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Why Everybody loves 'Everybody Hates Chris'

 

By Ronke Adeyemi

 

Due to short-sightedness within the rank and file of TV executives in Britain, home-grown Black shows are often non-existent.

 

So, many Black Britons often have to rely on their African American cousins to cheer them up.

 

From 'The Cosby' to the 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air' to 'My Wife and Kids.'

 

Enter Everybody Hates Chris; a comedy loosely based on the real life of the 41-year old superstar comedian, Chris Rock – described by some as arguably the funniest man alive.

 

Rock, the social commentator, political orator and racial activist hits us with a retrospective look at his childhood growing up in New York in the 80s.

 

‘Everyone Hates Chris’ is a sweet comedy which features the toothy one getting to grips with puberty, sibling rivalry, strict parents and good old fashioned school bullying  Think ‘The Wonder Years’, and the 70s Show and you pretty much have the gist of it.

 

Themed to a soundtrack of delectable 80s R&B and hip hop - way before gangsta rap reared its ugly head.

 

The Rock family consist of Rochelle (Tichina Arnorld), his super strict but loving mother who wears the skirt and trousers in the family, dad Julius (Terry Crews), who is a hard working and committed father, younger brother Drew who gets more girl action than him and his motor-mouth little sister Tonya.

 

We see the young, geeky Chris and his family moving into their new Bed-Stuy home in Brooklyn, which according to him was one step up from the projects.

 

The junior schools were so bad that he had to endure a long trip (two buses) to a school in Brooklyn Beach. He was also the only Black kid in the school and as he was not hip or cute he did not qualify to join the in-crowd and instead was terrorised by the school’s self-appointed bully.

 

However, Chris' inherent charm and sharp wit enable him to make new friends at school, such as Greg (Vincent Martella), another smart nice kid who can't fight.

 

As the family's "emergency adult," the young Chris is responsible for taking care of Drew (Tequan Richmond), his taller, more assured brother, as well as Tonya (Imani Hakin), the baby of the family, when his parents are working.

 

The comedy is both delightful and endearing.

 

Discovered by Eddie Murphy, Rock got his break on the hit show, ‘Saturday Night Live’ and 16 years on with over 20 films, shows, records and books, Rock represent a breath of fresh air in a society that has become obsessed with celebrity.

 

The British audience seems to be warming up to the show.

 

Channel Five, the current home of the show may be the poor child of the country’s terrestrial TV stations, but Everybody Hates Chris has almost doubled its audience.

 

The station normally attracts around 1.1 million viewers in the 8pm to 9pm slot on Sunday nights. But the first episode of the sitcom attracted 2 million viewers.

 

As a celebrated stand up comedian and TV host, Rock has managed to appeal to mainstream America while remaining true to himself and his real fan base of African Americans.

 

As Rock pointedly reflects back, his younger self is set to discover what his family already knows - Chris' sharp, scrappy nature is going to take him places.

 

Ok his acting might not win him any awards, but in terms of raising people’s consciousness within entertainment he is right up there with the gods.

 

Everyone hates Chris? I don’t think so.

 

Ronke Adeyemi is a journalist and Media Consultant. She currently works for the Commonwealth Film Festival in Manchester, England.

 

E-mail comments and ideas to editor@thenewblackmagazine.com

 

 

 




 

Rocking the Family House in Britain

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