Familial Normality and Values

Everybody Hates Chris is a sitcom that has been known and acclaimed for its comedic recollection of comedian, Chris Rock’s experiences as a child growing up in Brooklyn, NY. With this being said, the domestic sitcom being discussed has much more to offer its audience than simple jokes about Chris missing his bus. Throughout Everybody Hates Chris, relatable family functions and interactions are presented to its audience. These depictions vary from Chris getting his heart broken by a girl, to Chris and his siblings trying desperately to not mess up on mothers day.

Everybody Hates Thanksgiving

The first example of familial normality that we will look to analyze is in Season 2: Episode 8 “Everybody Hates Thanksgiving”, where Chris and his family look to prepare for a busy Thanksgiving holiday. At the beginning of this episode, when Rochelle calls the family to a “conference” at the dinner table, Chris and his siblings are all assigned a dish to prepare for the big feast. With Chris being the oldest sibling of the family, he is given more responsibility by being assigned to prepare the mac and cheese, one of the family’s most desired dishes.

There is no denying that the Holiday Season is one that is both stressful and tiring for those involved in preparation. This is especially true for Julius and Rochelle, who year after year are in charge of making sure all the dishes are prepared and that their guests and family members are well-fed. For Julius, there is an extra amount of stress put upon him as his brother, a successful chiropractor, is coming into town to celebrate the holiday. Just like any other pair of brothers, there is competition between Julius and his brother, Louis. Therefore, Julius made sure to buy the best ingredients and to carefully plan out the meals preparation, in attempt to impress his brother.

In face of the pressure of both making the mac and cheese within the deadline and impressing his company and brother, Chris and Julius reach conflicts in accomplishing their Thanksgiving goals. With the family having gotten up bright and early to start the preparation for the feast, Chris grew tired and ended up falling asleep while the mac and cheese was in the oven. Chris then woke up to the problem of replacing his newly burnt dish with a new version of mac and cheese to feed his family’s company. As a result of the constant pressure of pleasing his guests and living up to the status of his brother, Julius broke down and passed the responsibility onto his brother stating, “They like you so much…let’s see how much they like your cooking” (Chris Rock “Everybody Hates Thanksgiving”).

As many sitcoms tend to do, this account of Everybody Hates Chris ended with the resolution of the conflicts presented within the episode (Bressler, 27). Regarding the burnt mac and cheese, Chris decided to approach the local corner store owner and family friend, Doc, for assistance. Doc provided Chris with his own original mac and cheese recipe, in which he prepared and enjoyed with Chris and his family. As far as Julius’ conflict with his brother, the two resolved their tension, which is presented in the video below, along with the closing scene of the episode.

“Everybody Hates Thanksgiving” is a prime example of how the sitcom, Everybody Hates Chris, reflects traditional family situations and resolutions. Despite the mistakes and conflicts presented throughout the episode between characters, at the end of the day, the Rock family loves and appreciates all that each family member does for one another.

Everybody Hates Mother’s Day

Another example of the sitcom, Everybody Hates Chris, presenting common family functions is through the Season 3 Episode, “Everybody Hates Mother’s Day”. Chris and his younger siblings, Drew and Tonya, are given a very important task in this episode. The task at hand for the Rock children is to show their appreciation for their hard-working mother, Rochelle. With the Rock family being a hard-working-middle class family, which explains the show’s wide popularity, there is not much room for non-essential purchases (Havens, 131). Due to this, the children all decide individually how they are going to raise the money to buy their mother a gift that will show how much their mother means to them.

At the beginning of the episode, “Everybody Hates Mother’s Day”, Chris and his family are all sitting and watching television and discussing gifts for Mother’s Day. In the midst of the children asking their mother which gift she’d like, a commercial advertising an expensive perfume named, “Voodoo”, came on. Assuming that her children would not spend that amount of money on her Mother’s Day present, she named the perfume as her ideal present. For the most part, this is true, as Drew and Tonya resort to buying their mother elbow pads and a record, in which Tonya spent one cent. On the other hand, Chris decided that it was time for him to show his appreciation after all that his mother has done for him by purchasing the perfume.

However, Chris ran into a conflict when he ventured to Goldsteins, the expensive perfume and jewelry store, with intentions to purchase the perfume. Turns out, the perfume was much more expensive than Chris had anticipated, leaving him short in funds. As a result, Chris decided that a knockoff from the neighborhood scam artist, Risky, would do the trick. However, when Mother’s Day came around, things went even further south for Chris. Due to the decision of purchasing from Risky, Chris unintentionally gave his mother a rash on her neck from the counterfeit perfume.

After an unpleasant trip to Goldsteins, where Rochelle finally figured out what Chris had done, Rochelle decided to have a talk with her son regarding what being appreciated on Mother’s Day really means to her. Once the two got home, Rochelle gathered a box of the gifts that Chris had gotten her for Mother’s Day in previous years. These gifts consisted of a macaroni ashtray, macaroni foot insoles, and simply macaroni because Chris ran out of ideas. Rochelle went on to explain to Chris that to her, “These gives are priceless”, and that, “I would never trade these gifts for all the designer perfume in the world.” Chris Rock, through his narration of the episode then states, “From that day, my mother knew that I would do anything for her” (Chris Rock “Everybody Hates Mother’s Day”).

Rochelle and Chris present to the audience wholesome values regarding showing appreciation for those you care about. Chris’ intentions of spending his hard earned money on his mother reflect selflessness and respect for all his mother provides. Rochelle’s actions during the final scene between the two also reflect and support the fact that gifts with emotion and thought behind them carry more weight than how large the gift’s price tag is. As Dant suggests in Television and the Moral Imaginary, “Television both reflects society and extends it” (Dant, 119). In this case, through this episode, society is being reflected to its audience positively by presenting a beneficial life lesson.