Inspired by his childhood experiences, comedian Chris Rock narrates the hilarious, touching story of a teenager growing up as the eldest of children in Brooklyn, New York during the early 1980s.
Beginning with its assured pilot episode, it's love at first sight for Everybody Hates Chris
. This loosely autobiographical family sitcom has a distinctive voice (belonging to co-creator Chris Rock, who also serves as narrator) and a strong sense of time (1982-83) and place (Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood). For Chris (the winning Tyler James Williams), turning 13 is anything but a wonder year. He is the only black kid in an all-white junior high school (to which he is bused) that offers him "not a Harvard-type education, just not a sticking-up-a-liquor-store-type education." At school, he is befriended by the geeky Greg (Vincent Martella), and mercilessly tormented by the red-haired bully Joey Caruso (Travis T. Flory). At home, his father, Julius, (former NFL player Terry Crews) works two jobs to make ends meet, and knows the cost of everything ("That's 49 cents of spilt milk on my table"). His mother, Rochelle (Tichina Arnold), also works part-time and knows "100 recipes for whooping ass." Chris is often called upon to be "the emergency adult" to his younger brother, Drew (Tequan Richmond), who is taller than Chris and better at everything from karate to girls, and his younger sister, Tonya (Imani Hakim), who is Daddy's favorite and delights in getting Chris into trouble.
While Chris's family is much more functional than Roseanne's clan, it, too, etches a vivid portrait of a family struggling to get by, as when Rochelle explains to Julius the "debt system" of paying bills. But most of the humor is universal, from Chris's life-changing discovery of his father's Playboy magazine to his anxiety over Picture Day at school. Everybody Hates Chris also manages to show the love without being mawkishly sentimental. In the pilot, narrator Rock notes that his father didn't express his feelings, but as he was only one of four fathers on the block, his "'I'll see you in the morning' meant he'd be coming home. And that was his way of saying, 'I love you.'" --Donald Liebenson