A black teen in Brooklyn during the early 1980s attends a mostly white school in a sitcom 'inspired by the childhood experiences' of comedian Chris Rock, who produced and narrates the series. Bolstered by a soundtrack that beautifully evokes the '80s, the show chronicles the life of the young Chris, whose family's penny-pinching is leavened by love (and laughs). At home, Chris helps care for his younger brother and sister, while at school he's often the target of a racist bully.
When Chris does poorly on an exam, Ms. Morello sends him to the school's guidance counselor, Mr. Abbott. The counselor gives Chris a series of mental evaluations and ultimately determines that he must take a remedial course.
After getting bullied Caruso stops bullying everyone else which upsets the balance at school. Julius tries to keep secret that he's been forced to take his vacation days.
When Chris offers to move his father's car, things get worse when he drives to school to show off for Tasha.
Chris has to reluctantly train the family's new dog into a security dog after their house is robbed, but he just wants a pet. Meanwhile, Tonya and Drew are bored without a television, so they find other means to keep themselves entertained - including making prank phone calls.
Chris is left alone in Mr. Omar's apartment when his family comes down with the flu and Mr. Omar, who's supposed to look after him until the family recovers, leaves him for a widowed woman. Greg then suggests he invite Tasha over for some 'alone time'. However, things spiral out of control when news spreads of Chris' newfound independence.
Chris joins the school newspapers' writing staff but his skills as a writer doesn't go down well so he invents a scandalous story that goes too far when it accidentally causes a panic in the neighborhood.
Greg comes to stay at Chris' house while his father is out of town but Chris starts to have regrets. To make extra money, Julius drives taxis in his spare time where one of his customers turns out to be a fugitive.
Chris goes to work at a Chinese restaurant after Doc refuses to give him a raise. Drew is failing a class so Rochelle and Julius have to go in to meet the teacher.
When another African American kid goes to Corleone he and Chris hit it off, unfortunately Albert doesn't get along with most of the other kids including Greg. When Julius and Rochelle get a tax refund Julius thinks it's a mistake and is afraid to spend it.
Chris has to do a school assignment during the holiday break. He decides to do a good deed and helps Kill Moves find his estranged mother. Meanwhile, Julius decides that the family should celebrate Kwanzaa instead of Christmas because it's less expensive.
The family take a trip down South when a distant relative of Julius dies. While waiting for a bus at Port Authority, Chris and Julius are conned into a gambling scam and lose all their money...Will they tell Rochelle?
Chris goes through a transitional phase when he discovers Tasha, his long-standing crush, likes "bad boys" and ditches his "nice guy" image. Meanwhile, Julius is named employee of the month and wins a free family dinner at a fancy restaurant with surprising restrictions.
Chris makes plans to get invited to a party so he can experience his first kiss with Tasha. Julius makes Tonya spy on her mother when the family spot Rochelle's ex at dinner. Drew shows his dark side when he lends Mr. Omar five dollars.
Chris wants to take Tasha to her Easter pageant after she breaks up with her boyfriend but Chris already has a commitment. Rochelle competes with a new member of the church to win the Easter Pageant Hat-Off competition, which she has won for four years in a row. Julius pretends he has to work so he can stay home and watch a football game.
When Drew decides to cut school to find Wayne Gretzky, Chris reluctantly agrees to go with him.
Chris has to take part in Mr. Omar's Black Funeral Director's scholarship fund when he tries ti raise enough money to go to a Run DMC concert. Meanwhile, Rochelle jumps at the chance to get a break at home when she injures her arm
Malvo returns and enlists Chris' help to make a fresh start. Drew inadvertently upsets Julius when he declares himself a Mets fan instead of a Dodgers fan like his father; and Rochelle steps in when she witnesses poor parenting skills from one of Tonya's friend's parents.
It's Earth Day in Bed Stuy and Chris decides to collect cans because he believes it will be easy and that he can get Julius to help. Meanwhile, Rochelle is called into Tonya's school for inappropriate behavior and realizes just where Tonya's attitude comes from.
Chris' attempt to be a "cool" kid lands him in hot water when he is caught with cigarettes and is suspended from school. Kicking him while he's down, Tonya blackmails him when she finds out before their parents do. Meanwhile, Rochelle decides to teach Julius a lesson.
When Chris becomes the only boy in school without a date for the ninth-grade dance, Ms. Morello suggests he ask the only girl without a date, and she accepts. But trouble ensues when word gets out about the inter-racial pairing.
Meanwhile, Tonya stresses her parents out about ballet classes.
When Chris attempts to buy Rochelle perfume as a Mother's Day gift, he discovers he cannot afford it and buys it from Risky. However, Rochelle breaks out in hives and takes Chris to the store she believes he bought it from. Meanwhile, Drew and Julius do a spot of spring cleaning and make an expensive find.
Chris is disappointed when he finds out that Greg will be going to a different high school next year. He tries to get the necessary grant money so he can afford to go to Greg's school. Rochelle volunteers Drew to be Tanya's dance partner in Swan Lake after her ballet partner gets hurt.