The series was loosely based on Mac's stand-up comedy acts. In real life, Bernie "Mac" McCullough was married with one daughter; Mac's character on the show (a stand-up comedian) was married with no children of his own. The pilot episode, aired on November 14, 2001, set up the basic premise for the series: the character Bernie Mac takes in his sister's children after she enters rehab (a premise taken from one of Mac's routines in the 2000 film, The Original Kings of Comedy).
Much of the humor in the show was derived from Mac's continual adjustment to and his unique take on parenthood. A frequent motif of the show was the juxtaposition of Mac's acerbic comments, such as his threats to "bust the (children's) heads 'til the white meat shows," and the deep parental affection he felt towards the trio, which often brought him to the verge of tears during happy moments. Towards the end of the series, Bryana's long-lost father (Anthony Anderson) returns and drops by from time to time to help Bernie and Wanda with the kids.
Many of his most emotional scenes occurred in segments in which Mac, while still in character, broke the 'fourth wall' and talked to the television audience. This technique was most notably used before an episode during the 2005-2006 season, when Bernie, as himself and wearing a Chicago White Sox cap and jacket, delivered a heartfelt congratulatory message to the baseball organization and its staff on their recent World Series Championship. Bernie, who grew up on Chicago's south-side, was a die-hard fan of the White Sox and was seen at Game 1 of the World Series, in a front row seat. As was also the case during his stand-up routine, Mac habitually addressed the audience as "America" for humorous effect. The lighting of the shots typically appears to be yellowish in color.
Mac's character's celebrity worked as a plot device allowing other celebrities to appear on the show as themselves. Halle Berry, Serena Williams, Chris Rock, Ashton Kutcher, Dom...