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August 22, 1993 (1993-08-22) - January 1, 1998 (1998-01-01)
Living Single is an American sitcom television series that aired for five seasons on the Fox network from August 22, 1993 to January 1, 1998. The show centered on the lives of six friends who shared personal and professional experiences while living in a Brooklyn brownstone.
Queen Latifah and Kim Coles both had development deals with Fox. In March 1993, Fox announced that Queen Latifah and Coles would star in a comedy sitcom called My Girls, about roommates in New York City. The character of Khadijah was created for Queen Latifah. The character is an entrepreneur who started a magazine, and Latifah is an entrepreneur who started her own record label. Fox changed the show's name to Living Single three weeks before it first aired.
During Living Singles first season, it consistently had higher ratings than Martin, which aired immediately before it, and it quickly became the fourth highest-rated show aired on Fox.
Throughout its run, Living Single became one of the most popular African-American sitcoms of its era, ranking among the top five in African-American ratings in all five seasons. Newspaper critics contrasted Living Single with Friends, which aired during the same time slot for a while.Living Single had successful Black characters including an attorney, a stockbroker, and a business owner, in contrast to Friends, which featured white characters including a waitress, a folk singer, and an unemployed actor, and no lead characters of color. Show creator Yvette Lee Bowser was disappointed that Warner Bros. did not promote Living Single nearly as much as it did Friends.
The series focused on two different households in one brownstone, one shared by a trio of independent women and another shared by two male friends who have knew each other since they spent their youth together in Cleveland, Ohio. In the first apartment, Khadijah James (Queen Latifah), a hard-working editor and publisher of the fictional urban independent monthly Flavor, lived with her sweet, but naive cousin, Synclaire James (Kim Coles), an aspiring actress who worked as Khadijah's receptionist and had an affinity for Troll dolls, and her childhood friend from East Orange, New Jersey, Regina "Régine" Hunter (Kim Fields), an image-conscious boutique buyer who was in a constant search for a well-to-do man to spend her life with (and spend his money). Later in the series, Régine became a costume assistant for the soap opera Palo Alto. When the show was canceled, she became a wedding planner and left the apartment to move in with her fiancé, Dexter Knight (Don Franklin). Maxine "Max" Shaw (Erika Alexander), a sharp-tongued attorney and Khadijah's best friend from their college days at Howard University, frequently stopped by to share her unique insights, her day, make sure that the girls' refrigerator isn't overstocked, and start trouble with Kyle, looking for any chance to make his life worse.
Kyle Barker (T.C. Carson) lived in the second apartment with Overton Wakefield Jones (John Henton). Kyle was a stockbroker whose constant verbal sparring with Max did little to mask their obvious sexual attraction. Overton was the friendly, but country, maintenance man for the owner of their (and neighboring) building who held deep affection for Synclaire and plenty of hilarious homespun wisdom for everyone else.
Kyle and Max ended up pursuing a sexual relationship, but when he decided to take a job in London and invited Max to join him, she turned him down. Maxine subsequently became distraught over her decision and, after defending a man who claims to be the second coming of Jesus (Harold Perrineau), she began to seriously look for the purpose of her life. Through a series of events, Max decided that her purpose must be to become a mother and during the insemination process unknowingly picked Kyle's sperm specimen based on a list of qualities she would like for her child to have. Kyle returned in the series finale and the two reconciled. Overton and Synclaire also got together and their relationship culminated in marriage by the end of the fourth season. In season five, they moved in together, leaving Overton and Kyle's apartment open for new character Roni DeSantos (Idalis DeLeon), a New York-area D.J., to move in. It was eventually revealed that DeSantos had a fling with Ira Lee "Tripp" Williams III, (Mel Jackson), a songwriter who Khadijah and Régine who moved in when Synclaire's room became available. Synclaire joined a comedy improv troupe where she gained the attention of Tony Jonas, a Warner Bros. television exec who cast her as a nun for a new comedy series he was developing.
