After four hilarious, heartfelt and slyly subversive years, Everybody Hates Chris has come to an end, and while I wish it could have gone on for years to come, I absolutely understand its cancellation. As Chris Rock, in real life, dropped out of high school at the time that this season ended, the show would have lost its focus, shifting away from the family and his junior high/high school stories and moved into the world of unpopular stand-up, a short run on SNL and then ultimately becoming one of the biggest comedians in the world. But those are stories we already know, and this show was about the stories we didn’t know.
So Rock ended the show the way he wanted to, and in a glorious homage to the Sopranos finale that had every member of Chris’ family sitting in a diner and waiting to open an envelope that would say whether or not Chris was to be held back a year due to excessive tardiness, the screen cut to black. (For those few who are both Sopranos fans and Everybody Hates Chris fans, maybe this ending can prove to you that Tony Soprano was not killed at the end of the series, nor did he live his life, because the answer, as it would be in this context, was both. Conspiracy theory assholes ruining my television blogs with inane chatter.) It was an appropriate ending to a show that never let any of its characters off the hook, a remarkably dark program that still managed to somehow appease the PTC by simply not being vulgar about it. (Although it did condone beating your children on a regular basis, which has always rubbed me the wrong way. It turned into a pretty consistent running gag, though, so I can’t really knock them for that.)
What episodes hit my chuckle button the most since we last checked in on this show? I loved loved loved Tichina Arnold’s performance in one of the final episodes, “Everybody Hates Tasha,” when she found out that Julius was still technically married to his previous wife thanks to a legal snafu. Arnold is one of the funniest actresses on television now, and I’m hoping for a return to film, but instead of being a singer (see Little Shop Of Horrors) she can be the scene-stealing comedienne.
Other funny episodes included “Everybody Hates Varsity Jackets,” where Chris joined the wrestling team and was only a success because their competition never had anybody in his weight class, “Everybody Hates The Car” which chronicled everything that could have possibly gone wrong with Chris buying his first car, and everything revolving around the pretty woman in the window, which Drew exploited for cash, in “Everybody Hates Boxing.”
The rest, however, were not as great as the show has been in the past, but they can’t all be gems. What worked about this show was tone tone tone, a frothy high about pretty damn serious things. And little things, like casting great character actors from previous African-American based shows such as What’s Happening? and 227, gave the show a considerably welcoming touch. (And if you’re looking to revisit some of those shows, there’s a cable channel, way late in the numbers, called TV One that airs a good deal of this classics in a great chunk each evening. Just say away from the Christian crap in the middle of the night, so don’t forget to turn off your TV before you doze off, lest you get inducted into the faith against your will.) Also a nice touch was having Drew perform at the Apollo during the finale, as he is based on Chris’ brother Tony who has a comedy and television career completely outside of Chris’ shadow.
On the same note as Ms. Tichina Arnold, Tyler James Williams, who carried the entire show on his shoulders this whole time, deserves a long career after this. He’s a star. He’s reliable, he’s adaptable, and he’s hilarious. And he deserves a hell of a lot better than Unaccompanied Minors. (I’m sorry, Paul Feig, I love your TV baby known as Freaks & Geeks and absolutely adore your books, but that was not much of a movie. Why can’t you find better projects for yourself? Grab your Sabrina The Teenage Witch co-stars Melissa Joan Hart and Soleil Moon Frye and make the greatest Woody Allen/Judd Apatow-type female neuroses movie ever.)
And as for you, funny-looking Vincent Martella, you should take all the free time you have now since you’re no longer playing Greg and convince Disney to make a full-length film version of the glorious show you voice for, Phineas & Ferb. The world needs it.
And, of course, Terry Crews is the motherfucking man as father Julius. A former NFL player, he has completely proven himself in every role I’ve seen him in. Now it’s time to rock in some action films in major roles. (It was a major shame to see that his entire role in Terminator Salvation had been cut save for one shot of him as a dead body.) And between this, Idiocracy and Balls Of Fury, you’re a gut-bustingly good comedic actor.
Okay, Everybody Hates Chris. You were a goofy, absurd, heartwarming and raw family show, something that doesn’t really exist anymore, and maybe 20 years ago you would have been a major hit. Unfortunately, you were on UPN and the CW, and the story is different. Your legacy shall live on in syndication, and I’ll catch you every once in a while down the road.