Netflix may be in some hot water for their questionable decision to showcase a movie regarding young girls twerking.
However, they made the right call when adding some of our favorite Black sitcoms from the 90s and early 2000s to their lineup. I’ve been beside myself enjoying Moesha, Sister Sister, Girlfriends (which myself and FlynFluffy recap every Saturday 1:30EST on IG Live) and The Parkers. In fact, I just recently started watching The Parkers which is what led me to write this article.
The Parkers (aired 1999-2004) was a spinoff of Moesha where we first meet Kim Parker. Kim was the sassy, stylish and comical best friend of Moesha. The Parkers show follows Kim and her mother Nikki Parker as they both enroll in college together.
Why Was The Parkers Iconic?
You may argue me on the iconic status of The Parkers, but your arguments are no good here. This sitcom had two plus size actresses in lead roles and the show was centered around them! They weren’t the sidekicks but the main attraction and that was not a thing that was common in media & entertainment at the time. This show was ahead of it’s time in my opinion and was necessary!
What Made Kim’s Character Necessary?
Kim (played by Countess Vaughn) who was originally the side kick on Moesha was portrayed very early on as the “chubby friend.” Consistently on Moesha, Kim’s weight was the butt of many jokes and there was even an episode when she overheard her friends making fun of her weight when they thought she wasn’t listening.
Now, in no way shape or form as an adult do I view Kim Parker’s character as “plus size”; but back then she was in my eyes. She was a teenager who bigger than her friends weight wise and that was something I could relate to. As a teenager, I rarely saw characters that I could relate to because most teenagers were portrayed as slim, and if there was a chubby character; they were the sad, undesirable friend meant to be the comic relief.
While Kim was definitely the comic relief starting out on Moesha; her presence as a stylish girl who was bold and confident at her age was pretty cool to me as a teenager. Kim’s character made it clear that chubby girls could be stylish, pretty, sassy, cheerleaders, get the guy and be themselves unapologetically.
My favorite moment was watching Kim stand up for herself with Moesha & Niecey when she addressed them about her weight.
Why Was Nikki’s Character Necessary?
Nikki Parker was the stereotypical sassy, comedic plus size woman. I wasn’t always a fan of how they had her chasing after the Professor like she was desperate. However, she was bold, confident and stylish as well especially back then when plus size style options were limited.
She was a former teen mom who instead of giving up her dreams, delayed them. We see her finish high school credits in the Moesha episode that was the gateway to the spinoff. The Parkers pickup with Nikki going to college in her 30s. Back then, I couldn’t much relate to her character; but now in my 30s and also being a former teen mom; I have so much appreciation for this story line.
Despite the fact that Nikki was chasing after the professor in a way that makes me cringe; I do appreciate that throughout the course of the show she dated, was the pursued and had a social life. This was such a sharp contrast to the way plus size women were often portrayed (and sometimes still are) in entertainment.
The Show Wasn’t Perfect But it Served a Purpose
Re-watching the show, I definitely feel like there were quite a few plot points I could’ve done without. As I mentioned earlier (a few times) I will say it again; the pursuit of Professor Oglevee was annoying. He constantly ignored her, insulted her, and expressed his disinterest in her (which was within his right to do). I absolutely cringe watching some of these episodes even though I know it was apart of the show dynamic.
I also would’ve liked to see Kim be less dim witted. She had moments where we could clearly see that she could think for herself, she was talented in music and design and had a desire to grow. The “dumb blonde” trope got to be played out after awhile. I would’ve preferred to see her character develop a bit more in that sense.
The Wrap Up
Regardless of whether you hated or loved this show; there’s no ignoring it’s place in the history of Black sitcoms. This show was opening the doors to see more plus size women take on roles in Hollywood. While the entertainment industry has a lot more work to do; we appreciate UPN for being one of the first networks to take the risk. 21 years later we still appreciate it!
Did you used to watch The Parkers? How old were you and what were your thoughts then and now?