What’s Happening, Among The First Black Sitcoms to Depict Black Teenage Boys in a Positive Way

Written by Jae Jones

What’s Happening, was one of the funniest and most respectable African-American shows that first aired during in 1975. The show was different right from the start with 3 teenage African-American boys who were showed to be well-mannered and behaved on television. The shows stars were as Freddy “Rerun” Stubbs, Haywood Nelson as , and as Roger “Raj” Thomas.


Rerun played by Fred Berry is an overweight, funny, comedic young man. He often wore a red beret and matching suspenders. He is often teased by his friends for being overweight and unintelligent. However, he didn’t let that stop him from having fun and eating. However, despite his weight Rerun is a very skilled dancer, and is often entering dance contests or trying to get on TV commercials.


Dwayne, played by Dwayne Nelson is the youngest member of the group. Dwayne has a good-natured demeanor and suffers from debilitating shyness and acute fear of the dark.  He is always dribbling a basketball, and known for his famous words, Hey, Hey, Hey!


Raj, played by Ernest Nelson is an intelligent, well-mannered young man who sports large horn-rimmed glasses and aspires to be a writer. Raj was always the level-headed one in the group, only one person was always outsmarting him and that was his baby sister Dee.

The Co-stars were Danielle Spencer, Roger’s younger sister Dee; Mabel King played Roger’s and Dee’s mother; and Shirley Hemphill who played the waitress Shirley at Rob’s Place, the diner where all the kids hung out after school. Most of the episodes on the show focused on the goals of the guys which included meeting and dating girls, finding afterschool jobs, and planning for their future. Occasionally, there were episodes with the boys trying to raise money to help Raj’s hard working divorced mom.




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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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