A simple Dom Com set in Houston, Texas, and starring Reba McEntire.Reba has to deal with her divorce from a cheating husband, the new (pregnant) wife he left her for, her oldest daughter's teenage pregnancy and hasty marriage, and being a newly single parent to three kids, all the while cracking numerous jokes at the ex's new wife. Despite its slapstick premise, the show exhibited a surprising amount of genuinely touching emotion.Ignoring your own partiality (or lack thereof) to country music/culture, the show was popular enough to stay on the air for six seasons, even surviving the destruction of the network that originally aired it.
This show provides examples of:
555: 555-0165, the number for one of Kyra's one-time boyfriends.
Aborted Arc: Part of the first season involved the Harts going to court-ordered therapy after a knock-down drag-out fight at divorce court. This all but disappeared after the first season, until much later in the show's run (the fifth season).
Absentee Actor / Written-In Infirmity: Kyra was absolutely nowhere to be seen for the vast majority of Season 5 (20 out of 22 episodes), because of Scarlett Pomers' battle with anorexia.
An even bigger one: "I always thought I'd be a singer." Hi there, Queen of Country...
Yet another example:
Jake: Wouldn't it be cool to be on TV?
Reba: Nah. I think it would be cool to be a singer.
Yet another, when Reba is planning Van and Cheyenne's vow renewals, Cheyenne comments how she's making everything so fancy. Reba turns and say, "Well, Fancy is my name." "Fancy" was one of Reba McEntire's most popular (and some would say signature) song.
Reba's statement towards the minor character played by Kelly Clarkson: "If she goes on TV, America's going to love her." Just about anyone who knows how the first season of American Idol ended would understand the humor from that sentence.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Barbra Jean's account of a private investigator she hired to tail Brock during their separation: "He followed you everywhere you went: to your dental office, to the golf course... to that tanning salon you say you don't go to", much to Brock's embarrassment.
Also, Reba about Kyra's boyfriend's parents:
Reba: They could be drunks, or convicts, or telemarketers for all I know!
As the Good Book Says: Parodied in the episode "And God Created Van." Van goes through a crisis of faith after an injury derails his lifelong goal of being a pro-football player, and he says outright he no longer believes in God. This horrifies his very-conservative family, especially Barbara Jean. She brings the Bible to him, saying she found a passage that might help him.
Barbara Jean: If you look here at Matthew 12 Verse 3 "And Jesus says unto his disciples..." (Closes the book and starts beating him with it.) What is wrong with you boy?! Do you want to spend eternity in a fiery damnation?!
And a second later, we saw where she got the idea.
Reba: Barbara Jean, you're not gonna get anybody to believe by hitting them with a Bible.
In the last few seasons, Brock and Barbara Jean had their marriage collapse. He moved back out, they were constantly arguing, and Brock felt the only real way to salvage it was to pull The Baby Trap on Barbara Jean (having his vasectomy reversed without telling her.)
Any real mention of Reba and Brock's marriage implied it was pretty bad as well, especially during the end. Alongside Brock's infidelity, Brock frequently skipped out on his and Reba's marriage counseling appointments, Reba was put on anti-depressants, and she talks so badly about the end of their marriage, you almost wonder why she didn't thank Barbara Jean for putting their marriage out of its misery.
Back in the first seasons, Brock and BJ go and visit BJ's father, "Big Daddy." He takes a superior attitude with Brock for leaving his first wife, and says that Big Daddy and his wife were married for over 50 years... "mostly because she's too ugly to kiss goodbye." Brocks calls him on this, saying that yes, he's divorced, but he would never talk that way about his wife.
In all honesty, the healthiest marriage on this show was Van and Cheyenne, believe it or not, who seemed rather stable under all their arguing.
Belligerent Sexual Tension: Van and Cheyenne. They argue often, but there's no question about the authenticity of their love. One episode during Season 5 has each of them two taking turns complaining about the other in a therapist's office, embracing each other when they finish, and then getting told off for arguing soon after (in the waiting area of said therapist's office and at the parking lot outside).
