Since I've been home on bed rest, I've had my share of old sitcoms. A few days ago, I saw an episode of "A Different World" that really made me recognize how far we have come. The episode, "Almost Working Girl", which aired during the show's fifth season in 1991, illustrates the attitude about natural hair back then.
When E.H. Wright needs a temporary receptionist, Freddie (played by Shero Cree Summer) is begrudgingly given the job by Jaleesa... but not after she chases Freddie around the room with a brush. For the remainder of the episode, Cree's trademark ringlets are replaced with a blow-out that resembles Farrah Fawcett's do'.
What made me raise an eyebrow is that in the episode, Ron Johnson observes Freddie (with her straightened locks) from behind and is instantly attracted to her. When Freddie reveals herself and leaves, Ron says as she exits, "Oooh.. what a little Dark and Lovely will do for a sistah!". In reflecting on the episodes of the show, Freddie's curls were repeatedly the butt of jokes, and her character was told on more than one occasion that she needed to "do something" about her unruly tresses. The irony is that despite the mockery, many naturals of my generation (I of course include myself in this) will say that it was Cree's curls that inspired them to go natural.
Fast forward to last night's episode of the new BET series "Reed Between the Lines", starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Malcolm Jamal Warner.
In the episode, teenage daughter Kaci (played by the cute as a button Zoe Soul), after landing the roll in the school play is asked to flat iron her hair for the part. She complies and is very vocal about the fact that she finds the act insulting and unnecessary... until the boy she's crushing on takes notice. Like Ron & Freddie, he suddenly is liking what he sees.
Kaci is suddenly not so in a hurry to bring back her curls, and when her Carla (Tracee Ellis Ross' character) approaches her about changing herself to please a boy, she stumbles across Kaci applying vaseline to her face in preparation for a relaxer.
I won't spoil the ending for those who missed it, but I will say that Tracee took us all to church, and I was fanning myself with an afro pick at the conclusion!!!! LOL
I'm grateful for "Reed...", not only for the episode itself, which was huge, but for creating characters with "Of course I wear my hair natural!!!!" attitudes, instead of some of the "My hair is natural.. .ain't that wacky?!?!" characters we've encountered in the past.
Did you catch last night's episode? What were your thoughts? Leave a comment and let's talk!