The Bernie Mac Show
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mac plays a gruff but loving father figure who, despite some claims to the contrary, is happy to share his home and his life with his sister's children. This series is funny and creative, and parents who enjoy Mac's brand of humor are likely to enjoy it as much as their children do. Episodes deal with more mature themes as the children age, but there's not a lot to worry about here.
What's the story?
Bernie Mac, who died in 2008, was on his way to becoming a memorable TV dad, combining traits of both Archie Bunker and Bill Cosby. A stand-up comedian both on the show and in real life, he played a lovable grouch who's just trying to maintain some control over his environment. Bernie McCullough (Mac) and his wife Wanda (Kellita Smith), a business executive, didn't plan on being parents, but took in Bernie's sister's kids. Bernie and Wanda create a loving family environment, but the kids constantly pose new challenges and parenting is the fodder of most episodes. Oldest daughter Vanessa (Camille Winbush) scares Uncle Bernie to death with her teenage interests, pre-pubescent Jordan (Jeremy Suarez) confuses his uncle with his offbeat intelligence, and precocious Bryana (Dee Dee Davis) wants her own room.
Is it any good?
Viewers and critics alike responded well to this series: It won the Peabody Award, an Emmy for outstanding writing, and an NAACP Image Award, among numerous other honors. If you don't like Bernie Mac's comic style, you probably won't like this show. But many parents, teens, and older tweens will appreciate that this family of smart individuals teaches Mac as much as he tries to teach them.
Bernie Mac is similar to Everybody Loves Raymond in that the dad's foibles and complaints are a main focus of the show, but it breaks away from the pack because the children emerge as full-fledged characters.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Mac's brusque approach to fatherhood. Are his reactions to the kids' behavior realistic? Does he ever over-react? The show also offers an opportunity to discuss non-traditional families. Do your kids know anyone in a similar situation to the show's McCullough family? How would they feel in Bernie's kids' place?