grant Hill falls head-over-heels in love with her? ("Khadijah, I think I need ya … Khadijaaah.") She also falls for a few other interviewees, including Alonzo, who is selected as teacher of the year and whom she dates for several episodes. Then there's the employee who threatens to sue her for sexual harassment after she fires him.

4. "Mama got to have a life, too."

Regine's mother, Laverne (Chip Fields) and Regine (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

While at dinner with her mother, Laverne, Regine gets pushed to the side as millionaire businessman Hamilton tries to push up on Laverne. Hamilton and Laverne spend a whirlwind two weeks together, and Regine gets more and more jealous.

5. Don't let someone tell you how to wear your hair.

Kyle Barker (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Kyle is a stockbroker at a prestigious firm in the city. He wants to take over a project -- establishing a mutual fund in Africa for the firm -- but his efforts are met with a bit of resistance, especially from his black co-worker. The co-worker doesn't think Kyle's dreds present a "corporate image." But after trying on several hideous wigs, Kyle remembers the importance of staying true to his heritage and to himself.

6. At any age, Eartha Kitt will always be fly.

Eartha Kitt (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

In a nod to her role on Boomerang, Eartha Kitt plays Jacqueline Richards, a new client at Kyle's firm, who is coming on a bit too strong for Kyle's liking.

7. It's hard to be a vegetarian at a barbecue.

Regine and Max (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

After watching a documentary on the meat industry in America, Regine decides to become a vegetarian and stocks the fridge with tofu and veggies. To break her out of her health kick, the gang plans an all-meat barbecue with beef, chicken and sides of pork.

8. There's nothing like a mother’s love.

Khadijah with her mother, Rita (Rita Owens) (Warner Bros. Entertainment

Queen Latifah's and Kim Fields' real mothers portrayed their moms on Living Single, and we can't imagine any one else filling those shoes. And although Max's mom wasn't played by her real mother, C.C.H. Pounder was an excellent choice. (Pounder played Erika Alexander's mom in 1990's Common Ground.)

9. Don't go snooping in your boyfriend's apartment.

Scooter (Cress Williams) and Khadijah (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

When Khadijah stops by Scooter's (Cress Williams) apartment to pick up something for a costume party, she finds herself snooping through his things. She discovers a woman's necklace, some perfume and a fax message about a future meeting. (Yeah, no unlocking cell phones and reading text messages in 1995!) Khadijah confronts Scooter, and she finds out that the necklace was a surprise for her, the perfume is a new product that his singing group will be promoting and the meeting is about an upcoming tour.

10. Your next-door neighbor might turn out to be the love of your life.

Synclaire and Overton (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

How can you not love Overton and Synclaire together? They both seem to rock to their own beat. His country, handyman ways jibe with her happy-go-lucky personality. After nearly a whole season of awkward courtship, they finally get together and start a relationship that lasts throughout the series.

11. Your worst enemy might turn out to be the love of your life.

Max and Kyle (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Max and Kyle have an endless supply of snappy one-liners for each other. But everything changes after Max gets fired and the two enemies share a few drinks. Max and Kyle wake up in each other's arms underneath a Kente cloth blanket, and things are forever changed. He sings "My Funny Valentine" to her at a local club, they have a rendezvous at a fancy hotel in the city and date several people in between. But after a fluke at a sperm clinic, the two are once again linked in the series finale when Max finds out she is pregnant with Kyle's baby.

Erin E. Evans is a writer and editor in Brooklyn, N.Y. Follow her on Twitter.