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Series / Moesha

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"Mo to the, E to the... Mo to the, E to the..." note 
"Up in the morning, a new day is dawning
It's me, it's me.
Now realizing my responsibilities, it's me.
My best friends are always on my mind
If you want to be down, come on
I gotta do what I gotta do
I gotta move!

Moesha is an American sitcom that ran on UPN from January 23, 1996 through May 14, 2001, starring R&B singer Brandy Norwood. The show focuses on the life of a middle-class African American family through the eyes of a typical girl.

At the series' start, Moesha's widowed father, Frank, has, to Moesha's dismay, just married Dee, the vice principal at Moesha's school. Other members of the Mitchell household included Moesha's younger brother Myles, and later on her cousin Dorian, who was later revealed to actually be her paternal half-brother, the result of infidelity on Frank's part during his first marriage. Moesha's friends included Niecy, Hakeem, Andell, owner of the neighborhood hangout, the Den, and Kim, who later received her own show.

After six seasons, the show was cancelled, ending the series in a cliffhanger. Brandy confirmed in late 2019 and again in 2020 that a reboot is in the discussions stage.

Shares a universe with Girlfriends and The Game.

The show provided examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Bernie and Andell's secret relationship in the third season eventually culminates in the two getting engaged despite everyone's flippant reaction to the two lasting together. By the 5th season, the two are not seen interacting much. When Andell migrates to The Parkers, the engagement plotline is simply dropped.
    • Frank and Dee trying to have a baby of their own also dropped after carrying through a couple of seasons.
  • Aerith and Bob: Frank (normal name), Dee (usually a nickname), Myles (normal name spelled differently), and Moesha (very unique name).
  • Alpha Bitch: Mary-Ellen during the Private school episodes; she eventually gets a Break the Haughty when she gets pregnant. Alicia during the college years was a more villainous example. She later got another Break the Haughty when her boyfriend turned out to have been cheating on her, and Took a Level in Kindness.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: A final season episode aptly titled "What If...?" has Moesha and Niecy ponder what life would be like if Moesha's parents had never gotten back together. Moesha lives with her mom, who never died, and Frank is married to Barbara Lee. Moesha is a scheming hoodrat that Hakeem can't stand to be around, Dorian is a nerd, Niecy is a waitress, and Myles is pretty much like his normal counterpart. The entire sequence is framed as a soap opera called Moesha and the Restless.
  • Anachronism Stew: Lampshaded after Moesha's Creative Writing teacher grades her play a "D" because she has a 1930s G man in a 1940s club where a song from the 1950s is being sung and the characters speak in 1990s slang.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Myles.
  • As Himself: Morris Day, on the episode "Rhythm and Dues"
  • Ascended Extra: Niecy evolved from a friend at the Den with almost no lines in the pilot to one of the core cast members and Moesha's best friend by the final season.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: When Alicia spread a rumor about Moesha sleeping around with several men, including Alicia's boyfriend in "Gimme A Break", Moesha confronted the other girl in her usual diplomatic and demands an apology. When Alicia refused and proceeded to call Moesha "Hoesha", Moesha immediately lunged for the girl, only to be held back by Niecy, who had to restrain Moesha twice. As Niecy dragged Moesha out of the cafe, Moesha made it known that she would come back to finish the job.
    Moesha: She (Niecy) can't hold me back forever!
  • Big Eater: Hakeem, and how.
  • Black and Nerdy: Moesha's cousin Clark.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: One Very Special Episode revolved around Moesha potentially starting a relationship with a white guy. Drama ensues.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Moesha, at times, though she usually learns her lesson at the end of the episode.
  • Broken Pedestal: Frank to Moesha and Dorian after it's revealed that her cousin was actually her brother.
    • In "The Candidate", Moesha and Hakeem have this after the political candidate they support, sexually harasses Hakeem.
  • Celebrity Paradox: One episode had Moesha meeting...Brandy Norwood. (The latter plays the former.)
    • Moesha and Jeremy (played by Usher) go to see Usher in concert. Jeremy's reaction? "He ain't all that!"
