The Bernie Mac Show: Season 1

The Bernie Mac Show: Season 1
Like many top stand-up comedians, the secret to Bernie Mac's success has been to keep his comedy real and true to himself. More than observational anecdotes, Mac's act has mostly drawn from what's going on in his own eventful life. From the joy and pain of growing up with a large, impoverished family in Chicago to overcoming the cruel odds and making it as a black entertainer in white America, Mac has made his own story the fodder for his edgy comedy. This is also the premise for one of the best sitcoms on network television. Taking its cue from routines about having a crack-addicted sister with three kids, The Bernie Mac Show showcases its star's amazing presence in front of the camera and is a surprisingly well-suited outlet for Mac's fiery humour. While his sister is on a "state-sponsored vacation in Chicago," Mac and his wife (played by the sexy Kellita Smith) take care of their two young nieces (wonderfully played by Camille Winbush and Dee Dee Davis) and their nephew (Jeremy Suarez, basing his spastic character on a young Bernie Mac) in their Los Angeles home. The strong 22-episode first season of the show features the family's adjustment period, as Mac balances parental concern with a bachelor's protective anger. The show's innovative documentary-meets-sitcom format features Mac addressing the audience directly from a chair in his den in between plot developments. "America," he often begins, "I'm gonna kill them kids." It's these oft-repeated pronouncements that made network execs nervous about the show initially but for Mac, the show couldn't have gone any other way. "If you look at it, the issues that we're dealing with today are different from the issues that affected The Dick Van Dyke Show," Mac states in the pilot episode's audio commentary. "These issues affect everybody — that's what makes our show universal." Like Seinfeld before him, Mac plays himself as a working comedian who is a celebrity but has the same problems as anybody else. This realism coupled with the show's incomparable style and humour are what have made Bernie Mac a household name and one of the funniest men on television. Plus: A&E special. (Fox)