Bernie Mac was a Chicago comic through and through. Born and raised on the South Side, Mac, who was born Oct. 5, 1957, became a local comedy powerhouse in the 1990s and later one of the “Kings of Comedy” alongside D.L. Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer. He stole scenes in “House Party 3” and the “Oceans” remakes and headlined in “Guess Who?” and “Mr. 3000.”
In 2001, Mac landed his own sitcom on Fox, and it became a hit with both audiences and critics alike.
“Based loosely on Mac’s own life,” Chicago Sun-Times critic Phil Rosenthal wrote, “this new laugh-track-free series has him playing a Los Angeles comedian named Bernie Mac who, with his executive wife (Kellita Smith), has parenthood suddenly thrust upon him when his sister’s drug problem makes her unable to take care of her son (Jeremy Suarez) and two daughters (Camille Winbush and Dee Dee Davis).”
But the show, the critic assured readers, would not devolve into an after-school special.
“Yeah, my sister’s on drugs,” Mac announces to viewers in the pilot episode. “That’s OK. Some of your family members are messed up, too.”
Mac and producer Larry Wilmore infused the comedian’s own “cranky truth-teller” style into each episode to create a “funny, utterly unsentimental series about parenthood in the ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ mold, meaning that even after all is said and undone, there’s a certain sweetness at its core.”
Rosenthal hoped the show would turn Mac into the “household name he deserves to be in households where he somehow isn’t already.”