On this day in comedy on November 14, 2001, The Bernie Mac Show premiered on Fox
Shortened to Bernie Mac in syndication, this sitcom was created by Larry Wilmore and based loosely on comedian, Bernie Mac’s stand-up act. The premise is Mac is a married, but childless stand-up comedian. When his sister goes into rehab he takes her three kids (Vanessa, Jordan and Bryana) in and raises them old school style; with plenty of discipline and a whole lot of tough love.
The show used the device of Mac talking directly into the camera. These addresses to “America” gave Mac the opportunity to voice what was really on his mind before returning to the action of the actual show. Another opportunity was capitalized on by having Mac as a stand-up comedian. It allowed multiple unforced cameos from talents such as Don Cheadle, Chris Rock, Dom DeLuise, Angela Bassett, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Shaq, Hugh Hefner, Sugar Ray Leonard and Wesley Snipes. The show also featured recurring comedians, Reginald Ballard, Carlos Mencia and Anthony Anderson.
Co-starring Kellita Smith (Wanda, the wife), Dee Davis (Bryana, the youngest niece). Jeremy Suarez, (Jordan, the nephew) and Camille Winbush (Vanessa, the eldest niece), the show had behind the scenes drama which led to its demise. After ratings declined due to stiff competition from Damon Wayans ABC sitcom, My Wife and Kids, executive producer, Larry Wilmore was fired. Fox didn’t like the direction he was taking the show and Wilmore didn’t care for the interference Fox kept implementing. The ratings continued to drop, and the show was moved to follow American Idol. The ratings leaped back up, but that wasn’t good enough for Fox, who moved it around even more. Eventually the audience grew tired of trying to find which night The Bernie Mac Show was on and lost interest. On April 14, 2006, Fox aired the final episode.
The Bernie Mac Show won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, a Peabody Award and three NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series. Bernie Mac, the actor, was honored by the Television Critics Association for Individual Achievement in a Comedy and four NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series (2003-2006).
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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