"My name is Cleveland Brown, and I am proud to be Right back in my hometown, with my new family There’s old friends and new friends, and even a bear Through good times and bad times, it’s true love we share And so I found a place, where everyone will know My happy mustached face, this is the Cleveland show!" *giggle*
—The Cleveland Show Theme Song
The Cleveland Show is a Family GuySpin-Off starring bit character Cleveland Brown. The show follows Cleveland's new life in his hometown in Virginia as he remarries his old flame Donna and settles down to raise his own child, Cleveland Jr., now a morbidly obese, shy boy, and his two stepchildren, teenager Roberta and five-year-old Rallo.It still takes place in the same universe as Family Guy and the characters have even crossed paths in his show on occasion. But like American Dad, the series is gradually stepping out of the shadow of its predecessors to find its own brand of humor, developing the title character as far more sympathetic than the other leads and using a more subtle comic style throughout. It has fewer cutaways, but they are still there.The series was launched in September, 2009. Notable for being renewed for a second season before the first episode had even aired, supposedly due to positive reaction to a deliberately leaked pilot. The fourth season began airing in October 2012. In April 2013, it was announced that the show had been cancelled, but Fox denied these rumors. In May 2013, Fox announced that the show would not be returning, and no more episodes would be produced, effectively ending the series.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Cleveland's parents Cookie and "Freight Train". Even Donna shows this to some degree; in some episodes she seems to express some amount of dissatisfaction with Cleveland and pines for her neglectful ex-husband Robert.
All Love Is Unrequited: Arguably the case with Tim. He's indicated at least a couple of times that he has a crush on Donna.
Ascended Extra: Dr. Fist, who went from being a minor character voiced by Seth MacFarlane (and later Tom Kenny) before getting a full episode late in the 4th season, during which he was voiced by Bryan Cranston. After which, he became a main member of Cleveland's drinking buddies, still voiced by Cranston.
Which begs the question, whatever happened to Terry?
Author Filibuster: Subverted. Cleveland takes time out of the episode to complain about what's wrong with America today. This looks like it would be an Author Filibuster. However it turns out that it's just a set up for another gag, and that Cleveland was merely reciting lines from a play.
Black Gal On White Guy Drama: Roberta dates Federline, a white man. Rollo (during a black supremacist phase) asks his sister why she's going out with a white guy, she answers with "Do I look like a white girl? Or an Asian girl, or a..."
Characterization Marches On: Tim the Bear was devoutly religious in the early episodes, and he was a smoker but kept it a secret from his wife. This was dropped as the series went on.
Chekhov's Skill: Combined with a Brick Joke. At the beginning of one episode, Cleveland Jr. slowly rolls into the scene, explaining that he's practicing what he would do if he were on fire. This looks like usual Cleveland Jr. weirdness until a house he is in catches fire at the end.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Cleveland's somewhat boring best friend Terry had his screen time significantly drop only AFTER he was finally given a trait that sets him apart from the other friends (he's bisexual). He eventually disappeared altogether only to be replaced be an even less interesting character, Dr. Fist.
Cleveland and Lester's lawsuit was settled this way.
Cringe Comedy: Believe it or not, even though the humor is more subdued, Mike Henry runs a show that is considerably more messed up and cringe-worthy than Seth McFarlane's other shows. While Family Guy is Crossing the Line Twice and American Dad takes Refuge in Audacity, The Cleveland Show is completely comfortable with everyone else getting uncomfortable.
Crossover: The first third of the pilot is a crossover with originating show Family Guy (in fact, it's exactly like a regular Family Guy episode), where it's explained why Cleveland's leaving Quahog (his divorce with Loretta was finalized and she got the house, and he was tired of always being the Butt Monkey in Peter's jokes/schemes/insanity). Then his theme song plays after all those minutes, and the frame ratio switches to widescreen!
Cleveland: I've got to stop taking baths during Peter's shenanigans!
Crowd Song: "Small Ass Town (Big Ass Hearts)" from the episode, "The Blue, The Gray, and The Brown".
The Danza: Arianna Huffington as Arianna the Bear.
Deadpan Snarker: Cleveland's mother Cookie, to anyone who isn't her son or grandchildren. Especially Donna.
Deep South: The show takes place in the fictional town of Stoolbend, Virginia, and one of Cleveland's neighbors seems to be an out-and-out racist.
Stoolbend is based heavily on Richmond, Virginia, where Mike Henry (the voice actor for Cleveland and co-creator of the show) grew up. During the opening theme, especially, many of the scenes are literally cartoon versions of parts of Richmond.
