Sara V. Finney
|Theme music composer||Kurt Farquhar|
|Opening theme||"Moesha", performed by Brandy|
|Ending theme||"Moesha" (Instrumental)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||127 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
Regan Jon Productions (1996–1997) (Seasons 1-2)|
Saradipity Productions (Season 3-4)
Jump at the Sun Productions (1997–1999) (Seasons 3-5)
Big Ticket Television
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
|Original release||January 23, 1996 – May 14, 2001|
|Related shows||The Parkers|
Moesha was an American sitcom series that aired on the UPN network 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's 1995–1996 television season but was rejected by the network. It was then picked up by UPN, who 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 show focuses on the life of a middle class African-American 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, The Brothers Saturn), has married Dee, the vice-principal at Moesha's school, much to Moesha's disagreement. 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 and the teen hangout, The Den. The sitcom was portrayed to take place in the affluent Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.
The show dealt with real teen social issues such as teen pregnancy, drug use, race relations, premarital sex, the death of a parent, and day-to-day issues teenagers faced at home and school. In one of the most controversial episodes, "Secrets and Lies," 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's relocation from her home.
Cast and characters
- Moesha Mitchell (played by Brandy Norwood)—Like many teens, 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.
- Franklin "Frank" Mitchell (played by William Allen Young)—A Saturn dealer and father to Moesha and Myles. Originally believed to be Dorian's uncle, he is later revealed to be the young man's father.
- Deidra "Dee" Mitchell (played by Sheryl Lee Ralph) (Seasons 1–5, recurring in Season 6)—A high-school principal attempting to balance her primary career with two additional ones as wife to Frank and stepmother to Moesha and Myles.
- Kimberly "Kim" Parker (played by Countess Vaughn) (Seasons 1–4)—Moesha's boy-crazy best friend who has a crush on Hakeem, but later dated Michael.
- Myles Mitchell (played by Marcus T. Paulk)—Moesha's pesky younger brother. During the beginning of the series he was known mostly for playing practical jokes on his sister and her friends.
- 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 spinoff 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).
- Andell Wilkerson (played by Yvette Wilson) (Seasons 1–5)—Moesha's older friend and owner of the neighborhood hangout The Den. Andell is featured on the spin-off show The Parkers, where she owns a self-named restaurant and bar.
- Denise "Niecy" Jackson (played by Shar Jackson) (Seasons 2–6, recurring in Season 1)—Moesha's best friend and later her roommate.
- Quinton "Q" Brooks (played by Fredro Starr) (Seasons 2–3, recurring Seasons 4–6)—Moesha's longest-running love interest.
- Dorian Long (played by Ray J) (Seasons 5–6)—Moesha's and Myles' cousin/brother
- Bernie Mac as Bernie Mitchell, Moesha's uncle and Frank's brother; Andell's boyfriend (Seasons 1–5)
- Ricky Harris as Javon "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)
- Christian Coleman as Freddie, Hakeem's best friend and also a friend of Moesha, Kim and Niecy (Seasons 1–2)
- Jo Marie Payton as Vanetta Campbell, Hakeem's mother (Seasons 2, 4–5)
- Nicole Pantenberg as Teresa, a friend of Moesha who butts heads with Kim and later Hakeem's girlfriend (Season 2)
- Dwight Woody as Coach Vines, coach of the Crenshaw High basketball team (Seasons 2–3)
- Antwon Tanner as Michael, Kim's boyfriend and Q's teammate on the basketball team. (Seasons 2–3, guest appearance Season 1)
- Usher as Jeremy Davis, a love interest of Moesha who attended Bridgewood (Season 3, guest appearance Season 4)
- Dru Mouser as Haley Dillard, Moesha's first friend at Bridgewood (Season 3)
- Dante Basco as Marco, a friend of Moesha's at Bridgewood (Season 3)
- Jaime Elysee as Morgan, a friend of Moesha's at Bridgewood (Season 3)
- Bo Sharon as Chris, a friend of Moesha's at Bridgewood (Season 3)
- Monica McSwain as Mary Ellen, a classmate and rival of Moesha's at Bridgewood (Season 3)
- Alexis Fields as Alicia, a rival and later a roommate of Moesha and Niecy (Seasons 4–6)
- Jon Huertas as Antonio, 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)
- Derrelle Owens as Nice, Dorian's best friend and later a member of his group What! (Seasons 5–6)
- Marissa Jaret Winokur as Theresa, Moesha's roommate freshman year (Season 5)
- Jazsmin Lewis as Lanae Foster, an older woman that Dorian has a short-lived, love affair with. (Season 5)
- Master P as Patience, a thug that Dorian associates with and later gets him into trouble (Season 5)
- Lahmard Tate as Jerome, Hakeem's friend and love interest of Niecy (Season 6)
- Olivia Brown as Barbara Lee, Dorian's birth mother (Season 6)
- Ginuwine as Khalib, a group member of Q's and later a love interest of Moesha (Season 5-6)
- Bree Turner as Brenda, one of Moesha's and Niecy's roommates (Season 6)
Notable guest stars
- Da Brat
- Mary J. Blige
- Lil' Bow Wow
- Boyz II Men
- Golden Brooks
- Kobe Bryant
- Vanessa Bell Calloway
- Maia Campbell
- Morris Day
- El DeBarge
- Chico DeBarge
- Idalis DeLeon
- Loretta Devine
- Snoop Dogg
- Jermaine Dupri
- Dr. Dre
- Dru Hill
- Ja'Net DuBois
- Christopher B. Duncan
- Ed Lover
- Faith Evans
- Derek Fisher
- Jamie Foxx
