Culture > Television

Everybody Hates Chris

Television | The show based on the childhood of comedian Chris Rock deals with racial issues, but the agonies of childhood are universal

Issue: "New Orleans' comeback kids," Oct. 22, 2005

Adults often romanticize childhood as a time of carefree innocence. This is because they forget what it was like. Real children have problems, fears, and vices. The best TV shows about children-from Our Gang to Leave It To Beaver-center on their miseries and mistakes, which can indeed be very funny.

Everybody Hates Chris (Thursdays 8:00 p.m. ET, UPN) is in this company. Based on the childhood of comedian Chris Rock, who is the voice-over narrator, the show is about the trials and tribulations of 13-year-old Chris, growing up in Brooklyn in 1982.

His father works multiple jobs and scrimps every penny so that his family can move out of the projects into a better neighborhood and send his kids to a good school. That means Chris has to deal with the unpleasantness of being one of the few black kids in a mostly Italian school. His mother is a strict disciplinarian, which also causes Chris woe.

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Mr. Rock is a very good comedian, though his act is often marred with vulgarity. This show, though, is rated PG, with only a few questionable moments (such as Chris and his friend talking about condoms, though they have no idea what they are).

Young Chris, engagingly portrayed by Tyler James Williams, has to fend off bullies, play basketball when he really isn't any good, deal with his little sister who gets all of his parents' attention, and keep his younger brother-who is cooler and more popular than he is-in line. The show deals with racial issues, but the agonies of childhood are universal.

Through all of the "everybody hates me" angst, we see the kind of solid family background that is clearly the foundation for Mr. Rock's success.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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