A couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity to screen the first two episodes of BET‘s new family sitcom “Reed Between The Lines.” Starring Malcolm Jamal Warner as Dr. Alex Reed and Tracee Ellis Ross as Dr. Carla Reed, the show is being touted as a new generation’s version of the Cosby Show. I personally think that’s a stretch… but seeing as though I have only seen two episodes, I’m going to give it a chance.
The family dynamic presented in the show is interesting. Dr. Carla Reed has a set of fraternal twins, Keenan & Kaci, (portrayed by Nadji Anthony Jeter and Zoe Soul respectively) from a previous relationship. The Reed’s also have a younger daughter Alexis, (played by Zoe Hendrix) that they share. Dr. Alex is an NYU English professor who teaches his courses online, making him primarily a stay-at-home dad and home school teacher to Alexis. Dr. Carla is a successful psychologist with her own practice which comes complete with a know-it-all assistant named Ms. Helen (portrayed by Anna Maria Horsford) and her best friend Gabby (portrayed by Melissa De Sousa) her office suitemate, a sort of new-age healing practitioner who specializes in acupuncture.
Without giving too much away, I can see what they’re trying to do, and where they’re attempting to take the show. However, I will guarantee you that as you watch, at some point you will find yourself saying “Wow… Joan Clayton married Theo Huxtable!“…and that’s not necessarily a good thing. The similarities between Dr. Carla Reed and Tracee Ellis Ross’ other most notable character Joan Carol Clayton (from Girlfriends) are uncanny. They possess some of the same character flaws, like a bit of awkwardness and insecurity that tends to flare up a little too often. On a more positive note though, they also both have great fashion sense. Those who coveted Joan’s looks on Girlfriends will be happy to know that Dr. Carla Reed is just as stylish. In the first two episodes, you’ll also see a bit of what I think is foreshadowing of what is to come as the season progresses in the relationship between Keenan and his stepfather Alex. The twins call Alex “Dad”…although he’s not their biological father. But a couple of awkward encounters in the second episode lead me to believe that Keenan is beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable with that. What do I enjoy most about the show? I love the positive portrayal of the Black family. I also love the fact that there is no coonery or bafoonery exemplified by any of the characters. It has potential to be a really great addition to the BET line up.
In the first episode, you’ll see a cameo from Robin Givens, and in the second an appearance by Wesley Jonathan. Brought to you by Mara Brock Akil & Salim Akil of Akil Productions… I think Reed Between The Lines is worth your time. It airs tonight at 10/9c on BET following the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards.