The Greatest Storyline Arc In Martin History


It’s time to break down the greatest storyline arc in Martin history.

When Martin debuted in the late summer of 1992, I was heading into my junior year of high school. I didn’t start watching until a few episodes into the first season, but immediately, it was a go-to. A lot of my friends were watching Seinfeld, but I was watching Martin, and soon, more of my friends started to tune in as well.

We’d rehash the entire episode the next day at school and were amazed at how far Martin Lawrence could push the envelope on broadcast television. Martin was edgy. To its audience, it was about as edgy/funny as you could get without watching Def Comedy Jam on HBO.

Martin hasn’t been forgotten. It’s on syndication all the time. But I do feel that because Lawrence’s star doesn’t shine as brightly as it used to, it’s not given the credit it deserves for creating the blueprint that many shows decided to use for the next several years.

The show was great at looking at young relationships; seeing the things that can tear them up as well as what mended them. Martin was always letting his pride get in the way, acting the fool, and because of it, always apologizing.

Let’s go back in time to February 4, 1993. It’s the first episode of a three episode arc titled “Break Up Parts 1-3.” The first episode is set around Valentine’s Day. And yes, this is about breaking up and making up.

Featured in the three episodes are Richard Pryor, David Alan Grier, Billy Dee Williams, Christopher Duncan (who later played Braxton on The Jamie Foxx Show), and Lark Voorhies (yes, Lisa Turtle). Talk about a powerhouse of stardom in 1993. And damn, Lark is fine.

(In what was a fairly innovative idea, before the third episode, fans could call in and vote to let producers know who should be the one to initiate them getting back together. I have no idea if the votes were taken into consideration, but based on how the episodes were written, I’m sure they knew that fans would be voting for Martin to do the making up.)

Break Up Part 1

During many episodes, before the intro was played, Lawrence’s character Martin Payne would start talking with a radio studio as his backdrop. He was a talk radio DJ, the insane Martin Payne. Sometimes he’d do a soliloquy. Here, he interviewed Richard Pryor, who was his comedic hero. Non-Pryor fans would have no idea what they were even talking about, but it had to be cool for Lawrence to have him on his show. Pryor was nearly inaudible.

Like I mentioned, it’s Valentine’s Day and Martin and his girlfriend Gina (played by Tisha Campbell) are drinking white wine. Gina wants her Valentine’s Day gift and Martin pulls out an envelope.

Martin: You remember when we rapped about going to the Bahamas for the weekend?

Gina: Oh Martin, you didn’t!

Martin: Hell no I didn’t. No girl. Instead, we’re going to a place that’s just as good Gina.

Gina: Chicago, Martin? Chicago in February is just as good as the Bahamas?

Martin: Let me tell you something girl, it don’t matter where we go. We ain’t never leaving the hotel room.

Martin didn’t shy away from sex. In fact, they jumped into it crotch-side up.

It’s Gina’s turn to give him his gift. Martin thinks it’s a big screen TV. Instead, it’s a statue of someone’s hind quarters. And this isn’t anyone’s hind quarters. It might’ve been Beyonce’s.

Gina’s nervous that Martin doesn’t like it, but Martin tells her that he does. But of course the next day, when his boys Tommy (RIP Thomas Mikal Ford) and Cole (Carl Anthony Payne II who was Cockroach on The Cosby Show) come around, they tease him and he tells them that he doesn’t really like the gift. Cole thinks Gina’s friend Pam (Tichina Arnold), who he has a crush on, was the model for the butt statue.

They decide to play with the statue of the butt singing, “Doin’ da butt,” and dancing with it, until Gina and Pam enter the room.

Rather than take the opportunity to clear it up with his lady, Martin decides to double down on frontin’ for his boys. He tells her that she should accept him for who he is. He doesn’t want her to turn him into a bougie, snob like her tight father. Of course, his boys are cracking up laughing, egging him on.

Gina: What did you just say?

Martin: Come on baby. It’s not like I’m lying. Your father is so tight he can back into a wall and suck out a brick.”Mama Payne

Of course, Gina has to clap back and goes after Martin’s mother.

Gina: Oh yeah? Well why don’t you stop trying to turn me into your mother?

Martin: You could never be like my mother.

Gina: You’re right about that Martin, I could never grow a mustache.

Yes, Martin’s mother has a mustache because it’s one of the many characters Martin plays. And let’s be real; one of your aunties has a nice ‘stache.

Then they start dissing each other. Martin makes fun of Gina for her overly muscular ass.

(Gina’s ass is ahead of its time by the way. Kim Kardashian may have watched this show as a little kid.)

Gina makes fun of Martin’s underly muscular stomach. Pam says the butt statue kind of looks like Martin.

Martin finally kicks Gina and Pam out of his apartment, telling Gina, “Get a steppin’.” Gina says the bus trip to Chicago is off. Martin does her one better and says the relationship is off.

Moral: Don’t front for your friends, especially if they’re single. They don’t have as much skin in the game.

In the very next scene, Martin is crying, thinking about the memories. He’s still upset that Gina made fun of his mother’s mustache and decides to draw one on a picture of Gina.

It’s been three days since the breakup and Martin’s boys come to break him out. Tommy tries to tell Martin that Gina still loves him. Martin angrily grabs Tommy by the collar of his jacket and screams at him.

Martin: Damnit Tommy! I keep hearing you hollering about Gina. When you refer to that woman, you say that little light skinded ***** who ripped out my heart, put me in her mouth, chewed me up, and spit me out.”

As much as I hate the usage of that word, no one was saying that on broadcast TV. Also, Tommy is usually the voice of reason, or as Martin called it, bald-headed reasoning.

Martin was hysterically crying, remembering a handkerchief that was once Gina’s, and then said, “I love-did-ed her.” He was stuttering because he was crying. Love-did-ed is great.

Martin’s crying was strong here, but it wasn’t as strong as on the first Martin episode ever, in which he and Gina were about to breakup (surprise) because they kept telling each other’s secrets. Gina said that Martin cried at Beauty and the Beast. Martin was frontin’ for his boys. And then he told Gina to step. She took one step and he caved.

Tommy tells Martin that he just needs to apologize and lays him down on the couch. Martin asks for love and they give him a hug.

Moral: Sometimes, you do have to listen to your boys, especially bald-headed reasoning.

While Martin’s way of coping is crying, Gina’s is cleaning because she doesn’t have the money to go shopping. Pam tells Gina to just get over it. Gina’s waiting for the phone to ring. Pam thinks they’re too different to make it. Gina thinks that’s what makes them work. She decides to head over to Martin’s.

Pam: You’re a fool Gina.

Gina: That’s right Pam, and you’re celibate.

Damn, Gina. (Wait, that’s Martin’s catchphrase. My bad.)

Moral: Pam might be a hater.

Martin is dancing to and singing “Have You Seen Her” by the Chi-lites. It’s always about the slow jams. Gina knocks at his door. Gina says he looks terrible. He tells her that he’s been partying and he’s good. Frontin’ again.

Gina wants to talk. They both apologize to each other and decide to kiss and make up, with Martin enjoying the melons, which is what he calls Gina’s lips. Martin says they shouldn’t let something like a statue break them apart. Gina agrees, but then wonders where the statue is.

Martin tells her not to look in the box where he’s tossed a few of her items in, statue included. Of course she looks, and the butt statue is split in half at the crack of the ass.

Gina: You just threw my stuff in a box like you were going to throw it out for garbage?

Martin: Look Gina, alright, I was upset, I was mad.

Gina: No Martin, you’re not mad. You’re thoughtless and cruel.

Martin: Aw man, here we go with the big words Gina, with the big words.

Their fight continues with Gina saying that Martin can’t make fun of the things he doesn’t understand about her and it ends with Martin telling her to shut up. Gina ends by saying that maybe they are too different and saying that she’d rather be lonely than unhappy. Credits.

Moral: You take two steps forward, I take two steps back. We come together ’cause opposites attract. Or maybe they don’t. Word to MC Skat Kat.

Break Up Part 2

The episode starts with Martin showing Tommy and Cole home videos of him and Gina. They’re nearly passed out until Martin wakes them. They only start paying attention when the video shows Gina teasing Martin by taking off her bathing suit, before Martin quickly turns it off.

Martin: Yo Tommy, you ain’t see nothing did you man?

Tommy: No, no, no, no.

Martin: I ain’t think so. Cole, you ain’t see nothing did you man?

Cole: No. No.

Martin: You sure you ain’t see nothing?

Cole: Never saw that.

Martin: Okay, cool. Because if you did, I’ma have to kill you man.

LeBron JeromeTommy and Cole break Martin down and take him to the club.

