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The Upshaws now playing on Netflix starring and co-created by Wanda Sykes.
By Lapacazo Sandoval, Contributing Writer
Published May 20, 2021

Baby — don’t hate the player, respect the game.

Wanda Sykes as Lucretia in ‘The Upshaws’ (Netflix)

Baby. Don’t hate the player. Respect the game. And this game is harder than football, soccer, basketball, and tennis combined. The game is comedy and it’s not made for the faint of heart. Only funny soldiers with the heart of a lion and take no bullshit attitude of dolphins (yes, look it up) need to apply.

Now playing on Netflix, the new, multi-cam comedy The Upshaws starring Wanda Sykes who is also the co-creator. Insults fly fast and furious and coming from the mouth of her brother in brother-in-law Bennie (Mike Epps), these insults are meant to have an impact!

Sykes is an executive producer on the series, which comes from her production company, which, one would assume, gives the writer/co-creator/producer some control. The people have spoken. At the time of filing this review, the show was trending and holding a spot in the “Top Ten” shows on the streaming platform.

THE UPSHAWS (L to R) MIKE EPPS as BENNIE and WANDA SYKES as LUCRETIA in episode 102 of THE UPSHAWS Cr. LARA SOLANKI/NETFLIX © 2021

In the show as Lucretia, at first glance, you might write her, and the show-off, as a tired, and antiquated sitcom trope. Look deeper.
Lucretia has control. There is something brewing under her silent smirks that hint that she’s the smartest one in the room, and always has been.

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She tries to warn her little sister Regina (Kim Fields) about Bennie’s character.

I think the reason why audiences have responded, despite dismal reviews, is that it feels like a network TV comedy that was made 25 years ago. Nostalgia is powerful.

This shapes The Upshaws’ most vocal protagonist into someone to watch. He’s where the action begins.

THE UPSHAWS (L to R) WANDA SYKES as LUCRETIA in episode 104 of THE UPSHAWS Cr. LARA SOLANKI/NETFLIX © 2021

Who is Bennie Upshaw? He is a father of three children with Regina, as well as of a teenage son he had with his former girlfriend, Tasha (Gabrielle Dennis). Bennie and Regina’s eldest, the 20-something Bernard (Jermelle Simon), isn’t happy that his dad was absent for most of his childhood, but he gets a second chance at fatherhood with 13-year-old Aaliyah (Khali Spraggins), elementary-school-age Maya (Journey Christine) and their half-brother Kelvin (Diamond Lyons). A nice twist, right?

The Upshaws are clear; they are not a perfect family. There are problems and they will be unearthed one agonizing, and hilarious, issue at a time. Bennie is an emotional train wreck. Utterly self-centered and constantly in some stage of self-sabotage.

My colleagues have called the characters in The Upshaws two-dimensional, giving attention to the writing, calling the jokes old, and the quips flimsy. I agree. Utterly correct except there is a method to this comedy madness — you have to look deeper if you dare and I suggest that you do.

Wanda Sykes
(LARA SOLANKI/NETFLIX)

10 episodes in season one focus, mostly on how Bennie loves to use shortcuts in life — which means he enjoys keeping secrets from his wife thereby breaking trust.

Kim Fields, a television veteran provides The Upshaws with the anchor. She has the experience and the talent to use the crazy, comic energy that crackles with Sykes and Epps.

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The actress knows how to spin basic metals into comedic gold. For example, in the second episode, Bennie takes Regina out to a fancy restaurant they can’t afford, lured in by an offer to be “taken care of” by a woman who’s romantically interested in him. When the woman gets angry that Bennie brings his wife to her workplace, caught, he tries to pass Regina off as his sister in the hopes of getting their expensive

meal comped.

(Courtesy photo)

When The Upshaws leans into drama, Fields gets even better, and in one episode she’s forced to reexamine her reasons for enabling Bennie’s paternal failures.

The Upshaws now playing on Netflix and trending.

Categories: Comedy | Entertainment | TV
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