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Series / Hangin' with Mr. Cooper

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Hangin' with Mr. Cooper is an American sitcom that aired on ABC from 1992-1997. For most of its run, it was on the TGIF Friday lineup. Essentially a vehicle for comedian, Mark Curry.

The series centered on former NBA player turned Cool Teacher Mark Cooper (Curry himself), along with his roommates, childhood friend Robin (Dawnn Lewis) and Vanessa (Holly Robinson Peete). Robin was gone in Season 2 and replaced by Mark's cousin from Georgia, Geneva (Saundra Quarterman), and her daughter, Nicole (Raven-Symoné). Next-door-neighbor, Tyler (Marquise Wilson), and Mark's students (most prominently Earvin (Omar Gooding)) regularly dropped by.

This series provides examples of:

  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: In the first episode, Alan Thicke notes that ABC is the number one network alphabetically. Mark immediately agrees.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Nicole at times.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Some episodes have bits where Mark and other characters directly address the audience. Even the first episode had it, with an appearance by Alan Thicke, in character as Jason Seaver at first, before taking the Seaver family portrait off the set with him.
  • Burger Fool: One episode saw one of Mark's students dropping out of school to get a job at Clown Burger. Mark gets forced by P.J. to get him to come back to school, which he does by walking in and being the most obnoxious customer he can be (at least on a family-friendly show), then telling the student that if he wants to work at Clown Burger, he's going to have to put up with customers like that eight hours a day for the rest of his life.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Mark is pretty normal for a basketball coach, but in the classroom, he's this. He can reasonably substitute for courses he knows little of, though he focuses on making things fun and often injects basketball comparisons to get his point across. His in-class behavior tends to rub his stuffier colleagues the wrong way, and P.J. often keeps an eye on him to ensure he doesn't go too far.
  • Christmas Episode: "Miracle in Oaktown" in Season 1, "Santa's Got a Brand New Bag" in Season 2, "Christmas Show" in Season 3, and "Christmas '95" in Season 4.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: Season 3's "High Hopes" ends with Mark leaving for a new job, Vanessa leaving the country with her boyfriend, and P.J. telling Geneva she's going to be fired. Season 4's "Together Again" is just that, with Mark freshly fired from his new job, Vanessa rushing home, and Geneva replaces P.J. as school principal. On the other hand, it should be noted that Mark has to deal with the fallout of leaving the school and proving he didn't just come back to kill time before another job offer comes along.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Mark gets caught lying in "True Lies" about why he can't take Nicole and Tyler to the circus; he claimed he had to visit a sick friend in the hospital, but he was just going to a gathering of sports figures. Nicole is hurt and says she would've gotten grounded for lying, so Mark agrees to just that. He figures it'll be easy, but then his girlfriend reveals her plans changed and that she's in town for the weekend.
  • Cool Teacher: Mark. The first episode, though, highlights the danger of this; the students immediately walk all over him and Earvin pranks him by gluing him to a chair, which nearly gets him fired. Robin (who made the same mistake and suffered similarly) tells him it's okay to make a class fun, but he has to earn their respect first in order to be taken seriously. The next day, Mark lays down the law, gives a heart-to-heart about his motivations, and glues Earvin to a chair. Over time, he becomes so beloved that his temporary departure in-between Seasons 3 and 4 devastates the students.
  • Crossing the Burnt Bridge: When Andre's love of the piano threatens his focus on basketball, Coach Ricketts wants Mark to resolve the situation. Mark wants to keep his boss happy, but he ultimately doesn't have it in him to crush a student's enjoyment. He later tells off Ricketts and insults him, only to learn that Ricketts had already told Andre this wouldn't be an issue, after all. Mark asks for a head start before making a run for it.
  • Crossover: "Hangin' with Michelle" is one with Full House. Mark gets a substitute teaching job in Michelle's class. Jesse also makes a cameo.
  • Disguised in Drag: Tyler in "The Ringer" in order to help Nicole's tee-ball team win a game for once. He understands the wig, but he questions why he needed a sports bra; Mark tells him that was a headband.
  • Embarrassing Relative Teacher: Nicole attends a school where both her mother, Geneva, and her older cousin, Mark Cooper, work. When Nicole has trouble with bullies, both Mark and Geneva step in. Mark's interference results in embarrassment but Geneva delivers the epic "Who's been messing with my baby?!" speech that sends the bully running for the hills.
  • Enormous Engagement Ring: Double Subverted when one of the two girls accepts a proposal from a supposedly rich suitor. The other woman comments on its size ("I can see where the Titanic hit it!"), but Mr. Cooper calls it a cubic zirconium. She refuses to believe that it's a fake until the stone in the ring breaks in some accident. It ends with the suitor having a real diamond as well, but he was going to switch it due to resizing or resetting issues.
  • Extreme Doormat: Geneva has been this for Mark ever since they were children. When she becomes the school principal in season 4, she finally gains the backbone to stand up to him after he pulls one too many of his antics at work.
  • Gold Digger: Vanessa was this before she started dating Mark.
  • Halloween Episode: "Father Fairest" in Season 2 and "Halloween" in Season 4. Season 3's "Mo' Money" was set during Halloween, but that didn't factor into the plot save for an end credit scene.
