The show was very progressive in two senses. Each character is relatable because of the way they were written and the shows use of humor to diffuse the seriousness of racism. This characters were written in a manner to make it the sitcom family feel like a real family. Surprisingly many shows before and during this time struggled with this concept. Humor is also used to utilized to great effectiveness in the show.
In their own way, each character is meant to represent their own stereotype. Julius is meant to be a penny pincher and refuses to spend any more money than necessary. Given that Chris family is within the lower middle class his character is meant to relate to anyone who has had to watch their money. Rochelle is sometimes referred to as a “Ghetto Snob” by the narrator due to her sometimes arrogant nature. She refuses to do anything that she considers under her which makes her relatable to anyone who has served in a position where they felt undervalued. Drew is the most successful one in the family thus making him the envy of Chris. Most people can relate to being the shadow of someone else in the family. Tonya is the annoying younger sister that lives to get her siblings in trouble. Many people have felt similarly that someone they know is just out to get them. Greg is the one person that Chris can truly confide in. He and Greg share a very close connection similar to how most people feel with a best friend. Chris is supposed to be the viewer. He doesn’t have any helpful special talents and can’t quite seem to catch a break. He is supposed to be an average joe. He is the master of none and thus is meant to be relatable to everyone who views the show.
As mentioned before the show deals with racism using humor. The real Chris Rock sought to bring up his own experiences dealing with racism and prejudice and bring better awareness that racism is still within today’s society. He didn’t want to make out anyone into a victim or perpetrator however. His solution was thus to make racism funny. He sought to bring up racism in a controlled and friendly setting in the hopes of having a productive and meaningful conversation. He was very successful doing this within the show. Almost if not every episode brings up one act of racism. Its normally a small act or passing comment by a minor character within the show but its normally brought up as a punchline as joke instead of an outright racist comment. Many critics cite the shows geniuses for accomplishing this.
Despite the consent abuse racism is a key part of the show. Chris feels closer with his family and other black friends who live in the same neighborhood. Many within the black community in the show take comfort in the fact that they know they aren’t suffering alone. This bond keeps them together and gives them hope. While no on within the show is actively trying to end racism it’s clear that Chris and his family intends to fight stereotypes in his own way. His parents both want their children to be successful, while the children generally don’t let racist comments they receive at school effect their plans for the future. None of the children are entirely sure what they want to do with their life but their determined to make it worthwhile. These bonds are what keep the family together despite the family appearing dysfunctional from an outsider’s perspective.
Based on all the evidence and critical acclaim for the shows attention to realism I feel confident that this show is a much better and accurate representation of what makes up a black family and what that entails. Due to its creative use of humor and good character writing the show succeeds making a show that is realistic yet relatable and funny and deals with serious topics.