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Series / Sister, Sister

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"I ain't ever gonna let you go!"

"That girl has my face!"

The most famous show to feature a set of twins not named Mary-Kate and Ashley (at least, until The Suite Life of Zack and Cody came along), Sister, Sister features Tia and Tamera Mowry as Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell, identical twins separated at birth and reunited 14 years later in a Detroit shopping mall. Their adoptive parents, Lisa (Jackee Harry of 227 fame) and Ray (Tim Reid, Venus Flytrap from WKRP), decide that for the good of the kids they should move in together. Since Ray is a successful limousine entrepreneur and Lisa is a down-on-her-luck fashion designer, they naturally move into Ray's place for the sake of keeping the two girls together.

The girls themselves are, of course, two sides of the same coin: Tia is a studious girl, somewhat shy and bookish. Tamera is a wild and crazy girl, prone to wild displays of emotion. Each one is quite the opposite of her adoptive parent: Tia under wacky Lisa, and Tamera under prudish Ray.


A frequent Drop-In Character was Ray's next-door neighbor Roger Evans (actor/R&B singer Marques Houston), who of course had a mad crush on both girls, and wasn't afraid to show it. He was frequently told, "Go home, Roger!" whenever someone was annoyed with him (which was practically all the time).

For the first four seasons, the girls experienced wacky hijinks and twin switches galore. Starting in the fifth season, the show was re-tooled to separate the girls more: Each got her own style, Tia stopped wearing a fake mole to look exactly identical to Tamera, etc. The girls also got boyfriends that season: Tia had Tyreke (RonReaco Lee), while Tamera took Jordan (Deon Richmond).

The show ran for six seasons, the first two on ABC, the rest on The WB. The show lives on in perpetual reruns on ABC Family and BET, and began rerunning on The Hub in March 2014.


This show provides examples of:

  • The '90s
  • Actor Allusion: Alexis Fields' character making light of the fact that she is Kim "Tootie" Fields' younger sister.
    • In one episode Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell guest star: Kenan plays a schemer who schmoozes a lot, while Kel plays his partner in crime who's an enormous ham. They're basically reprising their roles from Kenan & Kel, with the exception that their characters here are antagonists.
    • "Look, I'm sure TJ is a real...Smart Guy..."
    • Jimmy "Soupy" Campbell, played by Sherman Helmsley, makes a reference to his most famous television appearance during the credits of the Christmas episode:
    Lisa: Y'know, playing Santa Claus might be your true calling Jimmy!
    Jimmy: Yeah, maybe I'll finally get a piece of that pie!"
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: "Child's Play": The girls hire an SAT tutor, and the man who knocks on their door is much older than they expected. He says he's just the district coordinator, and introduces them to T.J. Henderson...who's much younger than they expected.
  • All Work vs. All Play: Tia is all work; Tamera is all play. Their adoptive parents are reversed: Ray is all work, Lisa is all play.
  • Alpha Bitch: Cruelly snobbish rich-girl Rhonda all throughout in season three, who was always around any time the plot called for the girls to have a rival. Her last appearance early season four reveals she had a freak growth spurt and now looks like a man in a wig (as skillfully played by a man in a wig).
  • Always Identical Twins
  • Back for the Finale: Roger.
  • Big Eater: Lisa by far.
  • Bowdlerise: Reruns of the show seem to get put on networks that edit it as if it were The Sopranos or Jerry Springer. During its run on the Disney Channel, even if you'd never seen the original show, the edits were extremely obvious, often times stepping on lines (besides suggestive material, Disney's airings of Sister, Sister – which were also the versions seen on ABC Family, an odd situation considering that the Disney Channel sister network aired Boy Meets World reruns free of content edits, something that did not occur on Disney – even removed certain product plugs such as a season three episode that included a reference to rival Nickelodeon as well as a reference to a terrorist group accused of stealing a love statue Roger accidentally stole in "Field Trip" and a joke in which Tamera informs Tia how bad an idea saying "this is the bomb" on an airplane is in "It's My Party"). Up (which began carrying the show when it was still the Gospel Music Channel) also mutes quite a bit of what the channel considers "inappropriate" dialogue, as if it was ClusterFBombs, including small-time insults. "Shut up" is an oft-muted phrase for example, and Roger's innuendo-laden comeons are silenced. It's yet to be known if those changes are visible in The Hub's airing of the show.
    • Averted with the show's airings in broadcast syndication, on BET/Centric and on the now-defunct Style Network.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The girls often speak directly to the viewers providing recaps and describing events that take place off screen in the early seasons. It gets dropped in the later seasons.
  • Butt-Monkey: Ray quite often. Roger even more often.
  • Catchphrase: Tamera's "Awww, maaaan!" whenever things aren't going her way.
  • Celebrity Star: Quite a few times: Lisa Leslie twice; quite a few musical groups, including Marques Houston's own group, Immature, and of course, the Olsen twins.
  • Classically Trained Extra: Tia's acting teacher in college, whose only acting credit seems to have been in a pizza place commercial.
  • Clip Show
  • Closer to Earth: A rare gender flipped example, with Ray being the more sensible one, and Lisa being more out there and reckless.
    • Then, of course, there's Tia to Tamara, though as time goes on she gets more and more Not So Above It All moments.
    • Gender flipped again in the last two seasons, where the girls' steady boyfriends, especially Tamera's boyfriend Jordan, tended to be the more levelheaded straight men to their misadventures.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Denise, one of the Token White girls, had traces of this. In her debut episode she freaks Tia and Tamera out with her borderline Stalker with a Crush behavior towards them, and in a later episode she makes a documentary about a day in the life of her feet.
  • Credit Card Plot: "Mo' Credit, Mo' Problems"
  • Crossover: With their little brother, Tahj Mowry's, show, Smart Guy.
  • Department of Child Disservices: Type 2. It's pretty clear the orphanage that adopted the twins out is completely incompetent, since they adopted identical twin girls separately, didn't keep any records of them or their parents, and season six reveals they wouldn't let their birth father see them (true, he was white and not married to their mother, but they still couldn't even run a DNA test just to be sure?) before adopting them out. Lisa also reveals that they gave Tia to an impoverished single mother (which goes against all kinds of protocol, as Ray points out) because the guy behind the desk found Lisa sexy in her spaghetti straps and high heels. While it mostly worked out since the girls went to loving homes anyway, it's no thanks to the orphanage's frankly criminal negligence, and still a miracle they all managed to find each other at all.
  • Demoted to Extra: Roger was seen far less often in Season 5. Marques Houston was part of development for a new show (which never got picked up), but he also took time off because of his mother being diagnosed with cancer.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: During the final two seasons.
  • Doom It Yourself: A running gag with Ray - every time he tries to build or fix something it goes horribly, horribly wrong.
    Tamera (horrorstruck at the sight of Ray with an IKEA package): "What's going on dad? You're not gonna build something, are you?"
  • Drop-In Character: Roger.
  • Expository Theme Tune:
    • "Sister Sister! Never knew how much I missed ya! Now that everybody knows, I ain't ever gonna let, you, go!"
    • The fifth and sixth season theme has Tia and Tamera embracing their individuality as well as each other.
  • Fashion-Shop Fashion Show: Most notably in "Mo' Credit, Mo' Problems".
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Tia is serious and studious, Tamera is wild and impulsive.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Rares its ugly head from time to time, especially in later seasons.
  • Gonky Femme: Former Alpha Bitch Rhonda was a beautiful, fashion-savvy girly girl. She showed up again in a later episode and, as a result of puberty, had the appearance of a huge, thug-looking woman (her character was played by a man). She still acted feminine, and her physical change made her sweeter, probably to compensate.
  • Happily Adopted: There are a couple of episodes where the girls try to find out about their biological parents, but there's never any doubt that they still love their adoptive parents.
  • He Is All Grown Up: During the fourth season, Roger goes "from as if to all that" and even has Tia and Tamera fighting over him in the season premiere.
