BET’s ‘Reed Between The Lines’ Parallels Cosby Show In Offering Positive Black Images

Since the award-winning “The Cosby Show” ended nearly two decades ago, few TV shows have offered positive images of black families. Now BET wants to fill the gap with new scripted programming.

BET’s “Let’s Stay Together,” a romantic comedy involving contemporary relationships that debuted in January, is filming its second season after helping the network score its best ratings in BET’s history with an average of nearly 3 million viewers. And last week, the premiere of “Reed Between the Lines,” a new show starring Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Tracee Ellis Ross, pulled in solid numbers with 3.3 million viewers the night it debuted, and 2.9 million viewers for a rebroadcast the same night. The audience slipped this week, though, with 1.2 million viewers on Tuesday night.

“We have a sense of relief that this show may be the closest thing to `Cosby’ since `The Cosby Show,'” Warner said.

Warner and Ross star as Alex and Carla Reed, who try to balance their demanding careers while raising three children. Ross plays a psychiatrist who specializes in depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders, while Warner’s role is an English online professor at New York University.

Warner, who played Theo Huxtable on “Cosby,” said “Reed” has the potential to be a quality show that highlights a loving, upscale black family in the same fashion as the groundbreaking NBC show, which ran from 1984 to 1992.

After “Cosby” ended and went into syndication, Bill Cosby publicly criticized the television industry for failing to maintain the standards his show had started. Over the years, a few shows have showcased positive black images and roles: Andre Braugher won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Det. Frank Pembleton on “Homicide: Life on the Street”; Vanessa Williams has three Emmy nominations under her belt for playing a conniving fashionista on “Ugly Betty”; the family drama “Soul Food”; the sitcom about young black professionals, “Girlfriends.”

But Ross, who starred on “Girlfriends,” which aired from 2000 to 2008, said that for the most part, TV has lacked a strong black father figure since Cosby’s role, and she thinks Warner can now fill that role. She said she hears from fans that they have been yearning for a family comedy show such as “Cosby,” with two career-oriented parents of color who maintain a loving relationship with each other and still seek to instill good moral values in their children.

“I think it’s time for television to have a man like Malcolm,” said Ross, who produced the show with Warner. “There is a version of a stand-up kind of man we haven’t seen in a while. I’m ready to see a couple who actually loves each other working it out.”

Reed Between The Lines Airs Every Tuesday at 10pm on BET. Did you miss the premiere? Watch it BELOW.

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3 replies
  1. K.O.
    K.O. says:

    Thank you for the heads up on a new Black show! I just watched the premier, and am so excited to start watching more episodes. It might not be the most realistic (in my world), but that doesn't stop me from watching positive Black tv!

  2. Sherrie W.
    Sherrie W. says:

    I was so excited about this show and it was exactly what I expected:great television.Chatting back and forth with friends on FB and twitter I was surprised to see how many people didn't like the show.I had friends talking about how unrealistic it was and how nasty it was that they were all over each other..SMDH.Being the person I am I didn't hold my tongue and asked the question "How is it unrealistic to see a married couple in love with each other when millions do it everyday,but you all can watch basketball wives and no one is a wife?" Of course no one answered my question but all my married friends agreed.If what they were doing on the show was considered nasty then me and my hubby are damn near xrated with our love.

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