Inspired by his childhood experiences, comedian Chris Rock narrates the hilarious, touching story of a teenager growing up as the eldest of three children in Brooklyn, New York during the early 1980s. Uprooted to a new neighborhood and bused into a predominantly white middle school two hours away by his strict, hard-working parents, Chris struggles to find his place while keeping his siblings in line at home and surmounting the challenges of junior high. This responsible, resilient adolescent brings a distinct, funny spin to his everyday trials and traumas in this single-camera comedy.
If you liked Everybody Hates Chris
' first season, you're going to love season 2. Much like Chris (NAACP Image Award-winner Tyler James Williams, really growing into the role), now an eighth grader at all-white Corleone Junior High, this semi-autobiographical series based on Chris Rock's childhood, has matured. "This doesn't feel like last year all over again," Chris's best (and only) friend, fellow geek Greg (Vincent Martella) tells him at one point. Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Tired of being "picked on, made fun of, and left out," Chris runs for class president and actually wins. But, after making campaign promises he cannot keep, he is later unceremoniously impeached. Looking to get a little respect, he becomes a hall monitor, but becomes such an abusive, power-mad "jerk," he risks losing Greg's friendship. And in the season finale, he finally gives Caruso (Travis T. Flory) his racist tormentor, his comeuppance. Too bad they'll be attending summer school together. What is most intriguing about this season is we begin to see the first sketches in this portrait of the artist as a young man. "You ought to be a comedian," a thug tells Chris after Chris asks him to return money he stole from the neighborhood grocery store where Chris works. In "Everybody Hates Dirty Jokes," Chris is introduced to the forbidden comedy of Red Foxx, Moms Mabley, and George Carlin, and regales his classmates with their unprintable routines.
What distinguishes Chris from old-school family sitcoms is that there is little that is typical or obvious about it. The episode "Everybody Hates the Buddy System" resists sitcom expectations of Chris and Caruso bonding after they are paired up during a field trip. Everybody Hates Chris has an indelible sense of time (1984-85) and place (Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood)--it's got a killer soundtrack! While it is firmly grounded, it has an animated sensibility that allows for hilarious fantasy digressions. Chris Rock's Wonder Years-type narration also finds humor in the gritty reality of a family struggling to get by in a crime-plagued neighborhood (and he can't resist occasional anachronistic Michael Jackson, O.J., and Bill Clinton jokes). Along with mild profanity, there are references to parental-administered corporal punishment (which is inflicted off-screen). But there are scenes of genuine warmth and sweetness that convey that this is a nurturing family, as when Chris's younger, more popular brother, Drew (Tequan Richmond) teaches his Billy Ocean-loving younger sister Tonya (Imani Hakim) how to moonwalk (which she insists Michael stole from Billy), or the celebratory dinner when Chris wins his election. Everybody Hates Chris was snubbed by Emmy voters for Best Comedy Series consideration, nor were cast members nominated, but hopefully this DVD set, enhanced with a wealth of clever and creative extras (including one segment featuring the actors who stand-in for cast members during rehearsal) will allow people to show the love for one of TV's freshest and funniest series. Be a Hate-er! --Donald Liebenson