    • Charles (played by Ray J) begs Q to let him do a set that he created himself at the Den. He performs "Everything You Want," a Ray J song. Ray J eventually appears as himself in a later season.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Later episodes got a lot more serious due to the waning relationship between Moesha and Frank.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Kim.
  • Crossover: Hakeem and Niecy were part of a crossover episode with Clueless when UPN picked up the show. The cast also crossed over for a Halloween episode of The Parkers.
    • There is also some Character Overlap when Maya from Girlfriends appears - her brother is married to Dorian's birth mother. Niecy similarly made an appearance on Girlfriends.
  • Cut Short: The series ended in a cliffhanger due to being Screwed by the Network.
    • Even more egregious since they were, apparently, only one episode from completing the series. Word of God said that the family would've rescued Myles from his captors.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Frank dislikes Q and doesn't think he's good enough for Moesha as well as how he dresses and acts. Frank forbids Moesha from seeing Q, which (of course) doesn't stop her and it comes to a head when he and Dee catch Moesha and Q about to kiss while in her bedroom.
  • Dancing Theme: The intro to seasons four through six.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Normally played straight with Moesha's dead mother, Marguerite. Subverted in that she forced Frank to give up Dorian.
    • Added to that, it turns out that Frank only started a relationship with Barbara Lee when, after enduring marital problems, Marguerite left him and later returned and took Moesha with him.
  • Disappeared Dad: Dorian's stepdad is mentioned as this in passing. Not much is said or known about him, but he isn't mentioned fondly.
    • Technically, he's an uncle.
  • Drop-In Character: Hakeem
    • Andell once the Den closes.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: A controversial arc (brought about via Executive Meddling) involved Moesha's cousin Dorian discovering that Frank, Moesha's father, was actually his biological father.
  • Fat Best Friend: Kim
  • Flanderization: Hakeem's Big Eater tendencies were originally an attempt to bulk up for the basketball team. This was forgotten pretty quickly.
  • Go-Getter Girl: Moesha, who is driven and focused and often times butts heads with men who want to put her in her place.
  • Good Stepmother: Dee is a like mother figure to her stepchildren Moesha and Myles.
  • Happily Married: Frank and Dee. At least until the fifth season...
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Moesha
  • I Am Big Boned: Kim claims this.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Moesha and Andell
    • Moesha and Miss Moss at least until the Alzheimer's kicks in
  • Invisible Parents: For a show with such a strong focus on Mo and her family, the fact that none of her friends' parents ever appear really sticks out. Averted with Kim when Nikki Parker finally makes her debut to set up The Parkers.
  • Karma Houdini: Frank, in one episode. For the sake of peace in the family, he asks a reluctant Moesha to accede to Dee's signing her up for modeling classes behind her back. When the situation blows up (Dee is impossible to deal with), Frank then plays peacemaker - looking good over calming down a situation he caused. Or, Frank - you could have stood up to your wife in the first place.
    • Myles gets caught smoking weed and Frank signs him up for therapy that eventually extends to the whole family. This is the same Frank that banned Moesha from dating, forced her to go to another school, compared her to a tramp, drove her out of her own home for an entire summer, tried to get her to take a drug test, and forced Dorian into boot camp. Myles gets to play video games with his therapist.
  • Local Hangout: The Den
    • The Pendulum during the college years.
  • Missing Mom: Moesha's birth mother is dead.
  • Monochrome Casting: Borderline case - most White and Hispanic characters are temporary and peripheral to varying degrees.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: China Moses doesn't really try to sound genuinely French when playing a French exchange student.
  • One Last Field Trip: Moesha and her friends have a Slumber Party before she leaves for college; it doubles as a Framing Device for a Clip Show.
    • Fully Automatic Clip Show: Evoked when Kim acknowledges that although Myles is annoying, "that little brother sure can dance!"
  • Out of Focus:
    • Q pretty much vanished by the middle of the third Season.
    • Bernie suffered a similar fate after the engagement arc was aborted.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Frank and Dee are married at the start of series, and Moesha has not adjusted well to having Dee around, especially since she feels like Dee is trying to replace her birth mother.
  • Parody Episode: Parodied The Cosby Show and I Love Lucy.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Myles, Go to Your Room!!"
