Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Robert Carlson

Second Advisor

Dr. John Hafer

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Hilt

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Michael Scherer


Reality of stereotypes and the portrayal of Blacks in television programming have become topics for political and social discourse within the field of mass communication. This study presents data on the portrayal of Blacks in network television situation comedies. It investigates perceptions of occupational roles, income, education, and living lifestyles in Black sitcoms for the network seasons of 1995- 2000. The first sub-hypothesis examined whether Blacks were portrayed in situation sitcoms as managerial professionals rather than service related non-professionals. Specific findings of this study indicated that Blacks were more often portrayed in the selected 1995- 2000 television sitcoms as professionals rather than non­ professionals. The second sub-hypothesis stated that Blacks were portrayed as being of low socioeconomic status rather than high socioeconomic status. The three areas of income, education, and living lifestyles were used to evaluate this sub-hypothesis. Specific findings of this study indicated that Blacks were perceived as earning higher versus lower incomes and having higher versus lower levels of education. However, higher levels of education and income failed to translate into perceptions of higher living lifestyles for Blacks.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Communication and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements of the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2001 Cornell A. Beck.