A Classic TV Retrospective
Reba, the sitcom, which originally aired on The WB/CW network from 2001 to 2006, and which remains popular in reruns, is a standout in the new history of now-classic television shows.
In short, Reba rocks on so many levels, and let’s not waste any time in breaking it down:
Reba the human being: First and foremost, the series stars Reba McEntire, who defines everything a star should be — and more. She employs her celebrity for frequent charity events (and a lot more that no one knows about). She was devastated by losing her band manager and six band members and paid tribute to them in 1991 with a hit album, For My Broken Heart. She then heralded in a new age of talent representation by having family members manage her career. She is also dearly loved by her peers and remains an inspiration to them (a pre-superstar, free-spirited Faith Hill once shouted at a McEntire concert, “I love you, Reba McEntire!”)
Reba the singer: Ain’t nobody twangs like Reba McEntire — and she has the pipes and the talent to back it up (as evidenced in her new CD, Room to Breathe). Combined with that awesome Annie Oakley hair (McEntire starred a few years back in a Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun), and the country-singing icon is simply unstoppable.
Reba the songwriter: That’s right. She not only sings those hits, but she writes most of ’em, too.
Reba the actress: Her crimson-colored locks, vocal talents, and natural theatrical ability earned her that Annie Oakley starring role, which lead to her taking the lead in her own sitcom, entitled, none other than, Reba.
Reba the TV character: On Reba, the TV show, McEntire plays Reba Hart, a Texas soccer man who divorces her cheating (though charming) husband Brock Hart (played by Christopher Rich, formerly of Murphy Brown and a short-lived but brilliant The Charmings fantasy sitcom — which aired on ABC, 1987–1988).
Together, Reba and Brock produced three children: 17-year-old Cheyenne, played by Joanna Garcia — who marries Van Montgomery, a stupendous Steve Howey, after he gets her pregnant; the tranquil and ever-wise little seven-year-old Jake (Mitch Holleman); and Kyra (portrayed by the scene-stealing Scarlett Pomers (formerly of Star Trek: Voyager and That’s Life). Into the mix is Brock’s new wife Barbra Jean, played to the hilt by Melissa Peterman, who somehow manages to cross-pollinate Jim Nabor’s Gomer Pyle with Georgia Engel’s Georgette (from The Mary Tyler Moore Show), and makes “the other woman” as appealing as she’s ever gonna’ get.
Reba — the show — does for the contemporary family comedy what Bewitched did for supernatural sitcoms. The characters on Reba interact just like real people. They actually get mad at each other, forgive one another, move-on, and deal with it (just like we all do — or should do). Everything about the show is top of the line. You can’t beat that opening theme song (“I’m A Survivor”) — and the show’s writing is crisp, as is the directing (one episode even guided by former child-star Moosie Laugh-In Drier).
The issues in Reba’s family are real: unplanned teen pregnancy, childhood sweethearts divorce after years of bliss, and teen angst — each experienced, on one level or the other, by McEntire’s Reba Hart — who holds the brood’s brew-ha-ha together. So much so, she joins the ranks of n Carol Brady, Shirley Partridge, and June Cleaver ever could.
So, in effect, and to reiterate: Reba so rocks — on so many levels.
Let’s all continue to watch it and rock with it — for years to come.
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