TV and Movies

So I Watched “Reed Between the Lines” Last Night

Last night, BET decided they wanted to be about that life and put on some quality programming. First was the BET Hip Hop Awards, which I actually ended up missing most of because itis got me. I took an accidental extended blink (read: nap) and woke up with only 40 minutes left in the show. I was just in time to see one Mr. James Todd Smith accept his award. He’s bout 78 years old and still FAHN! Heyyyyyyy! And we ain’t gon talk bout how Tyrese came on with a quick print shirt that had his Twitter handle on it. WE AIN’T!

Anywho, afterwards was the premiere of the show “Reed Between the Lines” so I stuck around to watch. The show has Malcolm Jamal Warner and Tracee Ellis Ross playing the Reeds, a middle class married couple with a pretty normal life. Malcolm’s character, Dr. Alex Reed, is an online English teacher and Tracee’s, Dr. Carla Reed, is a therapist. They have 3 kids (teen fraternal twins) and a little girl.

Besides them is a supporting cast that inclues Thelma from Amen Anna Maria Horsford as Carla’s secretary and the annoying girl from The Best Man Melissa De Sousa as an acupuncturist.

Reed Between the Lines

The show wasn’t anything super original (nothing is now) but it was cute. At first, it started off awkward, but most TV pilots are that. But, by the 2nd episode, it was improving so that was promising. It flowed better and the cast seemed more comfortable.

Plus, Malcolm and Tracee look REALLY cute together on screen. They make an adorabo couple, and they had really good chemistry. I musn’t forget to mention Tracee’s wardrobe,  which gave me everything I needed. That woman can rock an outfit with that dope body of hers!

Although the show was decent, and the main characters worked for me, it still had some drawbacks. The kids were a bit awkward, especially the ones playing the fraternal twins. They had no sibling-like chemistry and they just didn’t work for me. Every time they were on screen, the show got a bit boring. I wouldn’t be against them recasting those teens. I feel like they just don’t mesh well. The little girl was so cute though. She can stay.

Also, the laugh track threw me off because I didn’t find the show to be funny. I don’t think it’s funny enough to be a comedy but it certainly isn’t serious enough to be a drama. So when the laugh track played, and I was sitting on my couch with a blank stare, it felt off. I was kinda OK with the show not being obviously funny though. Either the writers are playing it super safe or they think they’re being funny when they’re not. I do think the dialogue felt a bit stunted though. They need better writing to really make those characters pop off the screen and to make us care more about their lives. And if they want to make us laugh out loud, they definitely need to inject some good one-liners or something.

Carla and Alex Reed


“Reed Between the Lines” is no Cosby Show, even with the Malcolm Jamal Warner connection and that’s perfectly fine with me. It follows the same formula of an upwardly mobile Black family with cute kids but it doesn’t try to be “Cosby.” I don’t think it’s even fair to expect it to be that epic. That is how we get super high expectations and then feel butthurt when shows don’t meet them. Every Black middle class show based around family cannot and will not be the Cosbys. There will NEVER be another, and we need to accept that.

Seeing some attractive Black folks on my screen brought me joy. And besides “The Game” there are few other Black scripted shows on right now so I was glad to see “Reed.” For those reasons alone, I wanted to watch it. And even though it does have it’s downsides, the show wasn’t bad. I’m going to give it a chance to really get its legs because I want it to succeed. I want to make sure that Hollywood realizes that there is an audience for non-Tyler Perry, non-chitlin circuit shows and films. I’ll support this show.

I am typically quick to snatch BET’s wig for their subpar shows and other random things. But on this one, I’ll give them props. They seem to be listening to our constant roasting and trying to do better with their programming offerings so I’ma let them cook. Lemme find out Debra Lee’s tryna get that station’s life together in 2012. LEMME FIND OUT!

“Reed Between the Lines” is a breath of fresh air and I’ll be tuning in again next week. The writing could be stronger but it is decent. I’ll give it a B-.

Did you guys watch it? What are your thoughts? Are you gonna watch it again?

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  1. manda
    October 12, 2011 at 7:18 am

    I watched it. It was a little better than okay. I like Casey, better than that Mindless Behavior reject. The story was kinda confusing, but I finally got it. Carla was in a relationship/married and had those twins. She met Alex and they had Alexis. It started off slow, but all new shows start off slow. I think some people on Twitter was expecting greatness, yet they the same people who laugh at Brown.

    I think Thelma will provide the only comedic relief on the show. The girl from Best Man/One on On will be a stereotypical chick who is just there. I will be giving it another chance. It is refreshing to see a black family on TV that loves and supports each other.

    • October 12, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      Yup! The older ones aren’t Alex’s. I figured that out during the 1st ep. I wasn’t expecting greatness b/c that’s the quickest way to disappointment but it also didn’t make me wanna kick a teddy bear. I liked it.

  2. October 12, 2011 at 7:43 am

    I wanted to watch, but I couldn’t stay awake. I hope that its regular timeslot is not that late, it makes no sense to have a sitcom on at 10pm. I’m hoping they just did that to get a lead in from the Hip Hop Awards. Speaking of which, if I was in their marketing department I wouldn’t have chosen that as a lead in AT ALL! I’m going to venture that a large audience of the Hip Hop awards may not be the same audience for Reed Between the Lines. I for one had no idea the Hip Hop Awards were even coming on that night, but I knew about Reed Between the Lines through print ads (Essence) and other online promo ads for it. Black and Married With Kids also promoted a special twitter chat for the show, so I say all that to say, what I already said, bad marketing IMO. As for other black sitcoms, I make it a point to watch Are We There Yet, which is produced by Ice Cube and on TBS and is a cute black sitcom that I can actually watch in the company of my children, unlike the other TBS black sitcoms which are all Tyler Perry stuff. I will catch Reed Between the Lines next week and definitely will watch it On Demand if it’s on there. Thanks for the recap!

    • October 12, 2011 at 9:03 pm

      I’m not sure if this is the regular timeslot. I feel like it prolly is though b/c this is the same time they showed eps of “The Game.” Well, it was kinda smart for them to lead w/ the Hip Hop Awards b/c a buncha folks were already watching. So before they had the chance to change the channel, BAM!

      I’ve never watched “Are we there yet” but maybe I’ll try to tune in one of these days.

  3. Serenity
    October 12, 2011 at 8:26 am

    It’s makes me feel old to see that Theo is now the one with the children. Bill Cosby should come on the show and play MJW’s father. he’s old and grisly enough

    • MObetta
      October 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      Do you know how much I would LOVE that?! Bill is my grandpa in my mind…but Bill plays NO games with his brand. So we shall see…

    • October 12, 2011 at 9:03 pm

      OOOOO!!! I’d love to see that. And Phylicia Rashad as his mama. I’d be so amused!

      • October 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm

        *handclaps* as would I!!

  4. mzinspiredmind
    October 12, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I agree with you. It was nowhere near as bad as my Twitter TL made it out to be. Could you imagine if Twitter was around when The Cosby Show and Different World were on air? They probably would’ve tore those shows to shreds too. I am definitely going to keep watching but those two teens were painfully boring. The girl reminds me of a Sandra (from Cosbys) and she was dreadfully boring too. LOL

    • NeicyRox
      October 12, 2011 at 11:57 am

      I kept saying, “This little gal reminds me of somebody, but who? Hmmmm….LAWD, SHE LOOKS LIKE SONDRA!!!!!!” lol.

    • October 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm

      Twitter be going IN! And I’m usually one of the folks who does but I chilled on this one. LAWD in this age a lotta epic shows might not have been so epic. We’da shaded them into cancellation.

      OOOO at the girl being Sondra-like. This is accurate b/c she too was boring as crap! Makes sense!

  5. October 12, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Yes, I have to agree with what you said about the teens. I really think they will end up being replaced. I could not sense any chemistry between them and their parent and couldn’t really figure out what their character archetype was-but then again it was only the first two episodes. Overall, I thought It was OK enough for me to want to watch it again. LOVE Love love the chemistry between Tracee and Malcolm.

    • October 12, 2011 at 10:18 pm

      Yeah those teens gotta go.

  6. Jocy
    October 12, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I watched it and liked it. Very cute show. Two good actors as anchors will help take it forward to success. The writing was definitely missing a little something. The little girl is my favorite kid as well. She has personality without needing an introduction to a belt. I hope the show takes off and reminds the world of The Cosby Show. There are black folks who work and raise their children; who are educated and love each other.

    • October 12, 2011 at 10:18 pm

      YES INDEED! all of this comment gets a “YES!”

  7. October 12, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I cosign. I thought it was good, not great, but it definitely has potential. Tracee & Malcolm looked great together on screen. I’ll def be supporting this show.

    • October 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm

      Word life. Tracee and Malcolm are such eye candy

  8. October 12, 2011 at 10:09 am

    i watched it and i liked it…like all shows its going to take a couple of shows to get its legs (just like a different world, the cosby show-if you go back to the very first show and seasons, it took a while) its a solid B for me and i hope critical ignant folks who always have something to say (ie my FB timeline) get over themselves and realize a lot of black folks look like the Reeds…i am happy to see a representation of me and my family/friends on tv FINALLY

    • October 12, 2011 at 10:20 pm

      I didn’t even check my FB newsfeeds for feedback on the show. I be forgetting bout them sometimes. Either that or I just don’t give a damb.

