Created by Regina Hicks and Wanda Sykes, The Upshaws is the new Netflix sitcom about a working class Indianapolis family dealing with day-to-day problems that invariably lead to comical scenarios. Bennie Upshaw (Mike Epps) is a mechanic and family man who means well but ends up causing trouble at every turn, meanwhile his wife Regina (Kim Fields) tries to hold everything together and remedy his mistakes.
Bennie and Regina were college sweethearts. Their eldest son Bernard Jr, who was born early on in their relationship, is still resentful towards his father for not fulfilling his parental duties in a satisfactory way. Their teenage daughter Aaliyah and little girl Maya complete the family, but there is also Bennie’s teenage son Kelvin who was born after the protagonist had a fling with the promiscuous Tasha. Regina’s sister Lucretia (played by Wanda Sykes) is often around to judge and mock everyone – Bennie in particular.
The Upshaws follows a traditional formula for family sitcoms, which means that there aren’t many original elements. Bennie is the deadbeat husband, and the humour relies largely on his shortcomings. Then there is married couple bickering, teenage daughters and sons wanting to break the rules, the cynical older aunt getting involved in every family drama, a goofy family friend, and so on.
The themes and style are reminiscent of several classics of the genre, with the main tweak being the fact that the household at the centre of the action is a modern dysfunctional family. Relying on a tried-and-tested format does make the series very watchable, and the jokes do come in consistently; the material will feel familiar to sitcom fans and many viewers will likely warm to it for this reason. However, everything unfolds in a predictable pattern and it feels too much like a pre-packaged product than an original concept. The Upshaws is a lighthearted way to pass time, but ultimately unmemorable.
The Upshaws is released on Netflix on 12th May 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Upshaws here: