The Bernie Mac Show (FOX)
In The Bernie Mac Show, stand-up comedian Bernie Mac plays himself. But now he’s a woeful Bernie Mac, a beleaguered, confused, exasperated parent to two nieces and a nephew, children of a fictional sister now in a drug rehabilitation program. He’s still a well-known performer, still a celebrity, of course. His house in Beverly Hills proves it. His wife’s executive position matches his personal success. But to those kids, he’s just Uncle Bernie, appropriate target for every prank, easy touch for every request. He responds with an old-fashioned style of discipline and tough love punishment, sometimes verging on the frustrating anger known to any parent. But his lectures and soliloquies are actually expressions of his own deep affection and concern for the children, reminding us of what is truly important for families. Bernie Mac heads an outstanding cast, including Kellita Smith as his wife, Wanda, Camille Winbush as 13-year-old Vanessa, Jeremy Suarez as Jordan and Dee Dee Davis as “Baby Girl,” five-year-old Bryanna. Executive Producer Larry Wilmore and Co-executive Producer Warren Hutcherson team with Producers Bernie Mac, Michael Petok, Steven Greener, and Teri Schaffer and Directors Ken Kwapis and David Grossman to create the show for New Regency Productions and FOX Television. Wilmore and Schaffer also write episodes. They create stories to let us know that when Bernie Mac slumps into his easy chair, looks into the camera, and addresses the television audience, it’s as much a plea for help as it is a lesson about sweet television tykes. As put in Entertainment Weekly, “Mac taps into the feelings that Bill Cosby did 15 years before, that family transcends race; that race determines social perceptions; that all kids need to be firmly disciplined.” For offering these insights in a manner that makes us laugh aloud even when we are viewing alone, The Bernie Mac Show receives a Peabody Award.
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