Moral: Don’t go to the club. Only Jerome goes to the club.

Except, he’s not in any of the three episodes. I feel like it’s a missed opportunity. Can you imagine Martin getting terrible advice from Jerome about the mackin’ game? Bringing up Jerome also gives me the chance to share LeBron James’ Halloween costume. He dressed up as Romey Rome.

Pam and Gina are packing up a box of all Martin’s stuff. Pam’s trying to set Gina up with her cousin Leon Lonnie Love, played by the great David Alan Grier. He’s a reverend. She calls him and sets it up the date while Gina is being frantic.

And really, isn’t it too soon? Pam isn’t being a good friend here.

While at the club, Martin isn’t having it. A fan of his radio show walks up to him and hits on him. He helps her take her jacket off only to find out that she has a lot of chest hair. She says the Europeans find it very sexy. He says it’s not and tells her to shave her knuckles.

And then, Shai’s “If I Ever Fall In Love” plays and Martin gets into his feelings again.

Martin starts to cry while hearing the song. The great Lark Voohries asks him if he’s feeling okay. Damn, Lark is fine.

Please don’t Google Search pictures of her now. There’s definitely something wrong. I said don’t search.

(In real life, Voorhies and Lawrence were once a couple. The rumor is that Voorhies first learned that Lawrence was engaged to someone else when he announced it on TV, though I’m not sure about the timing of everything. Was he still with her at the time? Was he with two people at once? It’s A Thin Line Between Love And Hate.)

Voorhies’ character says she’s just broken up with her boyfriend too. Rather than be rub-a-dubbin’ up at the club, Voorhies’ character would rather be at home watching the Detroit Pistons play, which is music to Martin’s ears. He introduces himself and she says her name is Nicole.

She’s a sucker for an emotional Martin and cancels her plans with friends to go to dinner with him after he does his best Drake impression. Actually, Drake wasn’t around back then. When I say Drake, what I really mean is being emo.

Moral: I guess going to the club is fine if you can pull Lark Voorhies.

Pam’s cousin Leon is taking Gina to Chez Maurice which is a restaurant Martin used to take her to. Reverend Leon Lonnie Love is a bit of a perv.

Of course, Martin takes Nicole to the same Chez Maurice and hilarity ensues.

Gina: But it’s a school night. Doesn’t your friend her have to finish her book report?

Martin: I guess we have to go there. You’re right. I’m going to let you be alone; you and your uncle.

To be fair, Leon is older than Gina. And he does have that uncle look. I’m with Martin here.

Martin tells Gina that Nicole is his new baby, which is what he used to call Gina. Nicole tells him, “You go boy.” Martin’s catchphrase was always, “You go girl,” to Gina. Gina’s pissed. Damn, Lark is fine.

Martin: So, you a religious man?

Reverend Leon Lonnie Love: Oh, amen brother.

Martin: So I guess that means you won’t be doing the nasty until you get married. Am I right?

Reverend Leon Lonnie Love: Oh now, that goes without saying brother. Because as you know, I’m beyond mere carnalities. Because the flesh can be so weak.

Martin: Well you know, if it’s that weak brother, maybe you should get yourself an implant.

Eh, it only took one and a half episodes before we got a dick joke.

Gina and Martin start arguing while the rev starts choking. Martin gives him the Heimlich, but then roughs him up while doing it. He saved a brother’s life, but got his shots in too.

Moral: Make sure you have more than one go-to spot.

Back at Martin’s crib, he thinks he’s screwed it up with Nicole. She enjoys the fact that he’s still not over his girl and she’s now in love with him. Credits.

Break Up Part 3

While in bed, Martin asks Gina to move over. The ever lovely Nicole says she can call Gina and ask. Martin says he was dreaming.

Nicole: You still love her don’t you?

Martin: Ya, but every time me and you have sex, I love her a little bit less.

Nicole: Martin, we have not had sex once.

Martin: Alright, but damn, sorry alright. I couldn’t because of Gina. But if anyone ever asks you, tell ‘em it’s because we didn’t have any protection, alright?

Nicole tells Martin she’s also still in love with her ex-boyfriend. And while she told Martin she loves her, she doesn’t really. He says he doesn’t love her either. Damn, Lark is fine.

Moral: Lark is fine.

Nicole says that Martin should apologize to Gina, but he says he won’t. Nicole leaves his apartment only to run into Sheneneh. Sheneneh thinks that Nicole is just another girl Martin dropped.

