Netflix’s new sitcom The Upshaws, created by Wanda Sykes and Regina Y. Hicks premiered May 12th on the streaming service with 10 episodes.
The Upshaws is about husband, Bennie Upshaw (Mike Epps) and his wife Regina (Kim Fields) and their family. Like most families they’re a little dysfunctional..well, actually a lot dysfunctional.
In the first episode, “Birthday B.S.” we quickly see how much of a mess Bennie is while within the first minute he’s letting their 6 year old daughter, Maya (Journey Christine) put syrup in her cereal for breakfast. We are introduced to Regina when she comes down stairs with a joyful, “good morning” to Bennie but the smile doesn’t last too long before she see’s she has to remake breakfast and makes us laugh when she says to Bennie, “Baby, we too broke to afford insulin shots”. We get a glimpse of why the episode is called “Birthday B.S.” when Regina’s sister Lucretia (Wanda Sykes) comes in and asks Bennie if he’s closing the shop to go to Vegas on Saturday. Bennie is a mechanic and he co-owns an auto repair shop with Lucretia called “Bennie’s Garage”. Well, Regina has to remind Bennie that their eldest daughter Aaliyah’s (Khali Spraggins) birthday party is on Saturday. It’s apparent that Lucretia and Bennie don’t get along, their back and fourth banter reminding us of Martin and Pam from the 90s sitcom, Martin. Introduced next is the birthday girl, Aaliyah and just as most teenage girls she’s asking for something. Then, the doorbell rings and it’s Bennie’s baby mama, Tasha (Gabrielle Dennis), it’s clear Regina and Tasha have tension which makes sense because when we see Bennie and Tasha’s son, Kelvin (Diamond Lyons) we’re wondering where he fits in the family timeline. Soon after at Bennie’s Garage we meet the delivery man a.k.a. Regina and Bennie’s son Benard Jr. (Jermelle Simon) that they had when they were in high school. Benard Jr. and Bennie’s relationship is rocky because of the absence from his life when he was growing up. Aaliyah’s birthday party gets a little complicated and we find out where Kelvin fits in when Tasha reminds Bennie that their son Kelvin’s birthday party is also on Saturday although his actual birthday was three weeks prior. Bennie had Kelvin when he and Regina were on a break, or at least that’s how he recalls it. The episode gets more interesting when Bennie chooses a venue meant to be used as a strip club for Aaliyah’s party. He also goes back and fourth from her party to his son Kelvin’s party and lies to Regina about it. The birthday party fiasco ends up working out because they figure it out as a real big (happy?) family. This isn’t the first mess up from Bennie and it won’t be the last, as the series continues Bennie does a whole lot worse. But, this is what makes it such a good show.
The Upshaws is refreshing, it brings back real laughs when it comes to multi-cam sitcoms which has been lacking on television for years. The writing is witty with hilarious back to back punchlines. The character development is relatable and realistic. Mike Epps, Kim Fields, and Wanda Sykes have perfect chemistry. The performance from the cast is grounded making us feel like we’re watching a real family. From having ghetto twins to going back to school to coming out about your sexuality, the Upshaws have real issues real families face, there’s something for everyone to relate to in some way. That’s why season two has been greenlit! We can probably expect the next season to release May of 2022. We’ll be waiting anxiously because the cliff hanger (we won’t spoil alert you!) they left on the last episode was a jaw dropper.