The first episode of Everybody Hates Chris aired on September 22, 2005. In the episode viewers meet Chris’s family and friends for the first time. The show takes place between 1982 and 1987 in Brooklyn New York. In the show we meet Chris, his mother Rochelle, his father Julius, his younger brother Drew, his younger sister Tonya, and his best friend Greg. Rock himself narrates the show and Chris’s life.
Chris is ambitious, responsible, kind-hearted but is unlucky, unpopular, awkward and nerdy. He is often in the shadow of his younger brother who is far more successful in just about everything. His parents treat him the harshest because he is the oldest. He is also often tasked with watching over his younger siblings much to his dismay since they often disobey him. His father is levelheaded, devoted and extremely frugal. Julius works two jobs in order to support his family. He tries to save money everywhere possible even if it means using duct tape to fix a leaky roof. He also has the price of everything in his house memorized should it be destroyed. Rochelle is assertive, strict and extremely overbearing. She is often seen getting hired and then quitting jobs over the course of the show. She refuses to do any work that she deems as beneath her which unfortunately is a lot. She is irrationally sacred that her children will become drug dealers or street criminals and will do anything within her power to ensure they stay off the streets. Drew as mentioned is constantly outdoing his older brother. He is athletic, popular and academic. He secretly envy’s his brother responsibility. He also lacks common sense which often results in getting his brother in trouble. Tonya is smart-mouthed and shrewd. She is the youngest of the siblings. She often enjoys fabricating stories in order to get his older brothers in trouble. Julius also carries a soft spot for Tonya which she exploits. Lastly is Greg. Greg is just as unpopular as Chris is in school and deals with the same bullies. He is often picked on because he is the only white person in the school to befriend a black. Greg often offers his own advice to Chris’s problem that never end up being helpful.
Everybody Hates Chris received critical acclaim for its use of comedy and overall likability. Many like that fact that unlike so many other sitcoms it’s the parents who run the household instead of the children. If any of the other children talk back or do something out of line they are punished as if they were real children instead of television personas. Several other critics often cite the shows use of humor to bring up underlying more serious topics that gives the show its likability. The show mainly deals with racism and what that means for a teenage high school student and his family. Chris is the only black student at an all-white school where he faces racism from other students in the form of beatings, verbal abuse, and having his money stolen. He also deals with racism from the teachers who refuse to help solve his bullying problem and lower his grades due to his race.
There were certain elements of the show that were changed in order to better fit the viewers. Since Everybody Hates Chris aired on prime-time television certain language or scenarios couldn’t be brought up since the primary audience could be children. Rock has also stated he never wanted to make an episode that his daughter couldn’t watch. This limits what can be shown and the issues brought up. Real events of racism such as a police shooting may not be able to be brought up in an effective manner because of its limitations.