Berserk Button: Played for laughs, it's not so much "berserk" as "reacting strongly" .
In one episode, Reba and Van see a therapist named David. It's "David", not "Dave"! Some might say this is more a case of Insistent Terminology.
Barbra Jean loathes being called "Blondzilla".
Reba gets upset if/when she gets compared to Barbra Jean and is told she's no better.
Blind Mistake: Reba in one episode, during which she tries to take care of herself while still recovering from an eye surgery ("tries" being the operative word here, as drinking water out of a potted plant and spreading peanut butter on a sponge doesn't count as proof of the ability to successfully take care of oneself), with Barbra Jean attempting to help Reba without Reba knowing.
After the school charity auction held by Reba and Barbra Jean turns out to be a big hit, Brock mentions that tradition dictates a celebration party must be held to commemorate the sponsors, where Reba is obligated to congratulate Barbra Jean and vice versa. Reba tells Brock there's nothing she'd rather do, but waits till Brock leaves before whispering to herself: "Pencil in the eye, that's what I'd rather do."
Seeing Reba and a man kiss each other had this effect on Jake ("Ah! My eyes!"), though he saw it happen only once.
"Crap" gets stated when a character is forced to acknowledge and accept unpleasant truth. Reba uses it most often, but Brock, Van, Cheyenne, and Barbra Jean each have also used it at least once.
Barbra Jean has one, though it only happens in one episode: "Yoo hoo! I'm here! And I'm thin!"
Catchphrase Interruptus: Barbra Jean's announcement upon her entry (though this lasts only one episode) gets cut off by Reba once:
Barbra Jean: Yoo hoo! I'm here! And I'm —
Reba: Oh, shut up and grab a doughnut!
The Cast Showoff: Surprisingly averted for a sitcom based around one of country music's most famous stars - Reba did sing, but it was rarely a big production. (On the other hand, she did sing the theme song and some of the soundtrack.)
Overlapping with Casting Gag. Twice during the show, Cheyenne and Van's marriage was tested by another woman. The first time was Kate, a business associate of Van's that Cheyenne was insanely jealous of. The second was a woman named Bridgit, who was a former classmate of theirs (and enemy of Cheyenne) who made a pass at Van to torment Cheyenne. Both characters were played by Sarah Shahi, who is now Steve Howey's wife (although they were only dating/engaged at the time.)
Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: In one episode where Barbra Jean goes on a diet. One example involves her making a comment about Jake: "When he runs, he kind of looks like a little chicken, don't you think?"
Cordon Bleugh Chef: Barbra Jean is usually good at cooking, but she falls into this in one episode where she bakes a sugar-free bran cake with cottage cheese as frosting. Van's reaction is: "Do you know what would go well with the cake? A big cup of dirt." Barbra Jean isn't pleased by the comment.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: Jake once gripes to Cheyenne about having Kyra as babysitter because Kyra makes him watch "The Wiggles" with his niece. Kyra, standing right behind Jake, replies: "Keep complaining. I got Barney tapes here."
After Reba wrecks Rhonda, Van gets back at her by calling Barbra Jean to tell her of Reba's temporary blind condition, knowing full well that she would rush to Reba's aid despite Reba's dislike of having Barbra Jean around.
*Cough* Snark *Cough*: Van does it once to Cheyenne by saying "* cough* baloney!", leading to an argument betwixt them.
Cringe Comedy: The whole show can be this. Especially if you've been close to someone with a teen pregnancy or messy divorce and know how much emotional baggage there can be.
Cry Cute: Kyra is downright adorable during the few times she cries.
Cut Himself Shaving: Brock claims this trope regarding a suspicious injury near his right ear in an episode in which Barbra Jean's dog goes missing. It turns out the dog bit him, but he insists he never hurt the dog and is soon cleared of the charge.
It is absolutely phenomenal what Reba can convey with merely a quirk of her eyebrow. Mostly "I hate your living guts."
