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Moesha (//) is an American television sitcom that aired on UPN from January 23, 1996, to May 14, 2001. The series stars R&B singer Brandy Norwood as Moesha Denise Mitchell, a high school student living with her family in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. It was originally ordered as a pilot for CBS' 1995–1996 television season but was declined by the network. It was then later picked up by UPN, which aired it as a mid-season replacement. It went on to become the biggest success for the nascent network and one of the greatest hits over the course of the network's entire run. The series was a joint production for UPN by Regan Jon Productions, Saradipity Productions, and Jump at the Sun Productions in association with Big Ticket Television.
|Created by||Ralph Farquhar|
Sara V. Finney
|Theme music composer||Kurt Farquhar|
|Opening theme||"Gotta Move" performed by Brandy|
|Ending theme||"Gotta Move" (Instrumental)|
|Composers||Kurt Farquhar, Mark Mothersbaugh (season 1-2)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||127 (list of episodes)|
|Production locations||ABC Television Center Hollywood (season 1)|
Paramount Studios (season 3)
Sunset Gower Studios (seasons 2, 4–6)
|Running time||21–24 minutes|
|Production companies||Regan Jon Productions|
Jump at the Sun Productions
Big Ticket Television
|Distributor||Worldvision Enterprises (1996-1999)|
Paramount Domestic Television (1999-2006)
CBS Paramount Domestic Television (2006-2007)
CBS Television Distribution (2007-2021)
CBS Media Ventures (2021-present)
|Original release||January 23, 1996 –|
May 14, 2001
|Related shows||The Parkers|
The show focused on the life of an upper-middle-class Black family through the eyes of a typical girl named Moesha. Her father Frank, a widower and Saturn car salesman (and later owner of his own dealership, Brothers Saturn), has married Dee, the vice principal at Moesha's high school, much to Moesha's disapproval. The series was created by Ralph Farquhar, along with the writing team of Sara V. Finney and Vida Spears. The settings for the show include the Mitchell household, the teen hangout, The Den, and in some cases, Crenshaw High School, the school attended by Moesha, Kim, Niecy, and Hakeem. The sitcom was set in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Brandy has been teasing a Moesha reboot, but this is unlikely.
The show dealt with real social issues affecting teenagers, such as premarital sex, the death of a parent, teen pregnancy, drug use, race relations, sexuality, dementia, and day-to-day issues teenagers faced at home and school such as gender prejudice and inequality. In one of the most controversial episodes, "Secrets and Lies" (aired February 7, 2000), the Mitchell family learned from Aunt Hattie that Frank is the biological father of Dorian, whom the Mitchells and Dorian himself believed to be Frank's nephew. The shocking news of Frank's infidelity during his first marriage turned the family upside-down and resulted in Dorian's rebellion and Moesha moving out of the family home.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||14||January 23, 1996||May 21, 1996|
|2||24||August 27, 1996||May 20, 1997|
|3||23||August 26, 1997||May 19, 1998|
|4||22||October 6, 1998||May 25, 1999|
|5||22||August 23, 1999||May 22, 2000|
|6||22||September 4, 2000||May 14, 2001|
Cast and charactersEdit
|Brandy Norwood||Moesha Denise "Mo" Mitchell||Main|
|William Allen Young||Franklin "Frank" Mitchell||Main|
|Countess Vaughn||Kimberly Ann "Kim" Parker||Main||Archive Footage|
|Marcus T. Paulk||Myles Mitchell||Main|
|Lamont Bentley||Hakeem Campbell||Main|
|Yvette Wilson||Andalusia Louise "Andell" Wilkerson||Main||Does not appear|
|Sheryl Lee Ralph||Deidra "Dee" Mitchell (née Moss)||Main||Recurring|
|Shar Jackson||Denise "Niecy" Jackson||Recurring||Main|
|Fredro Starr||Quinton "Q" Brooks||Does not appear||Main||Guest||Recurring|
|Ray J||Dorian Long||Does not appear||Main|
- Moesha Denise "Mo" Mitchell (played by Brandy Norwood) – Like many teenagers, Moesha is trying to find her place in life. At every turn, Moesha, along with her friends and family, experiences new challenges and hilarious situations associated with the pressures and demands of growing up in an often confusing world. Moesha is headstrong, independent, and at times stubborn, but stands up for what she believes is right. Sometimes she could be rebellious to her father and step mother. Through the first five seasons, Moesha would open the show speaking in her thoughts into her "diary". Moesha is 15–16 in season 1, 16 in season 2, 16–17 in season 3, 17–18 in season 4, 18–19 in season 5, and 19–20 in season 6.
