The Upshaws is the latest sitcom airing on Netflix. The show premiered on the online streaming platform on May 12, 2021. It is created by Wanda Sykes and Regina Y. Hicks and they have also written the pilot episode of the show. The Upshaws tells the story of a working-class family in Indiana and their day-to-day lives. The cast of The Upshaws includes Wanda Sykes as Lucretia, Mike Epps, and Kim Fields as Bennie and Regina Upshaw, respectively. The other supporting cast of the show includes Page Kennedy, Diamond Lyons, Gabrielle Dennis, among others.
The new Netflix comedy appears to look and sound like a multitude of other multi-cam sitcoms about families that crack corny jokes and give each other loving grief. There are plenty of the same strewn about Netflix, from “Fuller House” to Jamie Foxx’s latest slapstick entry, “Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!” But “The Upshaws,” finds a way to even slightly twist the formula perfected by broadcast networks. Like the late “One Day at a Time” reboot before it, “The Upshaws” takes the opportunity to showcase a different kind of family than per sitcom usual, albeit one that should resonate with plenty of people who may not have been able to say the same previously.
Bennie is a mechanic who lives near Indianapolis with his wife Regina (Kim Fields) and daughters Maya and Aaliyah (Khali Spraggins). They both work, and they’re barely scraping by, but there’s lots of love in the family and the kids want for nothing. Bennie’s a realistic, but undeniably frustrating character to have at the center of a family show like this. He never entirely had to grow up, so when he’s trying or recognizes that he’s messed up, his apologies tend to be self-centered and entirely presumptive of Regina’s forgiveness. To the show’s credit, it doesn’t shy away from that, especially not if Regina’s sarcastic sister Lucretia (Sykes) can help it. She never fails to let Bennie hear the end of his many shortcomings (or pass up an easy punchline about them), and neither does the show.
There’s also the issue of Lucretia and Bennie hurling insults at each other, a sitcom tradition that’s as old as TV itself. There’s always some buttinsky in-law that makes comments about how much of clod the main character is, and there’s always a verbal back and forth. Will we find out at some point that the two of them feel like family to each other and (gulp!) care for one another? That always seems to be the way this goes, where there’s a touching scene between these two supposed enemies, then they go back to the insults as nothing happened.
All The Upshaws’ jokes might well be a couple of decades old, but there’s also a laudable attempt here at a different kind of family sitcom. Fields get better as The Upshaws leans more toward drama in its final episodes, and Regina is forced to reexamine her reasons for excusing or enabling Bennie’s paternal failures. The scenes dedicated to the embattled Upshaw matriarch offer welcome relief from the volley of taunts and put-downs — and finally, get at a desire for something more.
Final Score – [6/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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