JEREMY SUAREZ IS KEEPING IT REAL!
As Bernie Mac's 8 year old nephew Jordan (as of the 2001 series premiere), Jeremy Suarez is one of the coolest and funniest little dudes ever on the tube. In the DVD commentary track to the pilot, Bernie Mac describes Jeremy as "my Don Knotts." Invoking the greatest sidekick character in the history of sitcoms rates a pretty bold statement- but young Master Jeremy is just that good.
Jordan's mother (Bernie's sister) has gone to detox, and his dad (or stepdad or whatever) is in prison. The siblings all quite naturally have some serious issues lurking beneath the surface- and sometimes all over the top. So he's quite fortunate to have his rich Uncle Bernie to take him and his sisters in, and try to put him on the right path.
My favorite Jordan moment came from a Thanksgiving show. Young Jordan insisted on spending the day wearing just a breach cloth and a couple of feathers, playing Indian. When Bernie finally insists that he quit his foolishness and go put some clothes on, Jordan replies, "I'm just keeping it real."
Shortly thereafter, Bernie gets deathly ill from eating undercooked turkey. He has animated hallucinations provided courtesy the same company that does MTV's "Celebrity Death Match." Thus this Bernie hallucination:
Jordan is just so cute. He's not cute in a boring and pious manner, but mischievous and sometimes just the least bit malevolent. For example, Uncle Bernie hired him to do away with baby sister's annoying omnipresent doll. Watch Jordan slip into Don Corleone mode, talking about the favor he may ask one day in return. Note the relish with which he puts the doll into the woodchipper. He has a particularly funny special little "evil" laugh.
But he also has a mostly underplayed poignancy. Consider the grief he got for scamming money from Bernie, eventually found to have been spent on a telescope so he can try to see from LA back to his old home in Chicago.
Mostest poignant was when he joined the football team in an attempt to earn his way up onto Bernie's presitgious accomplishment based "Mac Hall of Fame" shelf alongside Bernie's prize high school football trophy. Jordan is skinny and asthmatic, not inclined to be interested in sports, nor likely to excel. His urge to prove himself to Uncle Bernie so compels him, however, that he becomes a star player for his squad- by pushing himself past his physical capacity, and endangering himself. This builds up Uncle Bernie's conflict on whether to stop him after Aunt Wanda strongly suggests pulling him before he badly injures himself.
Of course, sometimes a little dude needs some course correction from his loving uncle: "Jordan's gonna have a case of 'assus beatus redus'. That's Latin for I'm gonna beat his ass until it glows."
Uncle Bernie's exasperated and comically exaggerated threats of corporal punishment work like the never-to-be trips that Alice was going to take to the moon- so far. Thing is, being true to the natural pull of the show towards realness, Uncle Bernie did go for corporal punishment once that I've seen - in the pilot at which point he's had the kids for one day. It was in the aisles of a drug store, ie public, and didn't really work out so good.
Probably most of the credit for the character should go to the writers, but you got to give it up for young Mr. Suarez. He animates the character in a way that is unique. He makes the little dude come to life in lots of little ways. He's quite a good actor.
Bernie Mac will bust your head till the white meat shows!
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