'Everybody Hates Chris' in Hot Water With Parents
12/23/2005 1:19 PM PT
NEW YORK -- Yes, Chris Rock, there is a Santa Claus.
Parents with young children who happened to watch "Everybody Hates Chris" in the past week had some explaining to do when the character of Rock's brother suddenly told his younger sister that Santa doesn't exist.
"Everybody knows there's no Santa Claus," Drew said to Tonya on the UPN sitcom. "Come here, let me show you something. I'm taking you to the toys ... Santa doesn't come down the chimney. We don't even have a chimney. We have radiators."
Disillusioned, she stomps out of the room.
But wait. It gets worse.
Put on the spot, Tonya's dad Julius tells her the Easter bunny and tooth fairy don't exist, either.
"Somebody better give me my teeth back," the girl fumes.
A blindsided UPN received "a handful" of complaints about the Santa expose on its sitcom based loosely on comic Rock's life growing up in Brooklyn, a spokeswoman said. This is a series whose use of the n-word in its first episode passed with relatively little notice.
The Santa episode, titled "Everybody Hates Christmas," aired on Dec. 15 and was repeated on Monday.
"'Everybody Hates Chris' is a semi-autobiographical show," said Ali LeRoi, its executive producer and co-creator. "We try to get humor out of tough subject matters. It never occurred to me what a 6-year-old would think about the subject of Santa."
Not, at least, until busted by his own 6-year-old son. LeRoi admitted that his boy was upset when he saw the episode.
"My wife told him it was just a TV show and to ignore it," he said. "It worked. He believes her. Kids trust their parents that way."
There's no word on whether Rock knew his show could be a holiday spoiler. His spokesman didn't return telephone and e-mail messages for comment.
On the show, young Tonya becomes a lot more cynical. Her mother explains that Santa Claus is a symbol and asks: "So you do understand?"
"Yeah," the girl replies. "It's OK to lie."