Wanda Sykes says her new Netflix sitcom, The Upshaws, was the perfect vehicle to show an authentic side of the Black American family.
Set in Indianapolis, the series follows Mike Epps as Bennie Upshaw, a car mechanic who shares a blended family with his high school sweetheart. In addition to juggling a small business and plenty of baby mama drama, Bennie must also deal with his sardonic mother-in-law Lucretia, played by Sykes. Sykes tells ABC Audio that The Upshaws represents the everyday working-class family. So essentially, The Conners, but Black.
"Well, I think there's a void right now for these types of shows," she says. "Especially when it comes to us. I mean, we either have made it, and [are] super rich, or we're slaves or struggling [with] some type of pain going on."
Taking a page out of past portrayals of the nuclear Black family as seen in The Cosbys and Good Times, Sykes says she leaned in to those important conversations, while staying away from the usual tropes.
"And we want to go back to the old school sitcoms but make it fresh," she explains. "So in order to do that, we have to talk about what's happening and deal with problems that's going on right now. But, of course, in a very funny way. So it was important for us to show how a majority of Americans are living right now."
The Upshaws, executive produced by Sykes, also stars Kim Fields and Gabrielle Dennis. It is now available on Netflix.