Girlfriends and Moesha


Girlfriends (2000-    )
Moesha (1996–2001)
Type: Crossover
Group 30

   You know, usually a crossover between two sitcoms would be an easy thing to sum up. And the crossovers in question here are pretty straight forward too. The problem is I like to start with a quick summary of each series. In this case both of the sitcoms in questions have plots so complicated enough to rival soap operas. No simple, "Four old ladies share a house in Miami," summary for these. Oooooh no. These shows changed and evolved their basic plots seemingly minute to minute.

   Lets start with Moesha. It started off as a starring vehicle for teenage singing sensation Brandy. Brandy played Moesha, the daughter in a fairly straight forward sitcom black family. Frank was the dad, Dee was her stepmother, Myles was the little brother. They were a middle class black family living in L.A. Typical teen girl sitcom ala Blossom only aimed at a black audience.

   Then things get very soapy. Moesha and her friends hooking up, breaking up, family squabbles with Moesha moving out, reconciling...

   One of these developments was the arrival of Dorian, Moesha's cousin. He was the bad kid who came to live with Moesha's family so that, hopefully, they could help straighten him out. Now, on any other show, that's the desperation move. Bringing in a distantly related kid as a new member of the family? Hello? Cousine Oliver on The Brady Bunch? Seven of Married... With Children? Whatever that kid's name was on Who's The Boss? But Moesha was already a show always in motion with a touch of soap so it didn't seem like a totally desperate move. But then things went waaay soapy for Dorian. See, it turned out back when Moesha's dad Frank had been on the outs with Mo's mom he had had an affair and fathered Dorian! Then Frank's sister adopted Dorian! So Dorian was actually Moesha's half brother! As I recall at the time this caused a bit of a media dust up. Again, Moesha started as a black family sitcom for the whole family. Then they went and made Frank a cheating husband who abandoned his kid??? Some felt they had taken a solid black father figure and mucked him up. But that is yet ANOTHER soap opera and off the point.

   Once Dorian discovered the truth, he of course wanted to find his birth mother. He and Moesha tracked her down leading to the crossover episode. Having found his mom, Barbara Lee, Dorian went over to spend time with her. While he was visiting, Barbara Lee ran into a minor problem. She and her husband had plans to go out for the night. Her sister Maya was supposed to look after Barbara Lee's two other kids. Only the kid's were such terrors that Maya had had enough and brought them home. Dorian jumped at the chance to babysit and get to know his brother and sister. He used the same discipline with the kids that Frank used with him. When Barbara Lee returned home he discovered she actually didn't use much discipline with her kids and scoffed that Dorian would, saying he was just like his dad. It was a wakeup call for Dorian. He suddenly saw that being disciplined wasn't a bad thing, that his dad – who he still called uncle – was doing right by him. He decided to keep in contact with his real mom but the situation pushed him closer to Frank who by the end of the episode he actually called dad.

   So where was the crossover in all this family drama? Maya. Barbara Lee's sister Maya was also one of the principal characters on Girlfriends. The night she appeared on Moesha, a cast member of Moesha also dropped in on Girlfriends.

   Also set in L.A., Girlfriends is a sitcom that is what Sex And The City promotes itself to be: a sitcom about four women who talk like women talk and have the problems women have. In this case four black women. Don't get me wrong, I think Sex And The City is a good show. I just thinks it's a little, ahem, broader and sillier. The characters on Girlfriends just feel more real to me. Here's the difference. When I watch Sex And The City, I feel like I just feel like I'm watching a well done edgy sitcom. When I watch Girlfriends, I get that awkward feeling a guy gets when he's the only man in the room with a bunch of women who are all friends. Just that awkward out-of-my-element feeling. I mean that as a compliment. The show makes me feel like I am with four real women and that I shouldn't be hearing what I'm hearing. Sex And The City doesn't do that to me.

   Anyway, the women on Girlfriends built their own massive soap opera-ish storyline. Luckily, this crossover happened early on before things got too involved, saving me much hassle in summing up. Joan Clayton was the down to earth center of the show. She was an attorney looking for love. Maya Wilkes – who appeared on Moesha – was her snarky edgy assistant. Toni Childs was Joan's looking-out-for-number-one friend. Lynn Searcy was Joan's friend from college and roomie.

   The episode in question had two plots, one focusing on Maya and one on Joan. Maya's plot doesn't touch on the crossover but given her part on Moesha, it is interesting to mention. Maya's plot was all about the fact that she and her husband wanted a baby but she couldn't get pregnant. They got her husband checked out and then discovered the problem was with Maya's "business". Here's the weird though. On Moesha, Maya's whole role was that of the Aunt who was sick to death of her niece and nephew and couldn't wait to get the kids out of her hair. She acted like she'd prefer never to see another kid in her lifetime. Then two seconds later she's on screen on Girlfriends wanting to have a baby??? Kind of weird.

   Joan's plot wasn't about babies but rather how ya make ‘em. Joan was dating a former sex addict. She had a rule of not sleeping with a guy for the first three months she dated him but decided to break her own rule. Then she became scared of having to compete with all the other women her boyfriend had slept with. Having gotten past that obstacle she hit a bigger problem: her man didn't satisfy her in bed. He was so about just banging away that he didn't engage with her, he didn't at all make love to her. That meant she had an even bigger problem: how to tell her boyfriend he was bad in bed and teach him to be better without crushing his ego. At one point in the show she went to dinner with the show's resident male character William to try and get a man's input on how to go about it. As they talk they are constantly interrupted by a girl at the next table. First she wants to borrow ketchup, then mustard. Then, having overheard the conversation she tries to offer her own advice. She and Joan fight back and forth. First Joan resents this stranger wanting to give advice. Then wants she calms down she decides she does want the advice. Only by then the girl at the next table is all, "Oh so NOW you want my advice!" The extra joke is that "the girl at the next table" is Moesha's best friend Niecy Jackson.

   In the end, Joan tells her man the truth and he agrees to be "taught".

   This is an odd pair of crossovers though. Even though Moesha had a soap opera tocuh to it, it was still kind of a family sitcom. They make a big play in the Moesha episode about Moesha's dad visiting her at college and being shocked and appalled that one of Moesha's roomies had a man stay overnight and that another roomie spent the night out drinking. Then you go over to Girlfriends and it's waaay adult. If Frank was shocked by Moesha's friends, the Girlfriends would have killed him. Sex addicts, talk of needing wham in addition to bam, some Karma Sutra jokes. The episode ends with Joan and her man standing with the camera cutting them off above the waist as, below the waist, Joan shows her man how to, um, handle her business. For some families tuning in to see Niecy, the content might have been a bit surprising.

Other Moesha Crossover Links
Moesha and Clueless
Moesha and The Parkers

Click here to return to main Crossover List

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