What About Martin? : a thorough analysis of the 90's sitcom

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Saffold, Tisia Xiare Vere

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Representations of Blacks have had its limitations on television. The Black sitcom has proven to be a fruitful place of analysis as it relates to the presence of Black bodies and the portrayal of Black culture. The lack of accurate depictions and the portrayal of a diverse Black culture has been a challenge for many years. The Cosby Show (1984-92) however, has been hailed for representations of Blacks as upper class, educated, and portraying a two-parent house hold. With this, an overwhelming amount of scholarly research on Black sitcoms surrounds The Cosby Show. Other shows that have a fair amount of scholarship include Amos and Andy (1951-53-) and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-96). As I am constantly reminded through song lyrics and social networks that my peers are still reflecting about the sitcom Martin, I am also intrigued by its lack of exploration by scholars in the field. As Martin does not portray status and wealth, or educated professionals it is my assumption that this lack of research is reflection of the presumed low significance of the show. There appears to be an obvious divergence between academic and Hollywood's coverage of the show and viewers engagement with the show. 15 years after the show has aired new episodes, many of my peers indulge as if it never left. This paper seeks to further explore the sitcom and its critiques. Through a survey I poll viewers to explore how viewer's opinions can inform future discussions about the show. My exploration of the show through song lyrics, social network posts and survey results will reveal valuable components and complicate discourse of the shows reception, ultimately contributing to the scholarship on Black sitcoms.



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