Focusing on the friendships of four young, black women, ‘Girlfriends’ is the TV show that gave a spin to the narrative of ‘Sex and the City’ from the perspective of African-Americans. The show became immensely popular and was appreciated for bringing a realistic tale of friendship and womanhood through its stories. It also focuses on culturally and politically relevant issues and never held back on all that it wanted to say. This is what made it resonate so well with the audience, who could see themselves in the four women at the center of the story. Where does the show get its raw realistic tone from? Is it based on a true story? Let’s find out.
Is Girlfriends based on a true story?
No, ‘Girlfriends’ is not based on a true story. Mara Brock Akil created the show after she found television lacking in stories about young black people. She found that the stories about African-Americans would come in waves; they would come and go away. And in between these intervals, the shows were mainly focused on family sitcoms about black people. When she saw ‘Sex and the City’, she decided that she needed to present a similar take on the stories of young black women, highlighting their flaws as much as their perfection, their ambitions as much as their love lives.
“Black women did not have any seat at the table on Sex and the City. And although I still really enjoyed the show, I didn’t see that as a rejection, I saw it as an opportunity. So when this moment came, this [pitch] meeting came, when they said what they wanted, I said, ‘Well, I want to give you a very modern take on female friendships, similar to Sex and the City in tone and tonality.’ And that got their attention,” said Akil.
“I just wanted to document us,” she said. “Going back to Sex and the City, we couldn’t even be extras in New York. We couldn’t even just be on the street, walking by and Carrie checking out our style, and then biting our style, because that’s what they do. Instead of me being angry at that, I would take that note, and I’d write it down, put it back in my pilot, because I wanted to document how amazing we were. I wanted to document that we actually existed. This is what we were thinking back in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 to 2008. This is what we were juggling. This is what we were fucking up. This is what we’re doing great. This is what we were concerned about.”
She found her chance to bring ‘Girlfriends’ on the screen when new networks emerged and were looking for shows to build upon. But she was also familiar with the trend where once the networks found their footing, they wouldn’t “need us anymore”. But Akil decided to change this into an opportunity. She wanted to create a show for young adults, which would be “something sexier and edgier”. Through the show, she wanted to paint the picture of black women as people who didn’t have to be perfect and composed all the time. They could make mistakes, they could be messy and complicated, like other white characters on the screen. The focus was to present “a more accurate portrayal of their everyday lives.”
Read More: Where is Girlfriends Filmed?