Some hurt takes some time to heal from. Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph is speaking on the heartbreak she experienced after the news broke that Moesha was being canceled by the network. But what was the most heartbreaking of all was both how and when the series, in her opinion, was over with. According to the actress, the network wasn’t seeing it for a Black man’s character and tried to destroy it.
Moesha, a popular sitcom that ran for six seasons on UPN, starred R&B superstar Brandy as the titular character, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Countess Vaughn, and more. The show proved to be a rating winner for most of its run on television. But by the time Moesha arrived at the sixth season, things changed within the ratings department, and the network decided not to bring the show back for a seventh season. Fans of the sitcom were undoubtedly shocked and disappointed at the decision of its cancellation for many reasons. First, it’s never fun for viewers to become fully invested in a show, only to be left with no conclusions.
Unfortunately for Moesha viewers, they were left with a cliffhanger on the show’s season finale. And although rumors swirled that there would be some sort of answers to the cliffhangers addressed in its spin-off, The Parkers, it never surfaced.Noticeably, the story arc and tone of Moesha started to change as the seasons progressed. First, producers decided to throw Moesha fans for a loop when they added that Dorian (played by Brandy’s real-life brother Ray J), believed initially to be Moesha’s cousin, was really her half-brother. This is because her father, Frank Mitchell (played by actor William Allen Young), had an extramarital affair during his previous marriage.
Not only did that addition to the storyline shock fans and the “family” on-screen, but members of the cast were just as shocked and none too happy about it either. Sheryl Lee Ralph, who played Moesha’s mother “Dee Mitchell,” expressed on her episode of TV One’s Uncensored that it was heartbreaking for her.”It broke my heart,” said Sheryl Lee Ralph. The NAACP Image Award-nominated actress explained that the series “filled such a void for people when it came to great images of family. Black American family.” But the decision to turn the patriarch of the family into a “liar” and demonize him was a confusing and disappointing decision on the network’s part.
Actor William Allen Young shared his sentiments that the cast members “literally did not know why we were messing with this African-American man to literally unravel him in a way where you didn’t need to.” Both Sheryl Lee Ralph and William Allen Young tried their hardest to get the producers to change their minds but ultimately could not sway them. Thus, they took their upset to the screen. The scene proved to be an emotional and heavy one while filming for both the cast and crew.
According to Sheryl Lee Ralph, it was at that moment she realized that she wouldn’t be returning to the series for another season. “That was hard for me,” she admitted. “I remember doing that scene knowing that I wasn’t going to be back with the show anymore.” UPN’s decision to cancel the series was reportedly due to its decline in ratings. However, the news was still shocking to members of the cast. Actor Marcus T. Paulk, who played Moesha’s younger brother and Sheryl Lee Ralph’s son “Myles Mitchell,” also expressed that it was heartbreaking.
During an interview with Comedy Hype, Paulk likened the feeling to “almost like your dog dying or something.” Brandy also spoke up about the show’s cancellation during an episode of Keke Palmer’s short-lived talk show on BET, Just Keke. The Grammy Award-winning singer revealed that she had no idea what happened and expressed her sadness for fans who had unanswered questions. “I don’t know what happened and I feel so bad because so many of the fans are mad about that.” The singer continued stating, “That’s not the way you end a show after six years.”
However, fans have been looking forward to a potential reboot. Members of the cast that were still living all appeared on an episode of The Real in 2017 to share that they would all absolutely sign on for a reboot. As recently as October 2021, Brandy shared that they are still in the talking stage. During an interview with the New York Times Brandy stated, “Yes, there are still talks about that because I feel that we owe it to the fans, because it was a cliffhanger.”
Despite the show ending, Sheryl Lee Ralph has recently seen a surge in her career. The actress won her first Emmy back in September and became only the second Black actress to win for “Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.”