Last weekend, Twitter was ablaze with talk of the 30th anniversary of the premier of the iconic A Different World. Fans watched and live-tweeted their favorite episodes while reminising about the impact the show had on a generation of TV viewers. The show produced many stars including Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison, and Jade Pinkett-Smith. Another A Different World alum is writer and producer Yvette Lee Bowser. After A Different World, Bower went on to executive produce another classic black sitcom that also recently celebrated a milestone anniversary.
On September 23, 2002, Half & Half premiered on the now defunct UPN. The series focuses on a pair of half-sisters who are attempting to build a relationship while living in the apartment building owned by their father. The series stars the ageless Rachel True as Mona, the older, more level-headed sister and Essence Atkins as Dee Dee, the younger, more sheltered
spoiled sister. The cast also includes the mothers, portrayed by television legends Telma Hopkins and Valerie Pettiford as Phyllis and Big Dee Dee and Obba Babtunde as Charles Thorne, Mona and Dee Dee’s father. Chico Benymon and Alec Mapa round out the cast as Spencer, Mona’s best friend/coworker and Adam, her assistant.
Half & Half was my everything. My 22-year-old self LOVED the dynamic between the sisters. And as a twenty-something, recent college graduate, I found myself drawn to the show. I tuned in to experience the sisters’ journey of discovery as they tried to navigate their careers and dating while balancing family/daughter/sister duties. I could relate. My Monday nights were all about Girlfriends and Half & Half. But whereas Girlfriends was where I wanted to be, Half & Half was my reality.
While I loved all of the characters on the show, Mona Thorne was my favorite. She was an OG Awkward Black Girl. Her eclectic taste in music, her boho fashion sense, and her hilarious relationship with her mother reflected my life at the time (sidenote: I am still convinced that Phyllis Thorne is based on #MyMomBarb). Mona helped me embrace my quirky and awkward self. Mona was also a natural hair, curly girl icon for me. Her curls were ALWAYS popping! I didn’t realize it at the time, but seeing Mona’s natural hair helped me embraced my own. She represented a different kind of black girl magic. The kind my younger self desperately needed to see.
At it’s peak, Half & Half was the fourth highest rated on UPN. However, when UPN transitioned to The CW, the show was axed before the start of the 2006 season. The untimely demise of Half & Half left a hole in my Monday nights and my soul. For over a decade I have wondered “Who did Mona choose..Chase or Lorenzo?” But alas, that question will remain one of televisions great unanswered questions.
You can catch reruns of Half & Half on BounceTV. Fifteen years after it’s birth, it remains one of my faves.