Along with trying to make Flavor a success, Khadijah also spent time looking for Mr. Right. She eventually found him in childhood friend Scooter (Cress Williams) with whom she left the brownstone for the final time in the series finale.
Cast and characters
Queen Latifah - Khadijah James, editor and publisher of Flavor Magazine, an independent magazine devoted to the interests of the urban community.
Kim Coles - Synclaire James-Jones, Khadijah's good-natured cousin and roommate; receptionist at Flavor and aspiring actress. The role of Synclaire was originally intended for Queen Latifah's long-time friend and collaborator, Monie Love, but she was unable to take the part.
In May 1997, Fox announced that it had ordered 13 episodes of the fifth season of Living Single but that the episodes would be delayed until January 1998. Three months later, Fox made a change to its fall schedule, delayed the airing of a new comedy called Rewind, and decided to air Living Singles fifth season on September 11. The final episode of the fifth season aired on January 1, 1998. Fox decided to cancel the show afterwards.
Half & Half: Erika Alexander and T.C. Carson reprised their roles of Maxine Shaw and Kyle Barker on the UPN sitcom, Half & Half (a series produced by Living Single creator Yvette Lee Bowser). In the episode ("The Big Performance Anxiety Episode", third season), ambitious law student Dee Dee learns that her mother's co-star in a play is engaged to Maxine, Dee Dee's idol. However, her mother gets Maxine's beau, Kyle, fired because she fears he will take attention away from her. The episode also revealed that Maxine and Kyle remained a couple and were the proud parents of their seven-year-old daughter named Kyla.
The Crew: In one episode "The Mating Season" of the short-lived Fox sitcom The Crew, Regine becomes a passenger on a flight and argues with a sassy stewardess in hopes of upgrading to first class. On another episode, "The Worst Noel", Synclaire also becomes a passenger. The episode served as a bridge for The Crew and its lead-in show, Living Single.
Living Single started reruns in syndication on September 22, 1997 through various Fox UPN and WB affiliates; in terms of UPN and WB, these were later CW affiliates. Syndication carriage on the local level fizzled out in 2006. Reruns of the series currently run daily on cable networks TV One, MTV2, and Bounce TV and VH1. As of January 11, 2018, all episodes began streaming on Hulu.
An hour-long retrospective special, Living Single: The Reunion Show, aired on TV One on September 22, 2008. Coles, Henton, Fields, Carson and Alexander reunited to share fond memories with the fans. Queen Latifah and Mel Jackson were unavailable to participate. The special featured clips and revealing secrets of the cast from the show's five-year run.
From August 24 to 26, 2018, TV One aired a weekend marathon of "Living Single" to highlight the 25th anniversary of the show. Coles, Henton, Fields, and Carson reunited once again to share memories with the fans, to share their thoughts on the characters they portrayed, and provided a tribute to Rita Owens (Queen Latifah's real-life and TV mother), who had passed in early 2018. Queen Latifah, Erika Alexander and Mel Jackson were unavailable to participate.
Yvette Lee Bowser, show creator's, initial goal was to create a show about her and her friends that changed the portrayal of young Black people on television. Her overall goal was to portray Black characters in a positive and less stereotypical light. She also noted that the women represented on Living Single are four different sides of her, saying in an interview that "I've been as ditsy as Synclaire, as superficial as Regine, as bitter as Max and as focused and driven as Khadijah." 
Living Single never remained one of the highest-rated program among audiences during its run from 1993 to 1998. The show had struggled to break into lists of top television programs that were viewed by larger audiences and never broke into the Top 50, though it was a higher performer for FOX. Those who loved and watched the show regularly have told show creator, Yvette Lee Bowser that they connect with the characters of the show, love the cast, and are inspired by the positive, elegant, and professional portrayal of Black people on television. Bowser noting that, "People say our characters remind them of themselves, their friends or their relatives. They all know someone like one of the characters."