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TV Series Review

Bernie Mac was a founding member of the "Kings of Comedy" stand-up troupe. His humor is famous for a rapid-fire delivery and gritty content. The latter shows up too often in his new Fox sitcom, The Bernie Mac Show. Playing a fictionalized version of himself, Mac raises his sister’s children while she is sidelined in a drug rehab center. He and his wife, Wanda (Kellita Smith), both have blossoming careers, but since hers is at AT&T and his is more relaxed, he’s stuck at home playing dad. And he’s not happy about it.

Likening the three kids (ages 5 to 13) to rats and cockroaches, he refers to them as "nasty, dirty, disease-carrying midgets." He makes it clear from the start, "In order for us to live as a family, we need to set down a few ‘house’ rules. First rule: It’s my house. Don’t get me wrong, this is our home. But it’s my house. Mi casa es mi casa. Second rule: In my house is all my stuff, and you are not to touch my stuff without my permission." And that’s his gentle tone.

Eldest sibling Vanessa gets in his face only to discover that Uncle Bernie won’t be played. Yelling through her closed bedroom door, Mac rants, "I’m gonna bust your head till the white meat shows." Turning to the camera and addressing America, he repeats what he just said. "And I ain’t ashamed that I said it and ain’t nobody gonna make me take it back." A few scenes later, he suggests that his outrageous feelings are shared by viewers ("When I say I want to kill those kids, you know what I mean. I don’t have to explain. Bernie Mac just say what you wanna say but can’t. That’s alright, I’m the bad guy. I’ll be the bad guy").

Uncle Bernie comes around from time to time with talk of family and love, but mostly he’s just out of control, as is his show. One episode depicts Mac teaching the frail middle child, Jordan, how to fight off bullies by becoming one. Another devotes itself to insulting African-American churches.

"I’m the perfect guest," Mac tells America. "Every week you invite me into your home, I tell a few jokes and I’m out. Total time: 21 minutes, tops. The point is, I don’t outstay my welcome." He already has.

Episodes Reviewed: Nov. 14, 21, 28, Dec. 5, 12, 2001

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Steven Isaac

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