Barbra Jean has her moments as well — see the Cordon Bleugh Chef entry above for one such example, or when Reba was in the hospital for high blood pressure. Reba was trying to relax, and Barbara Jean was pestering her with a video camera. Brock tries to run her off to let Reba relax, and Barbara Jean dons one as she's threatening to rip out his beating heart to give to Reba. Made even more effective since the POV switched to the handheld camera, which was pointing up Barbara Jean's nose, making her look even more terrifying.
Dramatic Pause: Several times throughout the series. Example include Jake's opinion to Van's poem dedicated to Rhonda: "It's great... to a second grader.", as well as Cheyenne's announcement of her homemade meal: "Dinner will be ready in 10 minutes... just as soon as the meat stops boiling."
Dreadful Musician: Cheyenne (Reba remarks, after hearing Cheyenne's singing: "No wonder Elizabeth used to cry after Cheyenne sang to her.") and Jake (in the Christmas Episode, Reba convinces Jake to sing loudly knowing Brock and Barbra Jean, who would take Jake to go Christmas caroling with them, would suffer from his singing).
Dream Sequence: Both the second and sixth seasons start with one of these.
Drop-In Character: Brock and Barbra Jean, especially once they purchase a house around the corner to Reba. One episode even has Barbra Jean open the locked back door to let herself in after Reba tries to avoid her by locking the doors and hiding!
Dumb Blonde: Cheyenne and Barbara Jean. Brock was also a little thick-headed at times.
Early-Installment Weirdness: The first season was noticeably different from the rest of the series. Van was more dumb than crazy. Barbra Jean was also a huge Jesus Freak, alongside her other neuroses. Cheyenne was more Alpha Bitch than Ditz. Brock wasn't nearly as vain. Reba was much more the Only Sane Man instead of a control freak. Also, the fact that the show took place in Houston was a much bigger plot point, as the Hart family tried to navigate through Cheyenne's pregnancy around ultra-conservative neighbors, school principals, etc. Much like Married... With Children, the show kind of Flanderized into more of a live-action cartoon, and was funnier for it.
Expy: A snarky couple with three children: A ditzy blonde who married a doofus, a snarky middle child who seems to be the only verbal equal to the snarky matriarch, and a young son who everyone seems to forget about. It's not an exact expy of Roseanne, but it seemed to be a case of what might have happened should Roseanne and Dan get divorced.
Five Temperament Ensemble: Reba (leukine), Barbara Jean (melancholic), Brock (phlegmatic), Cheyanne and Van (sanguine), Kyra (choleric).
Foreshadowing: In one episode, Reba tells Brock of her worry that Kyra might ask to move in with him and Barbra Jean out of frustration of her not letting Kyra getting her way. A season or two later Kyra does tell Brock of her desire to move in with him and Barbra Jean, though not quite for the precise reason mentioned by Reba.
Probably the reasons they stopped using Barbra Jean's initials. In the first season, any time someone called her BJ, there would be a short pause so the untold joke of a woman named BJ having an affair with a married man could land. After the show took a slight turn for the more light-hearted and goofy, she wasn't called BJ nearly as much.
Gilligan Cut: Van temporarily becomes a driver in a pizza joint in order to save up enough money to buy a car. Having no vehicle of his own, he requests Reba to drive him for deliveries. Reba refuses and refuses... and cut to the next scene where she drives him for deliveries, much to her chagrin.
In an earlier episode, Brock begs her to come with him to help him spread his father's ashes on a golf course. She declares, "Uh-uh! Those puppy-dog eyes aren't gonna work on me anymore!" Cut to the golf course, where she stands next to him holding a rake.
Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Reba didn't do this at first, resulting Barbra Jean, who was present at the time, to try to "correct" Reba toward this. In latter seasons Reba is actually doing this rather involuntarily.
Hair Today Gone Tomorrow: A mild example: Brock, in a flash back scene, sported a long mustache prior to his marriage with Reba. In a separate episode, Van, Brock, and Cheyenne turn up in a future scene (six decades or so into the future), in which this trope is played straight with Van (balding) and Brock (completely bald with a wig on top) but subverted in Cheyenne's case (she still has her hair, just not blonde any longer).