This parallels the way Family Guy's Quahog, Rhode Island, is based on Providence, where Seth McFarland went to college.
American Dad also takes place in Virginia, but in the eastern part of the state which is much more affluent and "northern" due to its proximity to Washington DC. So we get two related shows portraying the same state in very different ways.
Demoted to Extra: Roberta was demoted to this a little into the first season, having very little screen time and even less dialog. She is also currently the only member of Cleavland's new family that hasn't met the Griffins. However this was mainly due to her voice actress on maternity leave.
Donna meets the Griffins when she and Cleveland have extended cameos in a Family Guy episode in 2011.
It would have been commendable of the show to reveal that Cleveland's womanizing best friend Terry is bisexual and in a relationship with a man voiced by Justin Timberlake...if it weren't for the fact that Terry was demoted to extra immediately afterwards. To add insult to injury, Terry was eventually replaced by the forgettable Dr. Fist in later episodes.
Deus ex Machina: Whenever any characters find themselves heading toward an Inevitable Waterfall, the scene will cut off and then cut back to them thanking the magical talking walrus Mr. Flippers for somehow saving them.
Disproportionate Retribution: Donny in "Nightmare On Grace Street". Because Cleveland mocked his bee costume and his puns, he tries to kill Cleveland and his family!
Distracted by the Sexy: Lester, Holt and Tim by Roberta in a skimpy bikini in the season two episode 'Fat And Wet.'
Double Standard: Abuse—Female on Male: Averted and played straight at once. One episode involves Cleveland trying to find a girlfriend for Holt. He succeeds, but it's not long before he and his friends discover that she's been physically abusive to him. When they go to confront her about this, she responds by beating the crap out of each of them (even Tim the bear). None of them fight back because they Wouldn't Hit a Girl. Predictably, this is to set up a Designated Girl Fight with Donna near the end of the episode.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: The scene where Kendra falls on top of Rallo and he escapes from under her by talking about food, which causes her to sweat so that he can slide out.
Double Entendre Cleveland unintentionally does one when he tries to get someone to play with Cleveland Jr. Hilarity ensues.
For a nonsexual example, in "My Gang" Cleveland gets the task of changing some troublemakers from Stoolbend High to good kids. He wants to do this by making them sell a product, and pitches that they sell cookies - though the way he describes the business strategy sounds suspiciously like selling drugs which the kids notice and do. Hilarity Ensues.
Double Standard: Rape—Female on Male: The Essence of Cleveland, the formerly fat Patty drugs Cleveland then steals a sample of his 'essence', planning to impregnate herself with it. While Cleveland is understandably squicked by this, Donna blames Cleveland for it because she told him not to see the woman. The whole situation is, as always, played for laughs.
The Every Man: This was pretty much Cleveland's role on Family Guy as well, considering how disturbing Peter, Quagmire and even Joe acted at times.
Expy: A bit here and there, but actually averted to some degree.
While (for example) Rallo fills much the same role as Stewie, their actual personalities have so far proven to be vastly different.
Probably lampshading the baseless Expy labeling, Cleveland's father refers to Rallo as "Black Stewie" in the most recent episode.
This suggests that Cleveland's parents already knew the Griffins, the Swansons, Quagmire, the Goldmans, and most of the characters in Quahog.
Roberta, the resident Meg stand-in, seems to be fairly popular and well-liked.
However, she seems to be following Meg's footsteps in terms of screentime. See Out of Focus below.
Brian has some similarities to Tim, both tending to be the voices of reason in their respective shows, both being talking animals(a dog and a bear respectively), and both voiced by MacFarlane. However Tim has so far proven to have very little in common with Brian. The most obvious difference being that Tim is devoutly religious (but not a Straw Fundamentalist). On one occasion when he believed he was the cause of Cleveland's misfortune, was shown to be genuinely distressed.
Cleveland Junior, who was originally a thin, smart, hyperactive kid in Family Guy, has become a physical duplicate of Chris. Their intelligence levels and personalities are pretty different though.
Side character Kenny West is not the same person as Kanye West (who actually provides the voice). He just sounds like him, looks like him, lives the same lifestyle, is exactly as famous for doing exactly the same thing, and once accidentally called himself Kanye.
Fan Disservice: Donna without her make-up, padding, wig or false teeth. And no, it's not just a one-time gag. It's canon.
Fanservice: If you had a liking for Terry, then you'll love the episode "Brotherly Love".
Roberta's no slouch in this department either, and sometimes she even does it intentionally. Two good example are the episodes Fat And Wet & To Live And Die In VA which have Roberta in a bikini in the former and dressed as Slave Leia in the latter.
