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TV Series Review

It’s been dubbed a black Sex and the City, minus the sex. Or an urban Designing Women, minus the laughs. In 2000, UPN launched Girlfriends with very little fanfare. Critics quickly predicted its early demise. But two years later, it has become the little sitcom that could, a remarkable accomplishment that may be due in part to the clout of high-profile producers Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) and Mara Brock Akil (Moesha).

Central to the story are four friends; Joan, Maya, Lynn and Toni. Joan is the smart one. Played by Diana Ross’ daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross, she’s a lawyer and the "mother" of the group. Maya (Golden Brooks) is her sharp-tongued secretary. Perpetual grad student Lynn (Persia White) crusades for social causes such as "safe sex" and feminism. Toni (Jill Marie Jones) is the gold-digger serving time in a real estate job, waiting for a handsome, rich man to snatch her up. Also part of the gang is not-so-girly lawyer friend, William (Reggie Hayes). He’s the hilarious stuffed-shirt foil to the girls’ gossipy craziness.

While the group’s tight-knit friendship can be commended, its morality can’t. Toni has slept with so many men that William nicknames her Toni "Chlamydia" Childs. Joan imposes a rule on herself that she can’t sleep with a guy until she’s dated him for three months, but quickly loses patience, declaring, "I’ve decided to give up my three-month rule; it’s really not much more than an arbitrary way to control a relationship."

Rotten advice flows as freely as the booze, and swoops as low as the girls’ necklines. When Maya feels guilty for having an affair, Joan urges her to keep her husband in the dark. "If you say something you’re just going to be doing it to ease your guilt. It’s not going to do him any good. If you want to make up for cheating on him, just keep it to yourself, don’t put it on him." Likewise, William’s boss chides him for not making more "booty calls," bluntly telling him, "You’re a man, and a man needs sex. When a man doesn’t have sex he’s off his game. . . . I need you sexed up and winning cases."

As for whether or not teens should hang out with these Girlfriends take Solomon’s advice in Proverbs 12:26: "The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray."

Episodes Reviewed: Feb. 25, March 18, May 20, 28, 2002

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Steven Isaac

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