  9. Angel
    October 12, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I agree totally with your post!! I’ll definitely give it a shot, but the show definitely has room to grow.

    • October 12, 2011 at 10:20 pm

      Glad you shall support

  10. Michelle
    October 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    The show is a great alternative to the void of black TV programming. I appreciate the effort! I did think it was suppose to be funny, I thought the actors were struggling with timing and the writers were struggling with finding the voice of the characters. Sidebar: why don’t you get in the mix and help them out with the funny “Were-middle-class-non-threatening-hip-interesting-people” jokes. I did think the show dragged a little but that’s fixable. All in all, I’m happy with the effort!

    • October 12, 2011 at 10:21 pm

      MAN LISTEN!!! If they want me, i’m ready! In fact, take this request to church on Sunday and see whether the Lawd will hear your cry. I think I could write for them!

      • MWestDominicana
        October 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm

        Girl, do it before they hire Tyler Perry!

  11. Gavee
    October 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I think it was a great show! Finally something the kids can watch. I hope it was on earlier, though but I’m sure it will be re-aired as most of BET’s shows are. I was refreshingly surprised. Hope they keep it drama free. It is very apparent that MJW comes from the Cosby school of acting. His speech, cadence, etc… Not a bad thing, just an observation. I’ll keep watching.

    • October 12, 2011 at 10:23 pm

      Hmmm… it might not be re-aired so soon. They don’t typically re-air new eps so close to their premiere. Maybe you’ll have to DVR it next time.

      • Gavee
        October 14, 2011 at 11:07 am

        The first two epi’s will re-air Sunday 8PM Eastern. Don’t know if they’ll continue after that.

  12. Ann
    October 12, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    I really wanted to like this show, but sadly,I did not. I thought that the show was just ok nothing more. The one big complaint I have is with the teens, I don’t feel that they work at all and they should be replaced ASAP. I have never really been a fan of Tracee Ross and this show did not change my feelings about her in any way shape or form. I know that this was just the beginning and for that reason I will give the show another chance to see if it will grow on me.

  13. October 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    1) It was okay. The 1st season of The Fresh Prince was a little shaky then got better, so I hope this will do the same

    2) 10pm time slot? “Are We There Yet” has a 9pm time slot. Clearly, TV people know nothing about kids and bedtime

    3) Anna Maria Horsford is 62. Her black hasn’t cracked, dented, wilted…

    4) The Robin Givens sex addict thing bothered me, since this is supposed to be a family show.

    I’m holding out hope. It’s an overall good show.

  14. October 12, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    I just watched on my DVR tonight. I thought it was okayyyy. Maybe I’m old but I kept seeing Malcolm as Theo, and lady from Amen as lady from Amen, Robin Givens as crazy Robin Givens, and then dude from City Guys as that random Black dude. Anywho. Something was off – the jokes, the timing, the chemistry. I don’t need Mr. Brown n’ems antics but it needs to be elevated a little bit if they’re going for a comedy.

  15. October 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Welp I don’t watch EBT,but why can’t they have shows that are polished and well written?! Luvvie you can write funny shit all day! They need you!

    But you can check for me as I will be in the audience of Black Girls Rock airing next month! 🙂

  16. October 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Great review. I too really liked it and saw some real potential in the premise.

  17. BlackOnyx03
    October 13, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    OMG! I just stumbled across your review and seriously – I was like, get out of my head! I am convinced that if we knew each other in real life, we’d either be friends or twins! LOL. You took the words right out of my mouth! Everything about this review was on point.

    I’m going to give the show a chance…but it needs stronger writing, better teen actors, and I really wish Theo was their bio dad so he’d have a bit more chemistry with them.

  18. October 14, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Ok so anyway im not gonna stop watching it. ummon keep watching it. However, I felt those akward moments. I was like aww Joan still killing the dress game.. with her big butt high waisted self. I had freinds over and we were like ummn are the writers still on strike?
    (looks around sheepishly)

  19. paintgurl40
    October 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    i’m late as hell but i thought the show was cute. the twins are…well…but overall i liked it.

  20. Elle
    October 25, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Not funny at all. Black people, we don’t have to watch a show just because black people are on it. It was way too safe. The parents are corny and the kids are obnoxious. This show would be “positive” if it were funny. This makes it seem as if a black network can’t put some real funny material together. BET is ran by such frauds. They poisoned the youth for years with shows like Uncut and showing trash music videos and now they try to redeem themselves by airing a “sitcom” that isn’t funny?? Just makes them look incompetent and that’s negative in my book.