Helium Speech: Brock talks this way when he happens to be in charge of balloons for a party Cheyenne throws for Kyra.
Homage: At the end of the episode with the character played by Kelly Clarkson, said character is demonstrating her knowledge about weather forecasting to Barbra Jean (who acts like a host) while Brock, Cheyenne, and Van act as a panel of judges. Does this depiction ring a bell?
Hypocritical Humor: When Barbra Jean claims to be an excellent parent, count on her to have or make some parenting mistake for Reba to call her out on next (for example, if Henry isn't present, Reba would ask "Where's Henry?" and Barbra Jean would realize she left him alone at home and rush back to him).
Important Haircut: Played with. Van gets one once in an effort to blend in with his football teammates. Too bad for him it turns out to be a trick from his teammates.
Informed Ability: The show frequently talked up Van as an incredibly talented football player. Due to the nature of the show, we never saw him play a single game.
Insistent Terminology: Any time someone called Cheyenne a cheerleader, she was quick to point out that she was actually on the drill team, although they did wear similar uniforms and did similar routines. It was justified, however, since any time someone did refer to her as a cheerleader, it was almost always intended as an insult, carrying the "slutty bimbo" connotation.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kyra. Snarky, judgemental, and ill-tempered, but willing to sacrifice her time and dignity to help Barbara Jean through her depression after she and Brock separated.
Lethal Chef: Cheyenne. Barbara Jean tries to teach her in one episode, and it backfires horribly; while drowning her sorrows at her complete failure, she mentions how she taught her niece how to cook lasagna when she was six years old and worked at a church summer camp where she taught blind kids to cook, and she still couldn't make any progress with Cheyenne.
Mistaken for Gay: This happens in one episode with Brock and Van, during which another person mistakenly perceives them as a gay couple. And Reba herself gets stuck with this trope in a different episode. In yet another episode Van assumes a minor character is gay who then gets offended and declares he thought Van was gay. Phew.
Middle Child Syndrome: Kyra. The statement she gave to Brock below could serve as proof of how painfully aware she is of being left out.
Kyra: In mom's family, it goes Elizabeth, Jake, Van, Cheyenne, and then me. When Jake got a turtle, I moved down 1 spot.
Of course, it wasn't without merit. She mentioned that after some money that was raised to send her on a school trip to England had to be given to Cheyenne instead because she had dropped so many classes, she ran the risk of losing Elizabeth's spot in the school day care if she didn't enroll in summer school. Interestingly, in a rare case of this, Reba is painfully aware of it (most cases of this trope will have the parents be oblivious), as Reba told both Cheyenne and Kyra in a couple of gut-wrenching speeches. It was just that Reba only had so many hours in the day and Cheyenne and Van were such screw-ups, they required most of them.
Noodle Incident: Lori Ann and Brock's brief relationship with each other. Brock never bothers to mention it, and Lori Ann...
Lori Ann, when Reba touches upon their dating: Must we bring up all our past sins?
A little earlier in the episode, when Lori Ann is going through her contact to find a guy for Reba.
Lori Ann: Let's see. Married, married, dead, gay, gay, gay.
Reba: Three of them were gay?
Lori Ann: No, just the one, but he came out in a big way.
And then there's this exchange between Reba and Jake when both are at the front porch talking about Reba "going out":
Jake: Mom, am I going to have a new daddy?
Reba: Jake, can you keep a secret?
Jake: Sure, what is it?
Reba: I'm not even seeing anybody. I just pretended to go out on dates to get away from the loony bin.
Jake: I hear ya. Dad and I didn't really join the scouts.
Reba: So what have you two been doing all these Saturday afternoons?
Jake: Hey, are we keeping secrets or not? (walks into the house)
Ask Cheyenne about her experience in competing for Homecoming Queen, and all you'd get to hear would be "I was robbed!!" for your trouble.
