Family Time: A welcomed sitcom for this genre

Omar Gooding Jr. with Angela Cornwell on the set of BounceTV's sitcom "Family Time."
Omar Gooding Jr. with Angela Cornwell on the set of BounceTV's sitcom "Family Time."
Omar Gooding Jr. with Angela Cornwell on the set of BounceTV’s sitcom “Family Time.”

NORTHRIDGE, CA-Bounce TV, the first–ever over-the-air broadcast television network designed for African American audiences feature a hit original series, Family Time.

Family Time, a popular sitcom going on to their fourth season is a show based on a black family who lives in the suburbs. Forewarning, this show is not your “average” black family sitcom; it’s better. It chronicles the lives of the Stallworth family who relocated to the suburbs of Windsor Hills, California. Headed by dad Tony Stallworth (Omar Gooding), a struggling general contractor, and his wife Lisa (Angell Conwell), an unfulfilled stay-at-home mom.

They are high school sweethearts who have two children Devin (Bentley Kyle Evans, Jr.) and Ebony (Jayla Calhoun) as they make up their own rules to love, marriage and family along the way. When they are not battling each other, they are contending with a host of family, friends and neighbors, including Lisa’s feisty sisters Rachel (Tanjareen Martin-Thomas) and Lori (Paula Jai Parker).

Omar Gooding shared how Family Time relates to today’s black family.

“We tackle current issues. We don’t go the old school, cliché stuff. We talk about stuff that went on in the 90s, to social media and being young parents raising teenagers in this day in age. We even speak on financial issues and learning to communicate with one another,” said Gooding.

Actresses, Angell Conwell and Tanjareen Thomas on set with Salt-N-Pepa for the scene when they impersonate the hip-hop duo.
Actresses Angell Conwell and Tanjareen Thomas on set with Salt-N-Pepa for the scene when they impersonate the hip-hop duo.

The half-hour episodes are created and produced by Bentley Kyle Evans (The Jamie Foxx Show, Martin, Love That Girl) and is produced by Evans and partner Trenton Gumbs (Love That Girl).

Director Bentley Kyle Evans shared what inspired him to create Family Time.

“I was inspired because, at the time there were no other black families on television. Now we have TV shows, like Black-ish and a couple others but, when we first started it was just us. I wanted to make sure that the family experience from a black standpoint is represented, again. I jumped right in, put the pen to the paper and came up with an African American-themed show that I really can be proud of,” said Evans.

What makes this show different from any other black family sitcom is the relationship on and off the set. The title of the show is suiting because; being on set is truly like spending time with family. The Family Time cast is more than just co-workers; some are actually related and/or married.

Family Time director Bentley Kyle Evans’ son is one of the characters on the show. The set-dresser playing his wife, Rachel, is played by Tanjareen Martin-Thomas. Martin-Thomas  is married to one of the characters in season three, Clayton Thomas, who plays Tony Stallworth’s best friend, Donnie.

(L to R) Actresses on set of 80s theme episode- Angell Conwell (Lisa Stallworth), Tanjareen Thomas (Rachel Calloway), and Paula Jai Parker (Lori Calloway)
(L to R) Actresses on set of 80s theme episode of Family Time are Angell Conwell (Lisa Stallworth), Tanjareen Thomas (Rachel Calloway), and Paula Jai Parker (Lori Calloway).

“The environment of Family Time is so much more; even if you’re not blood family. Everybody on the set is family. We have whites, Mexicans and Asians; everybody. We are all family and when you get on set, you feel that vibe. No one has a big ego or rude. It is all fun,” said Clayton Thomas.

Actress Paula Jai Parker calls Family Time “a family set.”

“This is a family set. Everyone in Bentley’s family is working on the show; from his son, to his daughter, to his wife and his sister. That is nepotism at its highest form,” said Parker. “There is so much love. We all love and respect each other and we are all professionals. You guys seem to love it and we enjoy doing it. I think that shows.”

Reporter Thai Lee had the opportunity to attend a taping for an episode featuring guest stars, rap duo, Salt-n-Pepa (Cheryl James and Sandra Denton). The taping was held at black owned, Harvest Studios in Northridge, California. The episode is based upon sister, Lori (Paula Jai Parker) hosting a 80s-themed costume party for charity and calls on the girls from her old rap group, Salt-n-Pepa, to perform.  The episode is a part of season three and will premiere on Bounce TV in fall 2015.

“Being on set is like family,” said Sandra “Pepa” Denton. “I am bumping into a lot of people that we know on the set. It’s very welcoming and warm. I can see why it’s called Family Time.”

Family Time viewership endures to grow and remains one of Bounce TV’s most successful original series.  Bounce TV is the only free over the air option for African American viewers. Almost a quarter of African American homes do not have cable or satellite, so Bounce TV is the only source of programming for those viewers. To keep up with Family Time and the cast, join them on social media @BounceTV and at their site, www.bouncetv.com/shows/family-time.

Thai Lee
About Thai Lee 39 Articles
I am a recent graduate from the University of Central Missouri. I majored in Digital Media Production with an emphasis in news. My aspiration is to become a television Journalist.