- Johnny Gill
- Adele Givens
- Robin Givens
- Dale Godboldo
- Reagan Gomez-Preston
- Meagan Good
- Maurice Greene
- Robert Guillaume
- Estelle Harris
- Shawn Harrison
- Lynn Hamilton
- Bo Jackson
- Wesley Jonathan
- Quincy Jones
- Khalil Kain
- Andrew Keegan
- Sanaa Lathan
- Kenny Lattimore
- Lisa Leslie
- Emmanuel Lewis
- Jazsmin Lewis
- Lil' Kim
- Nia Long
- MC Lyte
- Maureen McCormick
- Darius McCrary
- Carlos Mencia
- Shemar Moore
- Phil Morris
- Shaquille O'Neal
- Clifton Powell
- Kyla Pratt
- Jenni Pulos
- LeAnn Rimes
- Deion Sanders
- Merlin Santana
- Chaz Lamar Shepherd
- Jessica Simpson
- Russell Simmons
- Kellita Smith
- Octavia Spencer
- Soul for Real
- Keith Sweat
- A Tribe Called Quest
- Gabrielle Union
- Iyanla Vanzant
- Marsha Warfield
- Hal Williams
- Kellie Shanygne Williams
- Malinda Williams
- Dorien Wilson
- Nancy Wilson
- Brian White
- Kym Whitley
- Brandy (she had a dual role as herself in Moesha Meets Brandy)
- Ray J (he was Ray J as Brandy's brother Ray J Meets Brandy)
U.S. television ratings
|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|
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.
Spin-off and Brock Akil universe
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 the adventures of Kim attending community college with her mother, played by comedian Mo'Nique. Leaving Moesha, Yvette Wilson joined the cast of The Parkers as Andell, Nikki's childhood best friend, in 2000.
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 referenced again on The Game, the Melanie and Derwin characters re-appeared in the Girlfriends Season 7 finale episode for a cameo. 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.
There have been four versions of the opening credits theme song.
- Used for Season 1
- Used for Season 2
- Used for Season 3, which was nearly identical to the season 2 version, but with elements from the first theme, as well
- Used for the last three seasons
Although the same recording of the theme song was used for the last three seasons, a different opening was used for each of the last three seasons.
- Season 1 showed Moesha dancing in front of a fountain, walking with friends, dancing in a driving car, and playing a game of chess...winning, while waving at a guy as he walks away.
- Season 2 & 3 had the same scenario as season one but had some changes. Moesha was still dancing in front of the fountain but with a bass player behind her. Instead of being with just her friends, she was shown to be playing basketball and baseball with her friends and family, driving with her friends and once again having a meal at the diner served by Andell with her family.
- Season 4 showed the cast around the neighborhood and shows Moesha, Kim, and Niecy dancing at the fountain.
- Season 5 showed the cast as Norwood lip-syncs to the theme song.
- Season 6 showed the cast as Norwood lip-syncs to the theme song. The same as Season 5 but with a twist. Since Yvette Wilson left to join the cast for The Parkers and Sheryl Lee Ralph's character became a recurring cast member in the show, Norwood is shown lip-syncing over where Yvette Wilson and Sheryl Lee Ralph once were in the Season 5 opening.
By the sixth season, ratings for Moesha had dropped and UPN opted not to renew 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 an unknown positive pregnancy test being found in the trash at Moesha's dorm room. Entertainment Weekly reported that certain plots were to be resolved on The Parkers, but the storylines were never resolved.
In the UK, Moesha aired on Channel 4 from 1996 until 1998, only showing the first three seasons. It also aired on Nickelodeon (edited for kids viewing) from 1996 to 2000 showing the first four seasons, Paramount Channel and Trouble.
Since 2008, The show has been running in syndication in Spain, Italy, Israel, Russia, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, UK, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Liberia, Jamaica, Japan, China, India, Korea, Singapore, Brazil, South Sudan, Australia, and Mexico.
As of 2013 Moesha currently airs on Up TV, Centric, and BET until mid 2016. On Up, it is edited for content to make it more "family-friendly" and is often edited for extreme time constraints on BET and Centric. Since October 1, 2016 Fuse began airing reruns.
|1997||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress||Brandy Norwood|
|1998||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series||Countess Vaughn|
|2000||SHINE Awards||Comedy Episode||For episode "Let's Talk About Sex"|
- "Complete TV Ratings 1995-1996". Retrieved 2010-02-12.
- "Complete TV Ratings 1996-1997". Retrieved 2010-02-12.
- "The Final Countdown". Entertainment Weekly Published in issue #434 May 29, 1998. May 29, 1998. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
- "TV Winners & Losers: Numbers Racket A Final Tally Of The Season's Show (from Nielsen Media Research)". GeoCities. June 4, 1999. Archived from the original on 2009-10-29. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
- "TV Ratings 1999-2000". Retrieved 2010-02-12.
- "The Bitter End". Entertainment Weekly Published in issue #598 Jun 01, 2001. June 1, 2001. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
- "Moesha Season (1996) Season 1Its very unknown if the remaining five seasons will ever be released: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- "Moesha Season (1996) Season 1". Amazon.com. 2011-10-29. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- Rice, Lynette (2001-06-06). "'Band' On the Run". ew.com. Retrieved 2009-07-19.