Moesha is an American sitcom that aired on the 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 rejected by the network. It was then 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 of Regan Jon Productions, Saradipity Productions, and Jump at the Sun Productions in association with Big Ticket Television for UPN.
|Created by||Ralph Farquhar|
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)|
|Production location(s)||ABC Television Center Hollywood (season 1)|
Paramount Studios (season 3)
Sunset Gower Studios (seasons 2; 4-6)
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Regan Jon Productions|
Jump at the Sun Productions
Big Ticket Television
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
|Original release||January 23, 1996 –|
May 14, 2001
|Related shows||The Parkers|
The show focuses on the life of an upper-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, Brothers Saturn), has married Dee, the vice principal at Moesha's high 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, the teen hangout, The Den, and in some cases, Crenshaw High School, Moesha, Kim, Niecy, and Hakeem's high school. The sitcom was set in the 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" (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's relocation from her 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 characters
- Moesha Denise 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. From Season 1-5, 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 in Season 4, 17-18 in Season 5, and 18-19 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.
- Deirdre "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. She is originally from Jamaica and would speak in a thick Jamaican accent when talking about her childhood. 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
- 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. She left the show after the fourth season to star in her own spin-off series The Parkers which Mo'Nique appeared in.
- 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 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).
- 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. He is from New York City and had an on-off relationship with Moesha until departing in Season 3 to manage a hip-hop group. In Season 6, Q proposes to Moesha which she accepts, but the engagement is eventually 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' brother, previously meant 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".
- 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 Bernetta Campbell, Hakeem's mother (Seasons 2, 4–5)
- Nicole Pantenberg as Teresa, a friend of Moesha who butted 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. 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)
- 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
- Morris Day
- El DeBarge
- Chico DeBarge
- Idalis DeLeon
- Loretta Devine
- Jermaine Dupri
- Doctor Dre
- Dru Hill
- Ja'Net DuBois
- Derek Fisher
- Jamie Foxx
- Johnny Gill
- Robin Givens
- Dale Godboldo
- Reagan Gomez-Preston
- Meagan Good
- Maurice Greene
- Robert Guillaume
- Estelle Harris
- Shawn Harrison
- Lynn Hamilton
- Bo Jackson
- Wesley Jonathan
- Khalil Kain
- Andrew Keegan
- Sanaa Lathan
- Kenny Lattimore
- Lisa Leslie
- Emmanuel Lewis
- Jazsmin Lewis
- Jenifer Lewis
- Lil' Kim
- Nia Long
- MC Lyte
- Maureen McCormick
- Darius McCrary
- Carlos Mencia
- Shemar Moore
- Clifton Powell
- Kyla Pratt
- Jenni Pulos
- LeAnn Rimes
- Merlin Santana
- Deion Sanders
- Chaz Lamar Shepherd
- Russell Simmons
- Kellita Smith
- Octavia Spencer
- Soul for Real
- Gabrielle Union
- Iyanla Vanzant
- Marsha Warfield
- Billy Dee Williams
- Chris Tucker
- 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 plays as Charles in Seasons 1–3 and as himself in Season 4's "Moesha Meets Brandy")
There have been four 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.
- 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 the first season 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, strutting down a block with Kim and Niecy, teaching Kim how to rollerblade (Which is later replaced with Moesha & Q chasing Myles), and once again having a meal at the diner served by Andell with her family and is once again distracted by a cute guy walking by while Frank is trying to cover Moesha's eyes.
- Season 4 showed the cast around the neighborhood and shows Moesha, Kim, and Niecy dancing at the fountain while wearing red outfits.
- Season 5 showed the cast in a panoramic view as Norwood lip-syncs to the theme song on a background of clouds and a rising sun.
- 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.
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 Wilkerson, 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 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 an unknown positive pregnancy test being found in the trash at Moesha's dorm room. Entertainment Weekly put out a rumour that certain plots were to be resolved on The Parkers, but those plans never came through, and the storylines were ultimately never resolved.
On November 3, 2017, the cast reunited on The Real and have expressed interest in reviving the show. "Absolutely, we need a reboot to this show, because we ended on a cliff," Norwood pointed out. "Myles was kidnapped. We don’t know who was pregnant."
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 from 1997 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, Middle East, Russia, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Latin America, Brazil, and Australia. In Spain, it ran on Disney Channel (edited for kids viewing) from 2005 to 2011.
As of 2013, Moesha currently airs on Up TV, BET Her, 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 limitations on BET and Centric. Since October 1, 2016 Fuse began airing reruns. Since February 18, 2019, Bounce TV began airing reruns of the show.
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. It is unknown if the remaining 5 seasons will be released.
|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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