The Big Picture

  • Sister, Sister stood out among other ’90s shows with its underrepresented family dynamic, bringing important morals and strong family values to the forefront.
  • The show features strong female characters like Tia and Tamera, who promote natural beauty and intelligence, while dealing with relatable teenage issues.
  • Sister, Sister showcases the innocence and wholesomeness of the ’90s, tackling relatable themes such as peer pressure, family feuds, and struggles with identity, without being preachy.

Ahh, the ‘90s. A time when the word “twitter” simply conjured up images of cute little birds, and crop tops, baggy jeans, and plaid shirts were all the rage. But one of the best parts of this much-loved decade was the shows it spawned. Sister, Sister is one such show. Amidst other ’90s classics like Boy Meets World, Growing Pains, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sister, Sister stands out. Getting a hearty dose of ‘90s nostalgia doesn’t get much better than this one. It reflects so much of what was special about this period yet has many attributes that make it stand out from the crowd.

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What Was ‘Sister, Sister’ About?

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Image via ABC

Originally airing on ABC, Sister, Sister is a sitcom based around twin sisters, Tia Landry (Tia Mowry-Hardrict) and Tamera Campbell (Tamera Mowry-Housley). Adopted by different parents as babies, they later meet as teenagers in a department store of all places. After rocky beginnings, mainly between Tia’s quirky, carefree mom, Lisa (Jackee Harry), and Tamera’s traditional dad, Ray (Tim Reid), things begin to settle. Tia and Lisa move in to Ray and Tamera’s home and soon become a family – “a weird one, but a family nonetheless,” as Lisa puts it. But it’s this family dynamic that sets the show apart from the many other family sitcoms being churned out at the time.

Sitcoms like Home Improvement, Clarissa Explains It All, and Boy Meets World all followed the archetypal family picture — a married couple with kids. There was very little range of representation for the meaning of “family” on TV at this time. Enter Sister, Sister. This show brought an underrepresented family dynamic to the forefront of popular programming. Okay, so finding a twin you never knew existed at the mall and forming a new family from that may be at the extreme end of possible scenarios, but the motto of families come in all different forms is still very much a core aspect of the show. And in true ‘90s fashion, strong family values are felt throughout every episode. Whether it’s found in heart to hearts between Ray and Tamera, the twins’ protectiveness of each other, or Ray and Lisa setting aside their differences to co-parent, important morals are in the limelight. So, if you sometimes crave a big helping of warm and fuzzy, you’ll find it here.

‘Sister, Sister’ Has Strong Female Characters

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Image via ABC

Although all the characters are special and deserve a shout-out (please don’t go home Roger (Marques Houston), you’re too funny), the representation of strong female characters is especially prominent. Firstly, with the twins themselves. Tia and Tamera stand for what was great about the decade — young girls that didn’t need to have a heavy fascination with appearance. They promote a healthy, natural beauty. Of course, place them in the Instagram, filter world of today, and perhaps it’d be a different story. That’s not to say normal teenage appearance issues don’t crop up from time to time. We can’t forget the time Tamera gets a new look and gains access to the “popular” crowd, much to the dismay of studious Tia. Or the time when Tia gets a pimple right before a first date, urging her sister to take her place in what is one of the many twin-switching hijinks throughout the series.

But besides appearance, they are both incredibly smart and witty young women. While Tia is the more book-smart of the two, always acing tests and aiming to go to Harvard, Tamera carries a great deal of emotional intelligence and savvy. Sure, she can have a goofy façade at times, but when it comes down to it, she is perfectly capable of handling herself in even the toughest of situations. For example, getting snowed in at a ski lodge. While everyone else crumbles around her with worry, she takes charge of the situation and remains the voice of reason – good going considering she faked a fall to try to get out of going in the first place.

Then there’s Tia’s mom, Lisa. This single mother is fierce, fiery, and full of oddities. But although her many quirks may annoy Tamera’s stubborn dad, Ray, they only make the viewer love her more. Owning Fashions by Lisa, she is often seen working on her next garment or running her stall at the mall. However, when she’s not killing it as a businesswoman, she is showering her daughter with love. In Season 4, Episode 15, we see her donning a hairnet to work as the cafeteria lady at the twins’ school. But with Tia being a typical teenager, this doesn’t sit too well with her, and her embarrassment soon gets the better of her, causing her to blurt out to her mom that school is now “ruined.” When it is revealed that Lisa took this second job just to be able to afford a necklace her daughter loved, we see the lengths she goes to out of love. Lisa is the perfect example of a woman who juggles both career and motherhood seamlessly.

‘Sister, Sister’ Shows the Wholesomeness of the ’90s

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Image via ABC

While substantial characters are the backbone of the series, the relatable themes also play a strong role. Looking back, the ‘90s seem like a little slice of innocence and perfection. The majority of teenagers’ problems that were depicted in shows often pertained to family feuds, boy trouble, and peer pressure, not the massive mental health crisis and overload of technology that plague the generation today. What makes the exploration of themes in Sister, Sister different to many of the other TV shows of the time though is the way in which they’re handled.

There are very few “after school special” type talks here. Instead, we see Tia and Tamera deal with their issues mainly on their own. In Season 4, Episode 17, Tamera goes to meet someone she believes is a professional photographer for a modeling shoot. Once at his home, she’s asked to change into an extremely revealing bathing suit. We see her going into the bathroom to do this before coming out to refuse and give him a piece of her mind. We also see both girls refuse to let boys take advantage of them, stand up against friends that shoplift, and step away from peer pressure to smoke, after dabbling in it a little. And harder-hitting issues surrounding adoption, class system, as well as gender equality are also tackled throughout its series run. As well as all this, it’s an authentic glimpse into the problems that arise out of being a twin. Struggles with identity are a constant theme throughout, but one of the strongest episodes relating to this theme comes in Season 4. Tia decides she wants to get her own job; however, Tamera is under the impression they were looking to be hired together. Several conversations between the two ensue, leading Tia to eventually go into a daydream of them as old ladies, having never gone their separate ways. While many of us will never know the twin experience, the portrayal of feeling suffocated while still wanting to keep the close connection is done perfectly. The show tends to take the relatable approach in tackling issues, rather than going the preachy route that is often the easier road to take.

Sister, Sister accurately depicts a family of unique personalities, who are all taking their own paths in life, while still maintaining that strong bond between them. It is both comfort TV and a top-quality comedy. But above all else, it is the ideal time machine to visit the glorified decade that is the ‘90s.

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By mrtrv

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