Are We There Yet? Yep. Wednesday, June 2

Terry Crews, Essence Atkins, Coy Stewart, and Teala Dun, courtesy Turner Newsroom

ARE WE THERE YET?

Friendly Rating: The whole family.  Not kidding.

Safety Rating: Some sex jokes and scenes with social drinking.

Quality Rating: Mostly excellent.

Series premieres tonight on TBS at 9 p.m.

The show is based on the 2005 movie of the same name, starring Ice Cube as a bachelor asked to take his girlfriend’s two kids from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, Canada.  Initially, the kids hate the boyfriend and the whole thing turns into a ridiculous road pic that was soundly panned by the critics.

I’m willing to bet the TV show is better than the movie (which I haven’t seen).  Instead of a road pic, we’ve got a family sitcom that has its rough spots, but works.  When the movie ended, Nick had bonded with the kids and was ready to date their mom Suzanne.  The show starts six months after the wedding.  Nick (Terry Crews) wants to make a family.  Suzanne (Essence Atkins) knows she has one already and the kids Lindsey (Teala Dunn) and Kevin (Coy Stewart) are on board, but not about to give up causing trouble.

That the result only superficially resembles the flick is only to the better.  What we have is a basic family sitcom, but one that is funny and that takes its humor from a very real place.  Yes, you have the best friends with the totally skewed values and same ol’ lame sex jokes.  But because they’re not the whole show, you can put up with them and sometimes even enjoy them.

Ice Cube not only has his fingers in the show as a producer, he does a lovely hysterical turn as Suzanne’s paranoid SWAT officer brother Terrence.  But what gets me excited is the guy doing the day to day work of cranking this puppy out – Ali LeRoi.  LeRoi was the guy behind Everybody Hates Chris.  Yeah, we know Chris was based on Chris Rock’s life and largely his baby.  Except his go-to man was LeRoi and you can see it here.  LeRoi is writing, producing and even directing several episodes.

This is one of those oh-so-very rare shows where the parents are still parents, but at the same time are imperfect and goofing up without looking like buffoons.  How much of this is Crews’ not inconsiderable talent, I can’t say – Crews played Chris’ father Julius in that show.  The guy knows how to be funny with incredible grace and dignity.  But I can’t imagine him being this good without LeRoi’s dead-on writing and wit.

Some of the humor comes from being a blended family – in the opening episode, Nick and Suzanne end up fighting because she chose to hyphenate her last name rather than simply take Nick’s.  And I gotta love the solution she and Nick come up with.  Some of it involves the kids causing trouble – a future episode has Lindsey playing Nick against her mom.  But ultimately, it’s real and fun and worth watching, then talking about with your kids.

I mean, do you relate to this family and what they deal with?  How do you connect with your kids?  Join the discussion below.

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