- Franklin "Frank" Mitchell (played by William Allen Young) – A Saturn car dealer and father to Moesha and Myles. Originally thought to be Dorian's uncle, he is later revealed to be the young man's father. Frank is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He is a graduate of Southern University and A&M College. Frank and Dee are strict disciplinarians to their children.
- Deirdre "Dee" Mitchell (played by Sheryl Lee Ralph) (seasons 1–5, recurring in season 6) – A high school principal attempting to balance her career with two additional roles as wife to Frank and stepmother to Moesha and Myles. Dee is also a strict disclipinarian to the kids. She is originally from Jamaica and would speak in a thick Jamaican accent when talking about her childhood or when angered. It is implied that Dee is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority due to a quote in the episode "Niece" in which Moesha says that she wouldn't be persuaded by Dee with Delta picnics. Ralph left her role as a main cast member following season 5. She did not appreciate the storyline in which the family discovered that Frank was Dorian's real father.
- Kimberly Ann "Kim" Parker (played by Countess Vaughn) (seasons 1–4) – Moesha's boy-crazy best friend who has a crush on Hakeem during the first two seasons, but later dates Michael. She leaves the show after the fourth season to star in her own spin-off series The Parkers with Mo'Nique, who played her mother, Nikki Parker. She and Nikki graduate from Crenshaw High School in 1999 and go on to study at Santa Monica College. Kim originally planned to go to the Fashion Institute of Leimert, but ended up going to SMC after the former shut down suddenly toward the end of her senior year of high school.
- Myles Mitchell (played by Marcus T. Paulk) — Moesha's pesky younger brother. Early in the series, he is known mostly for playing practical jokes on his sister and her friends. Throughout the series, he progresses from 3rd grade to 8th grade.
- Hakeem Campbell (played by Lamont Bentley) — A frequent visitor to the Mitchell household, he is Moesha's lifelong friend and neighbor, and later her boyfriend. In the spin-off The Parkers, it was revealed that he and Moesha were no longer in a relationship. He dated Kim's best friend Stevie Van Lowe (played by Jenna von Oÿ).
- Andalusia Louise "Andell" Wilkerson (played by Yvette Wilson) (seasons 1–5) — Moesha's adult friend and owner of the neighborhood hangout The Den. During season 5 she sells her establishment to a local funeral director. Andell is featured on the spin-off show The Parkers, where she owns a self-named restaurant and bar.
- Niecy Jackson (played by Shar Jackson) (seasons 2–6, recurring in season 1) — Moesha's best friend and later her roommate. She has four brothers and four sisters whom she has to care for during high school, so she does not find time to work during high school like her friends Hakeem and Moesha.
- Quinton "Q" Brooks (played by Fredro Starr) (seasons 2–3, recurring seasons 4–6) — Moesha's longest-running love interest. He is from New York City and had an on-and-off relationship with Moesha until departing in the middle season 3 to manage a hip-hop group. Frank dislikes him, because he feels is a bad influence on Moesha. In season 6, Q proposes to Moesha and she accepts, but the engagement is called off when Q wants to sell Moesha's engagement ring to help support his hip-hop group on Thanksgiving.
- Dorian Long (played by Ray J) (seasons 5–6) — Moesha's and Myles' long lost half-brother, previously said to be their cousin. Dorian is originally from Oakland, California, but runs away from his mother's home to live with the Mitchells. He was known to be a troublemaker back in Oakland so the Mitchells did not treat him lightly. Dorian is also an aspiring rapper going by the nickname, "D-Money". He graduates from high school during season 6.