Sheneneh: That’s what they all say rejected girl. So go on home and don’t let me catch you back around here again or I’ll throw you down the incinerator. And let me tell you something, alright? Weave hair? It stinks when it burns.

Nicole: No, no, no, you see, this is my hair.

Sheneneh: You got Indian in your family?

Nicole pretends to want to fight Sheneneh and Sheneneh screams and runs away.

Lawrence played Sheneneh, Jerome, Mama Payne, King Beef, Roscoe, Otis, and Dragon Fly Jones throughout the series. But in these three episodes, we only saw Sheneneh. King Beef could’ve rocked each and everyone of our worlds before dancing. But nope, it was just Sheneneh.

Pam asks Gina how her date with Leon was. Gina wasn’t too happy about it.

Gina: And guess who was there? Martin showed up with his new girlfriend.

Pam: Really, what does she look like?

Gina: Cute. Young. Real young.

Pam: So Martin went and got himself a young tenderoni. That dog.

Tenderoni is a word that is underutilized in this day and age. We need to bring it back.

Gina is about to leave her apartment and opens the door, only to see Michael, played by Christopher Duncan from The Jamie Foxx Show. He wants to borrow coffee. Who in the hell wants to borrow coffee?

Martin is back in the radio studio and Billy Dee Williams is a guest on the show. The producer, Shawn, played by Jon Gries, who was also Dylan McKay’s drug dealer on Beverly Hills, 90210 asks Billy Dee Williams a very peculiar question.

Shawn: Do you call yourself Billy Dee Williams because otherwise you’ll be known as William Dee Williams?

Though Shawn isn’t smart, that was a pretty good question. The answer is yes, right? Has to be.

Martin wants to make sure he has some 411 for the interview with Billy Dee. But remember, Billy Dee is the man.

Martin: I thought we’d talk about why you’re in town, charity work, and stuff like that.

Billy Dee: Martin, I detect in your vocal inflections, the tone of a man who’s going through a grave romantic crisis.

Martin starts to cry again.

Billy Dee: Am I correct?

Martin: How can you possibly know that…

Billy Dee: Martin, who are you talking to?

Martin: Billy Dee Williams!

Martin tells Billy Dee that he and Gina are both tired of apologizing. Billy Dee tells Martin he must apologize. Martin says no, because he has his pride. Billy tells him that he despises that word. Billy gets Martin to agree to apologize.

Moral: Pride is poison. And Billy Dee is the man.

Michael is very much like Gina in that he’s into art and is very sophisticated. Gina’s falling for him. Martin tries to call Gina to apologize, but she’s out with Michael.

Martin is back with his boys and he tells them how he feels. He asks Pam to come over for an emergency.

Pam: Dag Martin, I forgot how your hallway smelled. Okay, what is the emergency and what do you want?

Martin: Pam, I need you.

Pam: I know you’re horny and everything, but Gina is my best friend.

Martin: Please, alright, stop wishing.

Stop wishing is a good comeback. Great one, in fact.

Martin wants to know where Gina is, but Pam won’t tell. Pam caves and tells Martin and the boys that Gina is at Chez Maurice. Man, they really need another restaurant.

Gina and Michael are out at Chez Maurice and the garçon says that flowers were sent to her, but not by her date. Martin shows up in a suit and joins Gina and Michael at the table. Martin starts smoking a cigarette. Gina says she doesn’t smoke cigarettes and neither does Martin. Martin says that without her, he might as well smoke, get lung cancer, and die.

Michael introduces himself to Martin. Michael tells Martin what he’s going to do if he gets the chance with Gina. Martin can’t quite do what Michael can do, but he can do things that Gina enjoys. Martin thinks he might be too late though.

Martin: I’ll go, because if I stay, I’ll just get in your way. So I’ll go, but I’ll think of you, every step of the way. Bittersweet memories Gina, that’s all I’m taking with me. So goodbye, don’t you cry. We both know, I’m not what you need.

And I, will always love you. And I, will always love you. And I, will always love you.

(Praise Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston.)

Gina jumps into Martin’s arms. Martin apologizes. Gina apologizes. They start to makeout and damn near rip each other’s clothes off. Credits.

Moral: Apologizing works, especially when you get creative.

What a brilliant storyline that was. Damn, Lark is fine.

RIP Thomas Mikal Ford

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