Gift-Wrapping The Black Box: “Everybody Hates Kwanzaa”

Merry December, everyone! The Black Box usually looks at failed television pilots, but all month long, I’m gonna be checking out something different: The time honored trend of the Holiday special! Most folks just do a Christmas edition of their columns at the end of the month, but not I! Here, we’re hitting the quartet of holidays. Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years. And at the end of each review, I’ll tell you what the holiday is truly about according to the episode. So get your holiday sweaters on, light that menorah, pop a bottle of champagne, and something something Kwanzaa something. Let’s go, ’cause I here those sleigh bells jingling!

First, we take a look at literally one of two Kwanzaa specials I could find.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 8.31.59 PM

The added bonus to this holiday special thing I’m doing is that I get to watch shows I actually like. Like this one!

“Everybody Hates Chris” was a sitcom based on the early life of stand up comic Chris Rock. The series aired on UPN, until that channel became The CW, and then finished its run there. Wait. Holy Shit. UPN made a show I like? Hang on, let me go look out the window and– YEP, the sky is on fire and the seas are running red, awesome. Fuckin’ UPN. The series ran from 2005 through 2009 and amassed a lot of love and a decent sized fanbase. I’ve seen my share of episodes, and I like the show. So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at their Kwanzaa special, the tenth episode of the third season of the show.

We start off with Chris and his best friend Greg, who I identify with more than most people I actually know, sitting in class. Oh, and for my younger readers (oh god I hope I don’t have younger readers) Greg is played by Vincent Martella, who you might better know as Phineas from Disney’s Phineas & Ferb. He’s pretty great, but he’s barely in this episode.

No, this episode has two plotlines. The first is focused on Chris having to do some community service for the holidays.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 8.30.56 PM

Yes, I know we haven’t talked about Kwanzaa yet, hold your horses.

Chris decides to help Kill Moves, a homeless man who lives in his neighborhood. But upon talking to Kill Moves a little more, he discovers that the guy is the son of a very wealthy older woman living on the upper east side.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 8.31.39 PM

                                                   Who woulda thought.

So Chris and Greg get to work cleaning up Kill Moves and I have two questions:

  1. Why is he named “Kill Moves”?
  2. Why am I only questioning this now?

They take him to see his mother and we have a super special awesome christmas message about family and holidays and other assorted christmas-y christmas-ness. Which I was ready for. I mean, I am literally sitting here typing in a christmas sweater while blaring christmas music. I am christmased up. But wait, shit, this isn’t a christmas episode, is it? Sorry, with all the time I’ve spent lately fending off the four horsemen of the apocalypse that arose when UPN made a good show, I haven’t had time to think really.

Kwanzaa, right! Kwanzaa is the B-story, and focuses on Chris’s parents, Julius and Rochelle.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 9.43.19 PM

               Dear Terry Crews, I love you so much. That is all. Love, Hunter

When Julius fails to get his Christmas bonus, he convinces the family to celebrate  Kwanzaa instead of Christmas as a money saving measure. throughout the episode, the family dresses up in appropriate wardrobe, talk about Kwanzaa sort of and other stuff. Hell, Greg knows more about Kwanzaa than anyone else seems to, and he’s dressed like this:

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 10.09.58 PM

                                         Well I relate to him more now.

The only thing I definitively remember from the episode is that they keep giving people beets. Is… is that a Kwanzaa thing? Anyway, eventually Julius caves and the family celebrates Christmas one day late. Yaaaaay.

The True Meaning of Kwanzaa According To This Episode:

Ok, look, here is an itemized list of everything I learned about Kwanzaa from this episode:

  1. Fuck
  2. All
  3. Jack
  4. Shit

There we go. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun episode, but it’s more of a Christmas ep than a Kwanzaa one. I guess it’s just hard to write a Kwanzaa episode. If push came to shove and I absolutely HAD to tell you what I thought Kwanzaa was about after watching this I’d have to say this:

Kwanzaa is about not being as good as Christmas.

Is that correct? I’m assuming not, but whatever. look, I am holliday-d out right now. My Christmas sweater is off and I’ve switched from Holiday music to just listening to a ton more of The Doubleclicks. Oh, wait! Shit! I totally DID learn one thing about Kwanzaa from this whole experience.

  1. How to spell “Kwanzaa”

There we go! Now if you’ll excuse me, that portal into hell opened up by the concept of a good UPN show needs closing. And me and my trusty religious horse are just the ones to close it.

Onwards, Jesus-Horse, Onwards!

Next week: Hanukkah.

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