Sunday, July 22, 2018

Best TV Couple #9: Rochelle Tingman and Julius Rock

Rochelle (Tichina Arnold) and Julius (Terry Crews) were an honest depiction of how black children were raised if both parents stayed together. 

The ghetto is no place to raise children.

In 1982, Julius and Rochelle Rock move to a large house in Bedstuy Brooklyn-- not necessarily a luxury suite, but it beats the projects (or in Chris's words "government experimentation"). Julius takes in the cost of every last thing including wasted food. Rochelle often boasts of him having two jobs. In addition to happiness for what he has given her and the children, what his sacrifice has allotted them (sleep included), she is obviously proud of his efforts.

Julius and Rochelle may have their spats. In the end, they always make an effort to compromise.
Julius and Rochelle were the heart and soul, the foundation of Everybody Hates Chris. They have a partnership that is all too familiar, like something seen from ordinary, everyday experience. Rochelle's reactions are over the top exaggerations whereas Julius is a calmer rationale. He rarely raises his voice even as she can scream and holler with the best of them.

During the time of drugs implanted into communities and high crime rate, Julius and Rochelle cared about each other and their children, of being present in all steps of their lives, not allowing any negative interference to stand in the way. Sure, the children were tempted, lured by finicky desires of childhood wants. Julius and Rochelle, however, provided a nurturing environment inside the home. While unable to protect from outside forces, Julius and Rochelle instilled positive values and showed a healthy, balanced love. In the black community, a black father that wasn't absent and a black mother that showed interest changed black family media perception.

We cannot dismiss the violence (belt whoopings and such), but the affection and care lingered in every scene.

The important thing too is Julius and Rochelle's relationship-- their romance.

Julius didn't have to think twice-- much less look at Rochelle's wig cap.
Sure, Julius doesn't buy Rochelle sentimental Hallmark cards (instead keeping a box of many cards bought at a flat rate underneath the bed ) or take her out to fine dining. The wealth of romance lies in the little details, the true acts that matter most. In fact, it is a more believable, more impactful authenticity of real life struggles-- raising three children, keeping bills paid on time, making sure food is stocked, and staying married. For example, in episode one, season five's "Everybody Hates Fat Mikes," Julius's work is on strike and he stays home. Once the children compliment him on his good meals and housecleaning skills, Rochelle feels useless. To make her happy, Julius gets the children to mess up the house. Or in season one episode seventeen's"Everybody Hates Funerals," Julius doesn't get between Rochelle and her overly critical mother. After she releases her pent up frustration, having been sad and miserable over her father's death, he comes into the room with her favorite addiction.

Julius brings Rochelle her beloved Turtles (chocolate covered peanut caramel cluster things).

She reveals her first delight since her father unexpectedly passed away. So adorable.

Everybody Hates Chris deserved more than 4 seasons. Its abrupt departure took away a solid, humorous show with two talented actors as loving, committed parental units. Underrated (and under-rewarded) Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold bounced off each other in a realistic sensibility, yin to yang. Rochelle's defensive attitude can be dismissed as aggressive and stereotypical, but Arnold gives Rochelle's sassy feistiness and comforting warmth, embodying truly believable portrait of a mother and wife supporting home and family. Meanwhile, Crews (seen mostly as over masculine in other roles) has a nice change of pace as an attentive father, hardworking breadwinner, and thoughtful husband.

Without Arnold and Crews, Everybody Hates Chris certainly would have been lacking heartfelt genuineness to Julius and Rochelle.

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