Yes, rapper/actor Ice Cube has turned his squeaky-clean blockbuster hit “Are We There Yet?” into a bonafide sitcom. It’s no secret that Cube has come a long way since his days of banging out hits for gangsta rap group N.W.A. The sitcom “Are We There Yet?” seemed to have some good bones. After all, the same guy (Ali LeRoi) who helped fashion the masterpiece that was the CW’s “Everybody Hates Chris” developed it. And with Terry Crews on the team, how could you go wrong? But if you watched the first two episodes of the sitcom, you may have discovered that this show—well—just, isn’t quite there yet.
Reason #1: Essence Atkins? Really?
Perhaps we’re still on the high that comes after watching “Everybody Hates Chris” reruns. Or maybe actress Tichina Arnold is simply a better sitcom matriarch. But somehow it’s hard separating Essence Atkins from the image of Dee Dee Thorne, her character in the slapdash CW comedy “Half & Half.” As Nick’s wife on this new show, she comes across as if she’s trying a bit too hard to be hip and chuckle-worthy. Her punch lines might actually be funny if she weren’t punching so hard through the delivery. As a result, there is zero chemistry between Terry and Essence as a TV married couple. In short, every time Atkins opens her mouth, memories of sitcom “Sister Sister” come flooding to mind. Yes, we know that “Sister Sister” starred the Mowry twins—and not Atkins. But the bubbly “married couple humor” has all the trappings of a sitcom with lesser sophistication. (sigh.)
Reason #2: When Plot Devices Go Wrong
The major plot device utilized in the first episode focused on Suzanne’s desire to hyphenate her married surname. Toss in the fact that she’s apparently come to bed looking more like “Tyler Perry instead of Halle Berry”—and you’ve got yet another “marital conflict.” A few questions: If the pair has been married 6 months and dating for however long—hasn’t Nick already seen Suzanne’s morning look? And furthermore, how is Suzanne’s hyphenated last name coming up 6 months after saying “I do”? We completely get that the message being whispered is that marriage is about blending, sharing, and sacrificing for one another. But it just seems that the writers could have found another way to get these points across.
Reason #3: Cute Kids… A little too cute.
If you’ve seen either of these Ice Cube movies on which the sitcom is based, you will agree that kids used in both projects are more than adorable. But for some reason, the kids in the movie are much more believable as siblings than the pair we’ve seen in the “Are We There Yet?” TV comedy. In fact, these kids seem to be suffering from the same chemistry issue as their mom and stepdad.
Reason #4: Telma Hopkins plays Nick’s mother.
Let the record show that we love, love, love Telma Hopkins. She’s had a fleet of handy TV roles in her career (after Tony Orlando & Dawn, that is.) But after seeing her counsel her daughter Mona in “Half & Half” for four seasons, she’s having a hard time fitting her into the precarious role of Terry Crews’ mother. Perhaps this is simply a bad case of over-casting—where a show’s actors get so cozy with each other, that they can’t bear not to work with them again. It’s sort of like finding out that your best friend in homeroom also has three other classes with you.
Reason #5: Ice Cube. (Sorry, dawg. We still love ya.)
Enter the stage, Ice Cube. He enters the room and the bubbly gangsta soundtrack comes piping in. It’s not difficult to believe that Ice Cube is gangsta. But watching him in this capacity is more painful than expected. Uncle Terrence’s character is certainly a comical addition. But somehow the dichotomy between his raw presence and this plastic family is a little awkward. And is it just us or does it seem as if the show would grow stronger legs if Ice Cube dropped his gangster brother routine and slid into the husband role that he made famous in the first place (with another wife, of course)? We’re just sayin’…