Growing To Appreciate Steve Harvey’s Shuckey Jivey Charm On Family Feud

Steve Harvey (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Steve Harvey (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

I like to pretend that, after Steve Hightower went the way of Judy Winslow, Steve Harvey went to live in a cave with post-Emancipation of Mimi Mariah Carey, only to reemerge as the shucky jivey host of Family Feud back 2010. In a perfect world, nothing else—not the Cedric The Entertainer co-signing and certainly not that shirtless photoshoot—happened before or aside from that. Everything else was all a dream nightmare.

You see, Mr. Harvey’s He Man/Woman-Guiding steelo doesn’t exactly jibe with my non-medieval view of the world. I will never grasp why wives, girlfriends, and a metric fucktonne of other answer-seeking ladies flock to this delightfully antiquated, twice-divorced dealer of cavemanly marriage mores for life and love advice. Does bullshit sound better when delivered with a smile? Are Fuckboy Philopsophers more believable when they look, dress, and act like the hookin’ and crookin’ preachers we you grew up with?

The world will never know.

But for all his charlatanly ways, I like him on Family Feud. It’s like watching your favorite old, quick-talking drinky-churchy uncle tap dance around the living room in a 39-button suit with his favorite moonshine flask. Here in 1998, Virginia, I have been subjected to more Steve Harvey than necessary, thanks to Mom’s love of horrible television (she also loves Rachel Ray). Basically, I’ve warmed up to him: I’d play Spades with Family Feud Steve before I allowed Talk Show Steve to make eye contact with me. Trust me, this is progress.


Seeing Family Feud Steve hoot, howl, and ham it up as two families compete for $20,000 and the chance to return to Steve’s world the next day has been more enjoyable than I expected. My immediate reaction when his face comes on screen is to whip out my best surly Harriet Winslow scowl. But I find myself watching. And laughing.

Occasionally, Mom and I shout out answers together.

He is likable here. Gone are the cavemanly marriage mores and the woman-fixing. Okay, so that inner misogynistic grandpa leaks out every now and then. But…it’s not a total turn off.

I appreciate that he goes from black-ish Black to Antebellum sharecropper Black in the presence of a Black family. My favorite episodes involve boisterous Negro families. Guaranteed entertainment. Because we da bess. Sure, he’s animated with every family. That’s part of the job. But in front of Moms Mabely and her four kids? He’s hugging, dancing, cleaning collards and cracking jokes. And his televised Blacktivities warm my Black ass heart.

I have seen this Family Feud clip at least two dozen times. Steve’s question: Name something that follows the word ‘pork.’ Sounds simple enough. The first time I watched this, though, I damn near choked to death from laughter. It gets mo’ better and mo’ Blacker as it progresses. This is among the most outlandishly Black families I’ve seen on television. I would annihilate chicken wings and drink brown liquor with them. I know someone like each of these family members, even the clip’s star, whose confidence was impressive. They, like their shucky jivey host, are a joy to watch. We so special. So special, so special, so special. And extra. And I appreciate our ugly, our cartoonish, and our beautiful. Even Steve’s.

Alexander Hardy is a wordsmith, mental health advocate, dancer, lupus survivor, and co-host of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Alexander does not believe in snow or Delaware.

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I'm not a Harvey stan, and I've never seen an episode of Family Feud with him as the host, but I Do know that he got a daytime Emmy for that show. FF was dead before him, and all the previous hosts were utter failures. I give Steve props for reviving the show. On another note: Happy Friday! Double shots of tequila all around.