By Brenda Alexander
There isn’t an episode of Martin that I don’t find hilarious. The show has classic episodes and one-liners: from Pam’s buckshots to Tommy’s lack of employment, Martin was the classic fool.
Aside from the comedy, Martin and Gina’s relationship made the show great. They were the original #RelationshipGoals for the young 20 somethings of the 90s. From the beginning, their on-screen chemistry was lit and remains unmatched since its time. You couldn’t tell me Martin and Gina weren’t a real thing. But if you wonder why such a successful show ended seemingly before its time, that may just be the reason why. According to Tisha Campbell-Martin, Lawrence took their on-screen love affair and tried to have life imitate art.
Long before the “Me Too” movement’s breaking news articles of Hollywood Executives and Music Moguls being accused of chasing their subordinates around office chambers and cornering them in trailers on set, at the height of Martin’s success, Campbell-Martin filed a sexual harassment complaint against Martin, HBO (the parent company of the FOX Network at the time) and the show producers (Lawrence was also an EP), claiming that Martin was an intimidating predator who caused an uncomfortable work environment.
JET Magazine profiled the lawsuit in their January 1997 issue. Campbell-Martin alleged the conditions she worked under were “intolerable” and that she “was subjected to repeated and escalating sexual harassment, sexual battery, verbal abuse and related threats to her physical safety” by Lawrence. She claimed that since the show’s first season, Lawrence asked her out on dates and she declined. As seasons progressed, she alleged that Lawrence’s behavior worsened with tantrums, outbursts and threats when he didn’t get his way on set. She even went as far as requesting that writers stop incorporating scenes featuring she and Lawrence in bed together, saying that Lawrence took their love scenes too far with excessive groping and using tongue while kissing against her wishes. Lawrence denied the allegations and accused Campbell-Martin of using him as a pawn for her contract negotiations.
In November of 1996, the talented costar left the show and its 6.7 million viewers, leaving the producers to find creative ways to film without her. Her absence called for episodes that were interesting, to say the least. There was the episode where Martin and Gina planned to go on a cruise but Gina misses the boat, leaving Martin with a crazed vacationer played by Lynn Whitfield, a promotional ploy on his movie A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. They even tried to highlight the supporting characters Pam, Tommy and Cole with episodes focused on them. The damage was done. Without Martin and Gina, the show’s ratings dipped and was subsequently canceled in its 5th season. Even in the final episode, Campbell-Martin refused to film with Lawrence. The two-part finale featured no scenes with either of them together, despite both appearing in the episode.
There was little backlash against Martin compared to what we see with the likes of Bill Cosby and others who have suffered tremendous career blows. Martin continued with box office successes post the Martin era with Bad Boys II, Life and the Big Momma’s House franchise. There has been minimal interaction between Martin and Tisha since, at least publicly. Co-stars have even alluded to there still being tension and tip-toeing around definitive answers. In interviews with the cast, the lawsuit was never mentioned and reunions were shot down. Maybe that’s the brilliant work of publicists or a gag order was in place, it’s hard to tell. The only cast member who touched on the ordeal at all is Tichina Arnold. In a 2012 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, she said,
“The lawsuit was a very interesting thing to be a part of. Tisha and I have been friends since childhood, and Martin and I are still friends. There’s a point where you have to be professional and a point where you have to be personal, and I was very well aware of separating the two, and Tisha always respected that. It was very weird, but I handled it as best I could.”
Fast forward to February 2018 and black twitter’s prayers were finally answered with a simple picture:
|Tichina Arnold, Martin Lawrence & Tisha Campbell-Martin
· What about the lawsuit and allegations?
· What come to Jesus moment took place in this meeting that warranted kisses on cheeks?
writing, wine and Jesus. Her work has been featured on Mayvenn’s Real
Beautiful blog and she is the co-author of the book Christmas 364: Be
Merry and Bright Beyond Christmas Night (available for purchase on
amazon). Follow her on IG @trulybrenda_ and trulybrenda.wordpress.com