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Moesha and Hakeem (at first) who have been friends since they've been children and are clearly not romantically interested in each other. They later become a couple.
  • Put on a Bus: J.W., Andell's boyfriend in the third season. Particularly egregious in that it happened mere episodes after they celebrated their anniversary.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: The show had a backdoor pilot for The Parkers introducing Kim's mother Nikki, and then later Maya (Golden Brooks) from Girlfriends is in an episode babysitting for her sister-in-law, who is Dorian's birth mother.
  • Retool: Started with the middle of the 5th season. The many changes during the college years include the Genre Shift from Sitcom to Dramedy, the departure of two major characters, sudden abortion of multiple story arcs, intense focus on a new character over others, sudden revelations about characters' backstories, a new soundtrack, as well as the abandonment of several of the show's quirks including Moesha's opening and closing narrations for every episode and the unique visual moments between scenes.
  • Rich Language, Poor Language: Moesha and her middle-class family, in contrast to most other characters in the programme. (Perhaps the most egregious being Q).
  • Sassy Black Women: Several of the women, but Kim by far the most.
  • Spinoff: The Parkers.
  • Stock Sitcom Grand Finale: For the Den when it shuts down. The actual finale didn't get this as it wasn't intended to be the final episode.
  • Take That!: In the "Life Imitating Art" episode, a student claims that Mariah Carey is Black...when it is convenient.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Moesha and her photography teacher Channing have a little tryst, and even kiss. Afterward, he leaves the job due to the inappropriateness of the relationship. He and Moesha then go on one date after she turns 18, but then they come to realize the age difference is too much to overcome.
  • Token Minority: Nearly one per season. All are chucked once their respective seasons are over.
    • Theresa in season 2.
    • Marco in season 3.
    • Antonio in season 4
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Frank believes Kim (the "K word") is this to Moesha, at least during the pilot.
    • Kim eventually admits that she leads Nikki to believe that Mo was the toxic friend in their relationship.
  • Troubled Teen: Season 5 introduced Dorian, Moesha's cousin who ran away from home and constantly gets into trouble. While he seems to start improving towards the middle of the season, it all becomes exasperated when it's revealed that Dorian is actually Moesha's brother, a secret her father Frank hid from family for years. From there, Dorian not only regresses, but acts out even more, starts hanging around gangs and doing their dirty work, and even steals a car from his father's car lot to run errands for them. By the end of the season, after Dorian's actions bring his gang associates to the Mitchell house (after he gets a lot of their money confiscated by the police), Frank has had enough and sends him to a juvenile boot camp to set him straight.
  • Unrequited Love: Kim/Hakeem
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Hakeem by the end of the series.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Hakeem and Q in the final season over Moesha.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Dee averts this. Though it is implied Moesha's mother, Marguerite, was this to Dorian, threatening to divorce Frank if he did not abandon him.
    • Hell, his birth mother isn't much better, as she and her husband are implied to spoil and distill extremely lax discipline in their children (Dorian's other half-siblings), causing them to turn out to be total brats.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: It is implied that Moesha does not remember her mother, despite the fact that she would have needed to have survived long enough to have Miles.
    • This is also a case of Depending on the Writer. In an episode where Moesha accuses Dee of trying to get rid of her mother's furniture, she has several vivid flashbacks of her childhood with her mom and the couch Dee tried to sell. In the last season when Frank explains how his relationship with Barbara Lee started, Moesha draws a complete blank on the time period her parents were separated even though it wouldn't have been too far removed from the previously mentioned flashbacks.
    • Maybe, maybe not. Dorian is only 2 years younger than Moesha. Frank most likely met Barbara Lee, conceived Dorian, and reconciled with Marguerite all before Moesha turned 4. That would still give plenty of time for Myles to be born after their reconciliation and would explain why neither Moesha nor Dorian remember any of that time. They would've been too young to know what was going on.