Long before D.L. Hughley’s parenting was dragged into a back-and-forth with Mo’Nique, the comedian was one of few depicting Black fathers in a positive light on television.
During the ’90s Black lead sitcoms depicting families with involved fathers were few and far in between. With the exception of “Family Matters” and “Moesha,” shows centered on middle-class Black families were a rarity amongst the myriad of stereotypical Black tropes of broken families depicted in the media.
Enter “The Hughleys.” The show starring Hughley, Elise Neal as his wife, and two child stars, Dee Jay Daniels and Ashley Monique Clark, followed a Black family adjusting to their new upper middle-class life in a predominantly white community tucked away in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley. Hughley wrote and produced the show, which was loosely inspired by his real-life.
Speaking with “Entertainment Tonight” co-host Kevin Frazier, Hughley said knowing that the show still holds relevancy two decades later is proof of how well he clearly told a story so many people can relate to. “Well, I actually lived in Los Angeles my whole life, I grew up here in L.A. and I didn’t even know white people lived here until I saw ‘The Price is Right,’” Hughley joked.
Opening up more about the show, which ran for four seasons between 1998 to 2002, Hughley shared that he “moved from L.A. to West Hills, and I was — it was the first time I’d ever lived around anybody but Black people, but what I learned was it was a community and we all were starting off together.” He continued, “I would tell these stories to my manager, and one day he said ‘That’s a show,’” of how the sitcom came to fruition.
On social media the accomplished author said that “Playing an ‘iconic TV Dad’ was an amazing opportunity and opened up so many doors, it’s an experience I’ll never forget, but nothing compares to being a father to my 3 inspirations for the show.” The post, which has thousands of likes on IG, included tags for his daughters Ryan and Tyler, and son Kyle.
Hughley’s TV wife Neal also fondly reflected on the show’s impact in a comment that read, “This beautiful!!! And deserving of what u created bro!! I know u don’t wanna say it was what the show was, but it was GROUNDBREAKING MUST WATCH TV, happy father’s days! @realdlhughley”
Other fans made mention of never “missing an episode,” and it being their favorite. And while years have gone by since the “King of Comedy” starred in a television show, he shared that he is again ready to flex his acting chops on the small screen with a reboot of “The Hughleys.”
“We have a deal with Fox and we’re working on the second script, which will be another version of who I am now.,” he said. “You know, like with a gay daughter who’s getting married, and an autistic son who likes white women, and having a radio show that’s controversial. I need to have something to say, and this makes me feel that creative drive that ‘The Hughleys’ did.”
Speaking of controversy, the standup comedian found himself in a heated war of words with comedian Mo’Nique following a discrepancy during a May 28 gig in Detroit. “The Parkers” actress publicly attacked Hughley’s reputation, his ability to protect his daughters, and more in several social media posts, including an IG Live.
At one point Hughley’s eldest daughter Ryan, deeply offended by her sister’s sexual trauma being thrown into the feud, interjected to admonish Mo’Nique for being “deliberately mean and hurtful to two Black women who have nothing to do with this conversation.”
The comedian would go on to offer a public apology to Hughley’s children and his wife, though she stood her ground in stating that she meant every word she said about her brother in comedy.