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The Bernie Mac Show is an Americanmarker sitcom featuring comic actor Bernie Mac and his wife Wanda raising his sister's three kids: Jordan, Bryana and Vanessa. Towards the end of the series, Bryana's long-lost father (Anthony Anderson) returns and drops by from time to time to help Bernie and Wanda with the kids. The show aired for five seasons (2001-2006) on FOX.

Characteristics of the show

The show was loosely based on Mac's stand-up comedy acts... In real life, Bernie "Mac" McCollough was married with one daughter; Mac's character on the show (a stand-up comedian) was married with no kids of his own. The pilot episode, aired on November 14, 2001, set up the basic premise for the show: the character Bernie Mac takes in his sister's children after she enters rehab (a premise taken from one of Mac's routines in the 2000 film, The Original Kings of Comedy).

Much of the humor in the show was derived from Mac's continual adjustment to and his unique take on parenthood. A frequent motif of the show was the juxtaposition of Mac's acerbic comments, such as his threats to "bust the (children's) heads 'til the white meat shows," and the deep parental affection he felt towards the trio, which often brought him to the verge of tears during happy moments.

Many of his most emotional scenes occurred in segments in which Mac, while still in character, broke the 'fourth wall' and talked to the television audience. As was also the case during his stand-up routine, Mac habitually addressed the audience as "America" for humorous effect. The lighting of the shots typically appears to be yellowish in color.

Mac's character's celebrity worked as a plot device allowing other celebrities to appear on the show as themselves. Halle Berry, Serena Williams, Chris Rock, Ashton Kutcher, Billy Crystal, Carl Reiner, Don Rickles, Angela Bassett, Ellen DeGeneres, Ice Cube, Isaac Hayes, Lucy Lawless, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Matt Damon, Wesley Snipes, Charles Barkely, Jon Garland, Jules Sylvester, Sugar Ray Leonard, India.Arie, Snoop Dogg, Shaquille O'Neal , Hugh Hefner, Phil McGraw and Vivica A. Fox have all appeared as themselves over the course of the show.


The Bernie Mac Show won the Peabody Award, the Humanitas Prize, an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, three NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series, and was honored by the Television Critics Association. For his role in the show, Bernie Mac was honored by the Television Critics Association for Individual Achievement in a Comedy as well as the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series five years in a row: 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006.

Broadcast history by season

The show debuted in its time slot on November 14, 2001 with great ratings in its first season, but a weak lead-in Grounded for Life may have hurt the show's ratings. Nonetheless, the critically acclaimed show had a very successful rookie season and in the process won a handful of honors including an Emmy Award for 'Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series' and the prestigious Peabody Award. Bernie Mac also received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor in a Comedy Series respectively.

In the fall of 2002, the show aired against the Damon Wayans comedy My Wife & Kids which may have hurt the show's momentum in the ratings during the first half of the show's second season run. Larry Wilmore, the show's creator and executive producer, was fired at this time. In interviews, Wilmore said he was fed up with the network's creative interference with the show in addition to constantly shuffling it around the schedule. Fox contended that it wasn't happy with the shows direction under Wilmore in its second season claiming the show "wasn't delivering enough laughs". With The Bernie Mac Show 's inability to topple My Wife & Kids in the Wednesday 8 p.m. timeslot, Fox eventually aired the show after American Idol, after which it received its highest ratings ever.

The third season was scheduled to start on October 29, 2003 but was postponed due to The O.C. being moved. Instead the show started the season at the late date of November 30, 2003. The ratings were mediocre despite the large ratings of its lead-in, The Simpsons. In March 2004, the show was moved to Monday nights in a plan to boost ratings for the new show Cracking Up, but the ratings were low for both shows. Cracking Up was canceled and The Bernie Mac Show was pulled from May Sweeps with leftover episodes that aired in June (one of which included an episode about Thanksgiving).

The show returned to its original time slot on September 8, 2004 to start the fourth season. The production was shut down a month later due to Bernie's sickness. The show returned on January 14, 2005 with new episodes on Friday nights. Although the ratings were low enough that commentators questioned the show's future (especially when it was postponed from May Sweeps again), the show was renewed for a fifth season.

The fifth season started September 23, 2005 on Friday nights and airings were followed by reruns of the show.

The Bernie Mac Show celebrated its 100th episode on February 3, 2006 despite the fact that the actual 100th episode was not aired until March 31.


After five seasons and 104 episodes, FOX announced the cancellation of The Bernie Mac Show.

Series Finale

The series finale titled "Bernie's Angels" focused on Bernie getting an electrical shock and ends up traumatized. After he recovers, he begins to teach Jordan and Bryana how to do certain things on their own. Also, Vanessa doesn't want Bernie to be involved in her choosing a college. Meanwhile, Jordan takes advantage of Bernie's kindness. In the end, Vanessa and Bernie make up (mainly due to her writing a essay about who inspires her most: which is him). In the final scene of the series, Bernie goes back to his normal self and takes back the iPod he bought Jordan since he was taking advantage of him. Bernie's final line is a farewell message to the viewers and stating that he is going to continue to raise and teach the kids for as long as they need it and he also wishes the viewers luck. The scene pans out with Jordan on his knees sobbing and begging for the iPod while Bernie laughes and teases him.

  • It can also be noted that Wanda's role in the finale is both brief and minor.
  • New cast member Anthony Anderson is absent in this episode.



The show has been airing in syndication since September 2005 and is on the FX network as of 2009.

On various television stations the show's title is shortened to simply Bernie Mac.

Despite being in worldwide syndication, Bernie Mac's hometown Chicagomarker exclusively airs the show on the city's independent station The Umarker. The show has been on that station since 2005 but after Mac's death in 2008, the show remains a part of the channel in honor of Mac. However, at the beginning of fall 2009, the show was moved to The U's sister station MeTV. It can still be seen on The U on weekends.

On the day of Bernie Mac's funeral, WCIU-TV aired a retrospective TV special called "A Tribute to Bernie Mac" which featured clips from the show and an interview with Camille Winbush, who portrayed Vanessa.

Regular cast

Recurring cast

Main crew

DVD releases

Season Releases
DVD Name Release Date Ep # Additional Information
Season 1 May 4, 2004 22 Bonus features include commentary on the Pilot from Bernie Mac and A 60 minute "A & E Tvography".

The Season One DVD boxset was released on DVD May 4, 2004. There have been no announcements regarding further seasons being released. The reason for this could be about music rights, which was the case for Malcolm in the Middle Season 2, however there is no confirmation from FOX.


  2. "The Bernie Mac Show" (2001)

External links

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