Thursday, May 22, 2008

TBG's 2007-08 TV Report Card: Everybody Hates Chris

Grade: C-

Thoughts: If I know my readership, I'm gonna make an educated guess and assume few of you have ever seen this show. Still, you might remember that it had a little bit of buzz prior to its debut on the old UPN network back in 2005. Its first season was deservedly praised as one of the most accurate television depictions of Black family life in recent memory. As with most promising African-American themed shows, however, the networks have a way of manipulating them into a standard slapstick formula in hopes of reaching a wider audience (white folk) by presenting Blacks in the same way they've been shown on TV since the jive-time '70s.

The third season shakily followed the show's original premise (comedian Chris Rock relives his childhood in Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy community, providing narration for each episode) but the once-dysfunctional charm and chemistry between the cast members was inexplicably de-emphasized. Instead, nearly every episode featured "Chris" (Tyler James Williams) getting himself into a dilly of a pickle with a secondary storyline, given about two minutes to develop, involving one of his parents or siblings.

And, after three years, the only interesting character, besides Chris, is his tightwad father "Julius" (Terry Crews). The other two kids are no longer cute enough to mask their crappy acting (same thing happened to all the Cosby kids), while Tichina Arnold's "Rochelle" character is the single most annoying presence in all of entertainment. She's essentially regressed into a louder version of the "Pam" harpy she played on Martin 15 years ago and become an embarrassing stereotype of the sassy Black mother.

Season's Best Episode: "Everybody Hates the First Kiss"…sometimes Chris can win, as he manipulates his way into a party in a pretty funny attempt to kiss his grade school sweetheart. The strong back-up story involving a $5 debt owed to Chris' brother Drew was also effective.

Season's Worst Episode: "Everybody Hates Being Cool"…stop me when the clichés become too much. Chris is suspended from school for smoking, but can't tell his parents! His kid sister finds out and demands hush money (just like Dee from What's Happening)! Rochelle is jealous of a gift given to her husband by an old flame…how far will she go to display her displeasure?!

In or Out for Next Season: In. The move to Friday nights pretty much ensures that the fourth season will be the final season, so I'll watch for a few weeks to see how they shake things up with Chris in a new school.

1 comment:

Josh said...

"If I know my readership, I'm gonna make an educated guess and assume few of you have ever seen this show."


By the way, my dad shared with me the other day how excited he is that In Living Color is back on the air.