  • In One Ear, Out the Other: In one episode Ray is in the middle of chastising Tamera, notices she isn't paying any attention and adds "Why do I get the feeling that everything I say is going IN ONE EAR AND OUT THE Other?!". The camera pans to Tamera daydreaming while Ray's suddenly visible dialogue goes in her left ear and out her right.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: The girls' brother, Tahj, appeared three times...
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Tamera's mole (though in early seasons, Tia was given a fake mole to play up the identical-ness).
  • Initiation Ceremony: The Rose president in "Rosebud" puts Tamera and her friends through the "humiliating" kind (Among the gags was going to Tia's coffee shop in their pajamas and forcing them to moo whenever anyone orders a milk product). Tamera can't take it and quits, forcing Tia (who was already vice president of the Roses) to oust the president.
  • Jacob and Esau: Adoptive makeshift blended family variation. Ray's personality is more closely aligned with Tia's (as they're both serious) while Lisa's personality is more aligned with Tamera's (as they're both reckless). This is despite, or because of, Ray raising Tamera and Lisa raising Tia.
  • Large Ham: Lisa.
  • Least Rhymable Word: A parody of The Brady Bunch theme song tries to rhyme Ray's name with, "groovy chick", by calling him, "Dick". The singers admit immediately afterwards that his real name is, "Raymond", but they couldn't find a way to make it rhyme.
  • Mistaken For An Impostor: Roger claims to know the lead singer of Immature and can get them to play a school party. When he can't get the band, he impersonates Batman (the lead singer)...badly. Then the real Batman shows up (played by Marques Houston As Himself)...and everyone naturally thinks he's Roger.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Ray gets this fairly often, especially when trying to cheer up Lisa.
  • Opinion-Changing Dream: The episode "I Had A Dream" (1998) features Tamera ridiculing the deeds of her African-American ancestors and feeling reluctant to carry on with her own miserable life. In her dream she is visited by several historical Afro-American figures who all claim they want to give up and do something else. She convinces them to do otherwise and do the historical deed that they are famous for. When she wakes up, she respects her ancestors, and realizes that ambition can also help her make important contributions to history.
  • Parental Abandonment: The sisters' biological parents throughout the series. Season 6's "Father Day" explained the circumstances. Their bi-racial parents, Racelle and Matt, were unmarried and in different countries as part of their careers. They intended to get married upon their reunion, but Racelle died before then. Since they weren't married and Matt was white, he couldn't prove he was the girls' father and wasn't allowed near them.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Go home, Roger!"
  • Playing Gertrude: Ray's father, Jimmy "Soupy" Campbell, is played by Sherman Helmsley; who was only 6 years older than Tim Reid (who played Ray).
  • Platonic Co-Parenting: The show is about a pair of twins who were Separated at Birth and find each other again, has the girls' respective adoptive parents Lisa and Ray move in with each other so the sisters can stay together. Although Lisa and Ray initially clash, they later develop a strong friendship. Although they date for a little while, they are non-romantically co-parenting the twins for much of the show and don't end up together.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Lisa and Ray. They clash A LOT, but they're (usually) good at working together to raise their daughters and eventually form a friendship.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Of course, it's even highlighted in the theme song. Tia is the smart one; Tamera's the party girl. Each girl is the opposite of the parent that raised her: Tia by Lisa, Tamera by Ray.
  • Put on a Bus: Roger at the end of Season 5 following The Twins Graduation. However, he did return for the series finale.
  • Promoted to Opening Titles: Roger in Season 2, Tyreke and Jordan in Season 6.
  • Right Through the Wall: Lisa's mother doesn't approve of her living with Ray while they're not married, so she lies and says they are - then fakes sex noises at the wall when she stays with them, so she believes they really are newlyweds.
  • Separated at Birth: In the series premiere we get a small bit of dialogue from Ray and Lisa that the girls were purposely separated by their orphanage. It was only pure luck that they managed to find each other.
  • Skyward Scream: Ray's trademark "Tameraaaaaaaa!"
  • Suck E. Cheese's: In the form of Buck E. Duck.
  • Token White: One a season.
  • Twin Switch: The girls know how to exploit their identical looks — though the switches are much less common than you might think, being most frequent in the earliest episodes. It's still common enough to get Lampshaded on occasion in the third season:
    Tamera: Aaah, wait a minute, Tia! You've got that 'you be me' look in your eye!
  • Two-Teacher School: It seemed that the only faculty member was Fred Willard unless the plot called for another teacher.
  • Uptown Girl: Tyreke, a mechanic who had had trouble with the law in the past, starts going out with Tia in the fifth season and goes though a little bit of this in his first few appearances (though it's all from Tia's point of view, of course).
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child: The serious twin Tia and her wacky adoptive mother Lisa, who is actually more similar to Tamera.
  • Wild Take: Tamera does this in the intro of season 4 episode "Boy from the Hood". Tia opens the front door to greet an old friend of hers with Tamera standing behind her expressing disinterest in meeting him. But when she sees that he's more attractive than she expected, the scene cuts to a reaction shot of Tamera as her eyes stretch out from her head, while she vocally honks like a klaxon horn with her mouth.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Tamera makes this vow in a fifth-season episode. When she catches Ray's girlfriend cheating on him, Ray doesn't believe her at first...
  • Will They or Won't They?: Ray and Lisa. They eventually dated each other in Season 4, but it didn't last long.
  • Wrench Wench: Tia briefly becomes one in one episode (and is extremely good at it), when she gets a crush on a boy who is in an auto shop class.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Ray's 5th season squeeze Vivica is caught cheating on him by Tamera. Unlike most female-caught-cheating plots, it does not end well for Vivica.
    • In one episode, Roger asks out both girls.
  • You Would Make a Great Model: Occurs in one episode when one of the girls goes to a "photographer's" apartment for a shoot. Luckily, the girls' parents arrive in time to save her.
  • Younger Than He Looks: Tamera accepts a party invitation from a cute boy she meets on the bus, then discovers it's his 12th birthday party.


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