- Bernie Mac as Bernard Jefferson “Bernie” Mitchell, Moesha's uncle and Frank's brother; Andell's boyfriend (seasons 1–4)
- Ricky Harris as Javon Aramis "J.W." Willis, a mechanic working for Frank; Andell's boyfriend (seasons 1–3)
- Merlin Santana as Ohaji, Moesha's first boyfriend (season 1, guest appearance season 4)
- Kara Brock as Sara, a friend of Moesha, Kim and Niecy (season 1)
- Antwon Tanner as Michael, Kim's boyfriend and Q's teammate on the basketball team. He appears on one episode of ‘’The Parkers’’ where he attempts to reunite with Kim and revealing in the process that he has an infant daughter. Sadly, Michael is later killed in an oil fire at his factory job. (Seasons 2–3, guest appearance Season 1)
- Kellie Shanygne Williams as Charrisse, Moesha's cousin who is in college. (season 2; season 4)
- Dru Mouser as Haley Dillard, Moesha's best friend at Bridgewood (season 3)
- Melissa Joan Hart as Haley Dillard, Moesha's best friend at Bridgewood (season 3; replaced by Dru Mouser)
- Usher Raymond as Jeremy Davis, a love interest of Moesha who goes to Bridgewood (season 3, guest appearance season 4)
- Dante Basco as Marco, a friend of Moesha's at Bridgewood (season 3)
- Monica McSwain as Mary Ellen Hobbs, a stuck-up girl at Bridgewood who clashes with what she perceives as Moesha having a "ghetto" personality. Although they dislike each other, Moesha comes to Mary Ellen's aid when the latter finds out that she is pregnant (seasons 3–4)
- Jon Huertas as Antonio Avalan, a friend of Hakeem and high school student at Crenshaw High School (season 4)
- Brandon Quintin Adams as Aaron, Moesha's college-aged boyfriend (season 4)
- Mo'Nique as Nicole "Nikki" Parker, Kim's mother who goes back to high school in order to graduate with her daughter and her friends (season 4, guest appearance season 6)
- Jo Marie Payton as Bernetta Campbell, Hakeem's mother, who works at the Magic Johnson theater. In The Parkers, she wins the lottery, and it enables her to quit her job, but she returns when Nikki Parker proves to be unreliable (seasons 4–5)
- Marissa Jaret Winokur as Theresa, Moesha's roommate during her freshman year of college (season 5)
- Master P as Patience, a thug that Dorian associates with and later gets him into trouble (season 5)
- Lahmard Tate as Jerome, a friend of Hakeem's who attends college with him; Niecy's on-and-off boyfriend (season 5-6)
- Alexis Fields as Alicia, Moesha's rival and enemy at California University. She shares a room with Moesha, Niecy, and Brenda during their sophomore year of college (guest season 4; seasons 5–6)
- Ginuwine as Khalib, a group member of Q's and later a love interest of Moesha (season 6)
- Iona Morris as Sandra "Sandy" Mitchell-Long, Moesha's aunt and Dorian's adoptive mother from Oakland, California. (Season 5-6)
- Jazsmin Lewis as Lanae Foster, an older woman that Dorian has a short-lived love affair with. (season 6)
- Olivia Brown as Barbara Lee, Dorian's birth mother (season 6)
- Bree Turner as Brenda, one of Moesha's and Niecy's roommates in sophomore year (season 6)
- Kim Whitley as Gertrude "Gertie" Lowe, a female who dated Frank, and later Nikki's best friend in The Parkers. (season 6)
There have been different versions of the opening credits theme song.
- Used for Season 1
- Used for Season 2 & 3
- Used for the last three seasons
Although the same recording of the theme song was used for the last three seasons, two different openings were used for each of the first three seasons.
- The opening sequence for season 1 shows Moesha dancing in front of a fountain, walking with friends, dancing in a moving car, and winning at a game of chess while waving at a guy as he walks away.
- The opening sequence for seasons 2 & 3 features the same scenario as that of the first season, but also features some changes. Moesha was still dancing in front of the fountain but with a bass guitar player behind her. Instead of just depicting Moesha with her friends, this intro sees her playing basketball and baseball with her friends and family, driving with her friends, strutting down a block with Kim and Niecy, teaching Kim how to rollerblade (later replaced with footage of Moesha & Q chasing Myles), and once again being served a meal at the diner by Ansell while seated with her family. When Moesha is again distracted by a cute guy walking by, Frank tries to cover Moesha's eyes.
- Season 4 showed the cast around the neighborhood and Moesha, Kim, and Niecy dancing at the fountain while wearing red outfits.
- Season 5 showed the cast dancing in a panoramic view as Norwood lip-syncs to the theme song on a background of clouds and a rising sun.
- The introduction for season 6 is similar to that of season 5, but features a twist. Since Yvette Wilson left Moesha to join the cast of The Parkers and Sheryl Lee Ralph's character Dee became a recurring character, the season 6 opening features footage of Norwood lip-syncing over the portion of the theme song where Yvette Wilson and Sheryl Lee Ralph appeared in the previous season's opening.