Furry Confusion: Tim (An anthropomorphic bear) had apparently been donating to money to "Fight bear aids", for it to go to a cutaway gag of a badly mauled scientist coming out of his lab and another asking if he got the condom on a (Probably) normal bear.
Gasshole: Auntie Momma, who is outrageous. Cleveland also temporarily becomes this after Donna puts him on a high-fiber diet.
Genius Ditz: In one episode Cleveland Jr. is able to create a suit of power armor complete with a shoulder mounted gatling gun out of nothing but pots and pans.
Girl on Girl Is Hot: Cleveland's last wish before leaving is to watch Lois and Bonnie make out.
Golden Snitch: In Coolympics, the last round determined everything. Subverted because Cleveland (who was losing) lost it too, and lost the whole game.
Also used in two jokes where Tim is sitting a strip club. He mentions that being in one is (pause) awkward since he wears no pants when Cleveland asks him why he's sitting all alone. Of course, this ties into the follow up joke where Tim gets up to give Cleveland a hug.
Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Hinted at being so for Kendra before whatever happened to make her gain the weight. Other characters refuse to let her reveal much information of this, however.
Lampshade Hanging: Quite common. For example, in the episode where Roberta disguises herself as Tyra in a fat suit to learn a lesson about getting by on other qualities than your looks, Cleveland, upon discovering this, remarks "What the hell kind of comedy high school do you go to anyway?"
Of course, then a Teen Wolf walks right past the two of them.
They didn't even need to evoke this trope in Family Guy's case (same franchise), and arguably, The Simpsons as well, since that show does air on Fox and a Family Guy episode has shown Homer's famous "D'oh!" without consequence.
The third season premiere has a couple examples. When Cleveland visits the Griffin house, Stewie asks if his show had been cancelled. In the end, after stopping the rednecks, Peter pointed out that they would've showed the rape on his show and then did a song about it. Cleveland adds that in that case he would've "just been the black guy."
In one episode Cleveland goes into the basement and finds the writers and animators working on that very show. In a nod to the Daffy Duck cartoon "Duck Amuck", one animator briefly gives Cleveland a tail. Amusingly, an animated Mike Henry can be seen in the background recording the very lines Cleveland's currently speaking.
Missing Mom: Donna's mother, Dee Dee Tubbs. she was a singer in a 60s girl group who gave birth to Donna at 19. Wanting to maintain her singing career, she gave Donna to her brother Kevin, aka Auntie Momma.
Mysterious Past: Kendra, apparently. She has started a few flashbacks about her past life, which looks quite glamorous (at one point she was married to a nobleman), but before she can elaborate someone always tells her to shut up.
Rallo takes his girlfriend to a Cheesy Charlie's. Their Quahog location was supposed to host Stewie's first birthday party, but Peter cancelled.
Negative Continuity: In "Brown History Month" it was implied Lester and Kendra are related, but in "To Live and Die in VA" the very next season, it was revealed Kendra was a guidance counselor in Lester's school and she made him drop out so they could be together.
Nerds Are Virgins: When Jr. swore to remain a virgin until marriage, Cleveland tried to scare him straight by taking him to a sci-fi convention. It backfired when Cleveland bough a ton of Worf merchandise.
According to a DVD Commentary, that episode was actually shown at a comic-con, and when Cleveland talked about where virginity would lead, and it cut to the convention hall, the audience was laughing so hard, they couldn't hear the rest of the scene.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Federline Jones, Roberta's boyfriend, is quite similar to Kevin Federline. There is also Uncle Kevin/Auntie Momma, who is quite obviously an expy for Tyler Perry / Madea.
No Periods, Period: Averted with Roberta which Rallo finds this out the hard way. It then leads to a Mistaken for Dying plot until Donna explains to Rollo that women are supposed to do that.
N-Word Privileges: When rescuing Lester from an angry mob of black people in Harlem, who were using him as a pinata because he referred to one of them as "that word you [Cleveland] call Rallo all the time", Cleveland says that white guys with at least one black friend get one free use of the N-word (which was a bluff, but it did save Lester's neck).
When Rallo fell down the stairs, he accuses Cleveland of calling him "the N-word," with Cleveland saying, "What? I'm allowed to say it. Right?"
Obfuscating Disability: In "Beer Walk", after Donna broke her leg, Cleveland had to do all of her chores. However, since Donna finally has her husband do some work, she fakes her injury after she's healed. It took a Batman Gambit to snap her out of it.