    • October 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      This comment is everything. Yes.

    • lala
      November 8, 2011 at 11:42 pm

      Finally, somebody who is seeing things as they are. Look, I will support any black sitcom that tries to portray black families/black people in a positive light, but I’m not going to act like this show is the greatest thing since the Cosby Show when it is so lacking in so many levels. I feel like people are praising this show just because it’s a positive black family sitcom. I just think there needs to be more of a reason to like and praise a show besides the fact that there’s a black cast and the show so happens to be positive. The acting is bad, there’s virtually no chemistry between any of the actors, the plot lines are corny, and it is NOT funny. The “positive image” family values they put in the episodes is sincere, but so preachy and forced. Why can’t the writers/actors make a show that is actually fun to watch and that is actually funny?

      • Elle
        November 9, 2011 at 11:38 pm

        “Why can’t the writers/actors make a show that is actually fun to watch and that is actually funny?”

        It’s BET……

        • lala
          November 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm

          @ Elle- LOL.

  21. […] of weeks ago, “Reed Between the Lines” premiered on BET, and I watched it and wrote this review of my initial reaction. I was rooting for it for real. I know I’m a professional hater at […]

  22. ABG
    November 2, 2011 at 9:59 am

    …watched the 1st ep and was not impressed so I haven’t watched anymore…watched long overdue Hip Hop Awards w/MJW and TER present award…set Tivo for upcoming eps. But after reading ur recent post, I might have to cancel the recordings. I was going to give it a try…even though I am leaning more towards not, I might watch an ep and see what the deal is. Fingers/eyes and toes crossed…:-)

  23. lala
    November 8, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    A lot of people seem to like this show for how it portrays an African American family in a positive light, and for how it has a lot of teachable family lessons that many seem to relate or gravitate to. The show succeeds in that, without a doubt. However, a show can’t rest solely on its ability to teach family values and at being positive. There also needs to be great storylines, character development, and natural chemistry between the actors, which is NOT the case for this show. The obvious problem is that Tracee and Malcom are hardly believable as husband and wife. The way the show has to enforce their sexual chemistry is so forced and over the top. They aren’t even believable as parents, they have NO chemistry with the child actors, and as a whole, I don’t think the kids on the show have any chemistry with Malcom and Tracee. It makes the show as a whole so forced that it’s almost cringe-worthy. Then there’s something I find kind of annoying how there is a little too much focus on Tracee and her “therapy sessions.” It’s not only distracting but it further seems to distance the actors from each other when the focus seems to be too much on Tracee and her clients. It strays away from the “sitcom family” presence as a whole. They try to make the therapy segment part of the show funny, but it’s boring. The antics with the receptionist is just so silly and unprofessional, and highly unnecessary (and not funny). They try to instill family values/issues in each episode, but it kind of falls flat and feels rather preachy. This show just screams for better writers and for more character development and a more natural interaction with the actors. Also, I think this show needs more focus, a LOT more focus. It’s called a comedy, but it’s NOT funny. It’s trying to be a family sitcom, but many of the plot lines seem to mostly revolve around Tracee and her job or Tracee and Malcom trying to get it on. When an episode is focused on the children, it’s just painful, they have NO chemistry with each other and they just aren’t realistic as characters. The show overall just REALLY needs better writers, better chemistry between the actors, more comedy, better storylines, and more focus, if they don’t improve on that, this show will fail. Sorry, but just because this show is about a “positive African American sitcom family” doesn’t mean we should act like it’s the greatest thing since the Cosby Show. It is not. This show is lacking in so many ways, and it really needs to improve, otherwise, we’ll lose probably the only current black sitcom that has potential to be something good.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:48 am

      Thank you all for echoing those points. The premise shouldn’t be “positive family comedy”. That premise is what makes this program so boring. I can’t watch.

  24. lynnbabe
    December 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I really like this show.This is so much more better than tyler perry’s stupid dumb crap,like meet thebrowns,and house of stupid least they have decent jobs,and we sure need this now,instead of us always looking like jerks,and dummys.So it may not be that funny nor was girlfriends but everyone still watched. So everyone just give bet a chance.I loved the cosby show,there’s nothing wrong with a updated version… Thanks.

  25. thante
    February 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    it was ok, nothing special but nothing so bad, but that little girl alexis is soooo annoying, I dont even find her cute, she has like an obnoxious way of talking and it aint cute or funny. Yh I agree with the laugh track thing…its awkward…