No Sparks: In one episode, Reba is trying to get back into the dating game and goes out with her old college boyfriend. She enjoys the date up until the goodbye kiss, in which she feels nothing. This causes her to remember why she left him for Brock.
Reba, after watching a recorded clip of Barbra Jean with her dog: I feel bad for the poor sap who had to tape through all of this.
Kyra: Eighty bucks is eighty bucks.
Only Sane Man: Reba, who is surrounded by idiots in her family: Brock keeps screwing up in parenting advice for his children, Cheyenne and Van may as well be suicidal with their own parental skills and life choices, and Barbra Jean is...herself. The only ones not really insane are Kyra and Jake.
Playing Sick: Both Kyra and Jake try to do this once, and this trick fails for them both.
Put on a Bus: Lori Ann (Reba's friend) and Eugene (a rival dentist to Brock). Eugene's was justified, since Brock decided to sell his dental practice to play professional golf (thereby deflating their rivalry.) Lori Ann simply had to go because Barbara Jean was slowly sliding into her role as Reba's best friend.
Reality Subtext: Melissa Peterman's weight loss and Scarlett Pomers' eating disorder are both written into the script.
Reba was the highest rated show on the WB, but when it merged with UPN to form CW, they were going for a different demographic, and it wasn't sure if the show would make it through the merge. Due to financial penalties (see Un-Cancelled below), The CW ordered 13 episodes for a sixth season.
Despite a promising performance in its sixth season (the show was the highest rated sitcom on the new network and increased the ratings from the shows previously slotted there), the show was cancelled since it was felt that it didn't hit the right demographics.
And such moves seemed to have not gone unnoticed, if the following exchange was of any indication:
Van: If you take away loyalty and ethics from business, do you know what you got?
Shower of Awkward: Poor Reba goes through this once when she accidentally walks into Brock taking a shower — which doesn't help her to relax, as her next sentence makes clear: "What is that orange manatee doing in my shower?!"
Theme Tune Cameo: We catch Barbra Jean singing the eponymous chorus line of "I'm a Survivor."
The Thing That Would Not Leave: Reba saw almost everybody like this, notably Brock and especially Barbra Jean, who seemed to have no concept of personal boundaries. There were the occasional whispers that she felt this way about Van and Cheyenne as well. While she loved them dearly and cared for them unconditionally, she occasionally mentioned how she hoped that they would get their situation straightened out (and therefore move) sooner rather than later.
Reba herself starts to become this towards Van and Cheyenne when they finally settle in their own house.
There's more. During the fifth season finale, Reba is faced with the prospect of a surgery. Van consoles the worried Cheyenne with: "She'll be all right. She's a survivor."
This Is Reality: Lampshaded by Van in one episode ("That speech Cheyenne gave was great, but we don't live in a speech. We live in Houston.") and Brock in another ("We don't live in a utopia. We live in suburbia, where life is cheap!").
Un-Canceled: The show was effectively (though not officially) cancelled after its 5th season upon the merger of UPN and The WB into The CW. However, finances saved the show - The WB had renewed the show for two seasons the previous year, and the new network would be on the hook to the producers if a sixth season was not ordered.
And when Reba actually refrains from insulting Barbra Jean, she takes offense, and mentions how, as "The Other Woman," she's always victim to gossiping and false friendliness from everyone else, and prefers Reba's rather harsh (but honest) jokes and teasing instead of the false sincerity from everyone else.
Why Waste a Wedding?: Subverted. Brock and Barbara Jean decide to renew their vows at Cheyenne and Van's vow renewal to stall for time while said young couple is having a fight (and then Brock quickly tries to backpedal when Van mentions splitting the cost with them,) but an extremely stressed Reba faints from high blood pressure before that happens.
This may have been intentional. In the episode "For Sale, Cheap," where Van mistakes the man (Terry) for being gay (and vice-versa), Terry explains that he runs a jewelery store along with his wife and another business partner. In fact, his previous reference to him as his "partner" is one of the reasons why he was Mistaken for Gay in the first place.