Spin-off and Brock Akil universeEdit
Given her popularity for four seasons on Moesha, Countess Vaughn left the show in 1999 for her own show, The Parkers, which premiered on August 30, 1999 on UPN. It centered on Kim attending community college with her mother, played by comedian Mo'Nique. Leaving Moesha, Yvette Wilson joined the cast of The Parkers as Andell Wilkerson, Nikki's childhood friend.
Several Moesha cast members (including Brandy Norwood, Shar Jackson, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Marcus T. Paulk) made crossover appearances on The Parkers. Lamont Bentley, being the most frequent, appearing in three episodes.
Though not direct spin-offs of Moesha, the shows Girlfriends and The Game were created by Moesha writer Mara Brock Akil and exist in the same universe as Moesha. The character Maya Wilkes (Golden Brooks) from Girlfriends lives in Leimert Park like the characters of Moesha, and appeared in an episode babysitting for her sister-in-law Barbara Lee, who happened to be Dorian's birth mother. Niecy later appeared in an episode of Girlfriends.
The Game was spun off from Girlfriends with the loose thread of main character Melanie Barnett (Tia Mowry) being a cousin of Girlfriends main character Joan Clayton (Tracee Ellis Ross). Though this was never mentioned again on The Game, the Melanie and Derwin characters re-appeared in the Girlfriends Season 7 finale episode for a cameo. On Moesha, Brandy played herself as a celebrity doppelganger to Moesha, and ironically Brandy joined the cast of The Game in its fifth season as Chardonnay Pitts, further complicating the notion of the shows existing in the same universe.
By the sixth season, ratings for Moesha had dropped and UPN opted not to renew or air the series for a seventh season. The series ended on an unresolved cliffhanger with Myles being kidnapped by a rival of Dorian, Moesha considering moving in with Hakeem, and a positive pregnancy test being found in the trash at Moesha's dorm room, without positive identification as to whose it was. Entertainment Weekly put out a rumor that certain plots were to be resolved on The Parkers, but those plans never came through, and the storylines were ultimately never resolved.
The show aired in syndication on UPN, Fox, and The WB affiliates. The series aired on WGN America (now NewsNation) from 2005 to 2008, The N from 2005 to 2009, Up TV, BET Her, and BET until mid 2016, and Fuse until 2019. On Up, it was edited for content to make it more "family-friendly" and was often edited heavily for broadcast on BET and BET Her due to airtime constraints. Bounce TV currently airs the series.
In the UK, Moesha aired on Channel 4 from 1996 until 1998, with only the first three seasons being broadcast. It also aired on Nickelodeon from 1996 to 2000, who only showed episodes from the first four seasons which were edited so they would be more suitable for broadcast on children's television. Paramount Channel aired the series from 2000 to 2003, as did Trouble from 2003 to 2006. From 1 November 2019, the programme started airing on Trace Vault following its rebrand from The Vault.
Since 2008, the show has been airing in international syndication in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Israel, the Middle East, Russia, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, South Africa, Latin America, Brazil, and Australia. In Spain, it ran on Disney Channel from 2005 to 2011 in an edited format deemed suitable for children's television.
The series is currently streaming on Netflix in the US, while spinoff series The Parkers is available to stream on the platform as well. The series is also available to stream on Paramount+ and Hulu.
On September 27, 2011, CBS Home Entertainment released Moesha: The First Season on DVD in Region 1 via Amazon.com's CreateSpace program. This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through Amazon.com.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release dates|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|The Complete 1st Season||14||September 27, 2011||N/A||N/A|
The following table summaries the U.S. television ratings for the series:
|Season||Season premiere||Season finale||TV season||Ranking||Viewers|
|1st||January 23, 1996||May 21, 1996||1996||#141||3.5|
|2nd||August 27, 1996||May 20, 1997||1996–1997||#134||3.5|
|3rd||August 26, 1997||May 19, 1998||1997–1998||#141||4.0|
|4th||October 6, 1998||May 25, 1999||1998–1999||#137||3.3|
|5th||August 23, 1999||May 22, 2000||1999–2000||#130||2.4|
|6th||September 4, 2000||May 14, 2001||2000–2001||#130||3.3|
|1997||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress||Brandy Norwood|
|1998||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series||Countess Vaughn|
|2000||SHINE Awards||Comedy Episode||For episode "Let's Talk About Sex"|
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