Obfuscating Stupidity: One of the show's recurring gags is Cleveland trying to figure out if Junior is doing this.
Out of Focus: Roberta, who seems to be following in the footsteps of Meg and Hayley in terms of screen time. Lampshaded on the "Cleveland Show Live" episode in which a drunken Roberta crashes the performance several times after her debate team B-story was cut.
Still in full force by the end of season 2. You could make the argument that Meg or Hayley have more screentime in half a season than Roberta has had throughout the entire series so far.
Lampshaded again at the end of "Ain't Nothin' But Mutton Bustin". After the plot, which revolved mainly around Rallo and Junior going missing, is resolved, and Cleveland remarks how glad he is that all of his kids are home, Roberta walks in for her first appearance all episode.
Cleveland: Oh yeah, I have three kids...
Painting the Medium: The first act of the pilot takes place in Quahog, where everything is fullscreen. The rest of the Cleveland show takes place in Stoolbend, where everything is widescreen.
In Our Gang, Cleveland is told by the leader of the Stoolbloods that if he doesn't get the cocaine, he'll kill Cleveland Jr. in ten minutes. Guess how much running time is left.
A commercial break later, everyone took two off-screen minutes to go to the bathroom.
Parody Episode: The episode "Die Semi-Hard" is a parody of the first Die Hard movie with Cleveland in the John McClane role and the regular and supporting cast of the show filling out the rest.
Ping Pong Naïveté: Similar to Stewie, Rallo frequently switches back and forth between Kindergarten-level intelligence and adult intelligence depending on the joke.
Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: In the season three opener before Peter and the Evil Monkey rescue Cleveland and friends from the rednecks: "Leggo my negro."
Pretty in Mink: A few furs, including Donna having worn one for a Blaxploitation film she did years before, and then we Rallo sees her getup, complains that he got in trouble for wearing a mink coat and underwear for a school photo.
Played somewhat straighter with Tim's wife, Arianna, who makes a comment that Rallo cursing Santa and Christmas at a pageant is what happens "when you put a Jew in charge of a Christmas pageant."
Arianna criticizes Donna for being a single mother (something that she despises), even though her husband walked out on HER. Ironically and hypocritically, she cheated on Tim on "Cleveland Show Lived" and Donna criticizes her.
Running Gag: Usually whenever Quagmire makes a brief appearance, he's always complaining about how he never got a spin off.
Quagmire: Wow. They really made it through the whole season. Hey Peter, can I have my own series, now? Peter: Quagmire, you're a rapist.
Sassy Black Woman: Roberta, though thankfully without the stereotypical "Mmmm-hmmm!" MOST of the time anyway. She *has* dropped one or two in the course of the show.
Donna may not SAY "Mmm-hmm!" but she reads a magazine with that title!
Satellite Love Interest: Donna has received some criticism for being nothing more than a stereotypical sassy black woman. Possibly lampshaded in "Your Show of Shows". At the end of the episode Donna asks for her own show, when asked what she can do, she pulls out a recorder and plays a very basic tune.
Serial Escalation: The show was renewed for a second season before the first episode even aired, as mentioned above. Also mentioned above, the show was renewed for a third season... less than three weeks after the first season ended.
Slapstick Knows No Gender: Usually played straight, while not as frequent as with male characters, the female cast are often slapstick prone. Inverted in "Gone With The Wind" when Loretta falls victim to the same falling bathtub Running Gag as Cleveland and dies instantly.
Spoof Aesop: Cleveland uses Holt to cheat his way to a baseball championship, but upon seeing that he's teaching Cleveland Jr. that it's okay to cheat, he calls it off and the team loses. Cleveland congratulates himself for doing the right thing, but Donna points out that he still cheated in several games, prevented more deserving teams from a chance at the championship and only backed off at the very last moment.
Spinoff Sendoff: The pilot episode starts in Quahog as Cleveland tells his friends about his troubles and he decides to move away.
"Buried Pleasure": Kendra body-slams Jane. She falls onto the screen and it cuts to black.
“Well Done Son” Guy: Cleveland has shades of this, but equal emphasis is placed on Cleveland having to let go of the old-fashioned "manly" rules he most likely grew up with. Also with Cleveland with his at-best strained relationship with his father LeVar "Freight Train" Brown.
Wham Line: from the hurricane ep, I don't believe in Jesus from Cleveland Jr.
You Must Be This Tall To Ride: Rollo is exited to go to an amusement park because he's finally tall enough to ride on the roller coaster. But when he gets there they measure him not counting his Giant Afro and he's still too short.