‘Moesha’ Creators Changed The Setting In Season 3 To Attract White Advertisers
One of the best things about Moesha was being able to relate to an African American teenager’s coming-of-age story. The premise hadn’t been seen on primetime television before. Moesha and her crew went to a local neighborhood public school and had a hangout spot at a local black-owned restaurant. But viewers got the shock of their lives fun when she was transferred to a private school in season 3.
While the storyline centered around her parents forcing her to attend another school to separate Moesha and her boyfriend, it was later revealed that the decision was strategic on the move of UPN network executives and their quest to expand their advertising dollars. The network pressured the show’s creators to come up with creative ways to attract more white advertisers.
Moesha was transferred to a different high school in season 3
By season 2 of the show, Moesha was eager to date. Though she’d had a few mishaps in teenage love during the premiere season, it wasn’t until she met Q, played by rapper Fredro Starr, that she found her first love.
Moesha and Q were from opposite ends of the track: she was a straight-A student with college-bound dreams and editor of the school newspaper -while Q was a perceived bad boy from New York with no intention of going to college and instead was betting on a career in hip hop. Needless to say, Moesha’s father was not happy about their relationship. But she and Q refused to be apart.
Usually a goodie two-shoes, Moesha began sneaking out of the house, staying out past curfew, cutting class, and anything else she could do in order to be with Q. The final straw was when Q was caught in Moesha’s bedroom. After realizing no form of punishment would keep Q and Moesha apart, her parents decided that something more drastic had to take place.
By the end of season 2, it was decided that Moesha would finish out her year at Crenshaw High and begin her junior year at Bridgewood Academy.
‘Moesha’ creators say the change in schools was to attract white advertisers
The change in the academic setting took viewers some time to adjust to. Though Moesha still had close ties to her friends at Crenshaw, the introduction of new characters and with her classmates at Bridgewood seemed forced.
As it turns out, the switch was due to pressure from the network as they struggled to attract white advertising dollars. In a 1998 interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, creator and producer Sara V. Finney and Vida Spears explained that executives at UPN were satisfied with the show’s ratings but not its advertising portfolio.
They came up with the idea to have Moesha transfer from an all-Black and brown high school to a largely white private high school, where Moesha’s plight now involves issues of class, family, and peer acceptance. The creators did so hesitantly, and it showed through the lack of receptiveness from viewers.
To keep the audience loyal to the series, much of the season centered around Moesha bouncing back and forth between her two friend groups at Crenshaw and Bridgewood, struggling to merge the two worlds.
After their advertisements failed to extend outside of the urban market, the original setting was reinstated
Though the ratings with Moesha remained consistent, the episodes centered around her at Bridgewood had a lackluster response. The Sentinel noted that the new setting did not help expand advertising dollars as the network hoped. By the middle of season 4, Moesha was transferred back to Crenshaw after finally coming to a truce with her overprotective father.
The show lasted an additional two seasons, well into Moesha’s sophomore year of college. It was not renewed following the end of the sixth season.