  • Hidden Depths: Andre (one of Mark's basketball players) displays a real aptitude for playing the piano and takes to it. Relatedly, though he initially opposed Andre getting distracted from basketball, Coach Ricketts listens to classical music in his spare time and considers Andre's big performance quite beautiful.
  • Homage: The bully in the episode "My Bodyguard" was named after Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story.
  • Jaded Washout: Mark skirted pro basketball after college and played with them with a ten day contract for a story arc in the first season. It's a source of bitterness that he got cut, but knows few people get even the chance he did.
  • Logo Joke: Combined with Breaking the Fourth Wall. During the end credits of the pilot episode, Mark Curry addresses the audience to tell them his real name.
    Mark: I’m gonna tell you my name, I want you to remember it. My name is Mark-
    (Gets cut off by the Jeff Franklin Productions logo. After a few seconds, Mark slides the logo aside)
    Mark: CURRY, Mark CURRY. Like curry chicken? Curry.
  • Mama Bear: Geneva. This was the reason Nicole didn't want her to know about her bully problem; she's too good at this and would make a scene. This comes to pass, though by that point, the bully had proven to be such a problem that no one tried to stop her. The bully is immediately scared off, and every other kid steps away from Geneva, as well.
  • Manchild: Vanessa points out that Tyler is a child, whereas Mark simply acts like one.
  • My Greatest Failure: Mark's failed basketball career, both because it was his lifelong dream and because he slacked off in school as a result (which meant having to work extra hard once it was clear he wasn't going to make it in the pros).
  • My Greatest Second Chance: The "Warriors" two-parter gives Mark the chance to regain his NBA glory.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: "Father Fairest" sees Mark learn that Earvin wants to see his Disappeared Dad again. Mark tracks him down and reunites the two, but it turns out Earvin just wanted to yell at him. Mark has to figure out how to resolve the family strife, especially when Earvin's mother yells at him for blundering into private business.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Mark immediately takes an interest in Earvin's education because he was also a class clown and slacker at that age.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Mark and Robin have been friends since grade school.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Marquise Wilson (Tyler) in Season 2. Omar Gooding (Earvin) in Season 4.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • The first episode of Season 2 mentions that Robin has moved away. She was never seen or heard from again.
    • At the start of Season 4, it's mentioned P.J. has left the school for a better job in Chicago.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Mark and Vanessa towards the end of Season 4.
  • Retool: The show originally started as a black version of Three's Company (three single people living together, one guy and two girls) but the show was re-worked after one season. Robin was replaced by Mark's cousin Geneva, two kid characters were added, and there was a bigger emphasis on Mark's job with the addition of Nell Carter as the principal and Geneva also getting a job as a teacher.
  • Sadistic Choice: Mark actually gets the chance to go back to the Georgetown job he left the school for. He is deeply torn since it was a dream job, but as he says, he made a commitment to stay at the school for a year. The Georgetown coach commends this level of dedication and promises to be watching, while Geneva praises Mark for what he's just done, but a shaken Mark clearly wants to drop this before he caves into temptation.
  • Santa's Existence Clause: "Miracle in Oaktown" subverts it. A co-worker's husband is due to return home from a tour of duty in time for Christmas, and Mark (dressed as Santa at the school carnival) tells the couple's son that to get him to believe in Santa. However, Mark didn't know the orders changed last minute. He scrambles to somehow make good on his promise, is crushed upon failing, and sees the man reunited with his family, anyway. The man simply chalks it up to Santa's doing, but as Mark looks up expecting to see flying reindeer, viewers learn Coach Ricketts used his connections in the military to arrange this reunion.
  • Sexy Santa Dress: Vanessa dons one in Season 1's Christmas Episode for a school carnival. Vanessa says the original version just didn't fit, while a disappointed Robin remarks it was a rental.
    Robin: You're supposed to be Santa's wife, not his mistress!
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted. Geneva was more wholesome and initially much meeker than Robin. Over time, she did develop a more assertive personality similar to Robin, but she still retained her more wholesome attitude.
  • Tap on the Head: There were frequent comedic pratfalls that the characters easily brushed off, but in one case, a blow to the head gives Mark a concussion. Vanessa struggles to keep him conscious until an ambulance can arrive.
  • Vandalism Backfire: Tyler tries to stand up to a bully who is forcing Nicole to do his homework. Tyler grabs the paper and rips it to shreds, only for Nicole to inform him that he just ripped up her homework.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Mark and Tyler start out on the vitriolic extreme, as Tyler's the annoying kid who keeps dropping by because his father bought the group's house. Over time (and after Mark and Vanessa buy the house), Mark and Tyler settle into a more good-natured version of this.
  • Unwanted Glasses Plot: Nicole's subplot in "Here Comes the Groom" revolves around this and the glasses are exceedingly nerdy. Mark, Geneva, and Vanessa try to help her be less self-conscious about it by wearing glasses around the house. Nicole ultimately gets a more modest pair of glasses and adapts to wearing them for school work.
  • Your Television Hates You: "Valentine's Day Massacre" has the host of a dating game show keep directly addressing Mark by name to point out he's the only one who doesn't have a date for the evening. The in-universe reason for this is that Robin and Vanessa won dates through the show, so there's actually a camera hook-up in the house. The guy's still being a jerk about it.