Picture of Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

The Upshaws return for an engaging fifth season

Season 5 of Netflix’s “The Upshaws” has arrived, welcoming back the patriarch, Bennie Upshaw (played by Mike Epps), and his family as they navigate life in the Hoosier state. The series continues to follow the lives of a Black working-class family living in Indianapolis. Bennie is a charming and well-intentioned mechanic who wants to provide for his family. Still, his tendency to overthink the simplest of situations and chaos often leads to humorous situations. The Upshaw family includes Bennie’s wife Regina (played by Kim Fields), their two young daughters Aaliyah (portrayed by Khali Daniya-Renee Spraggins) and Maya (played by Journey Christine), and their firstborn son Bernard (played by Jermelle Simon). Also living with them is Kelvin (Diamond Lyons), Bennie’s son, from another woman (Gabrielle Dennis).

Regina’s sister Lucretia (Wanda Sykes) was in dire financial straits when we last the family. The newest season finds Lucretia moving in with the family, Aaliyah getting a boyfriend, and Bernard starting his own business. While Kim Fields is usually this show’s MVP, the writers give Lucretia a strong storyline this season. Credit to the writers and Sykes for showing how one minute you can be on top and, in an instant, lose everything. I appreciated that they didn’t rely on jokes about Lucretia’s lost wealth and actually showed her trying to work her way back up. A great recurring bit about Bernard and the soft openings for his business went over very well.

While his last stand-up special wasn’t my cup of tea, Epps continues to win me over as Bennie. Epps’s timing is sharp, and there are even a few moments when he taps into his dramatic skills. Kim Fields also has some good moments, particularly in one episode where she reunites with an old high school rival. While, the young actors who play Bennie’s children deliver great on-screen moments while avoiding the cliché of portraying the kids as more intelligent than their parents. The characters embrace their youth and are growing up on the show, which I like.

I’ve had issues with the show’s use of a laugh track in the past, but I wasn’t that distracted by it this season. Finally, the season does end on a cliffhanger, and I look forward to where they will take the show next season.

Final Grade: B

The Upshaws Season 5 is streaming on Netflix now. 

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