Diary of a Mad Black DJ 201: Awkward Black Girls…before Issa
Updated: Jan 5, 2022
I remember when The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl debuted on YouTube. Well actually, I was late to the party, I didn't start watching ABG until late 2011/early 2012 and I had to binge to catch up. But trust, I was "shooting in the gym" before IAMOther debuted the second season. (I honestly think that Issa and Pharrell made it acceptable to "watch TV" on YouTube.) Before then, there were docu-movies, music videos and funny clips (Fousey Tube was my joint as well.) - but I can't remember reputable TV shows that came from Youtube before this time.
I immediately identified with the main character "J". Not only because of the impromptu freestyle sessions to combat life's uncomfortable moments- but just her awkwardness in general dealing with everyday situations. I wouldn't say that I "saw myself" but I will say that "hey, I know that girl."
Now that Insecure is wrapped, I am still completely committed to the Raedio brand via their music supervision label and podcasts (Yes, We Stay Looking aka Looking for Latoya is a real podcast, yall. Hilarious!Satirical!But also meaningful!)
Representation is key and prior to Awkward Black Girl there were not enough roles that had diverse arcs for Black women outside of the stereotypical norms. I was reminiscing on ABG and I began to think about other awkward black girls that have graced our screens before we knew they were “awkward”.
Here is my list of ABGs, before Issa...
1. Synclaire James, Living Single (Portrayed by Kim Coles)
Synclaire's signature "Woo, Woo, Woo" landed her my list of ABG's. Although Synclaire typically found a way to be optimistic and fun, she still reserved an occasional clap-back for Regine and Max when needed. Not to mention, she was always there to have Khadijah's back. (sidebar: LIVING SINGLE WAS HERE BEFORE FRIENDS #neverforget)
2. Winifred "Freddie" Brooks, A Different World (Portrayed by Cree Summer)
Freddie was Hillman's divine flower child..."woke" before "woke" became a thing. If there were a black hippie culture thriving in the early 90's, Freddie would likely be the leader. This wasn't awkward per se...but considering her friend circle- Jaleesa, Kimberly and even Whitley, it was obvious at times that Freddie marched to the beat of a different drum in comparison to her classmates.
3. Myra Monkhouse, Family Matters (Portrayed by Michelle Thomas, RIP)
Myra being head over heels in love with Steve Urkel was awkward enough. (And Steve wasn't the only one squirming during those kissing scenes. Yesh!) But once you add her tea parties with stuffed animals and weird outfit choices to match the love of her life, you soon realize that Myra might actually be the one for Steve. She would even get yelled at by Carl, just as much as Steve for the awkward things she would do.
4. Tia Landry and Tamara Campbell, Sister Sister (Portrayed by Tia and Tamera Mowry)
Tia and Tamara almost made the honorable mention list, however, the sheer fact of twins separated at birth only to find each other in a mall 14 years later is pretty AWKWARD! Tia and Tamara would have goofy moments, but that was expected for any teenager. The awkward times however, could not be hidden when one of these girls had a crush on a boy in school!
Shanise McGullicuddy, Martin (portrayed by Maura McDade) No explanation needed.
Lovita Alizay Jenkins-Robinson, Steve Harvey Show (portrayed by Terri J. Vaughn)
*segue... Terri J Vaughn is also the voice of investigative reporter Rose Cranberry in "We Stay Looking", who's also pretty awkward herself, I might add.
Who would you add to the list of ABGs? Did I miss anyone?