Kim Fields knows sitcoms — she’s starred on three of TV’s most beloved. She played Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey/Didi on Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life from 1979 to 1988 and Regine Hunter on Living Single from 1993 to 1998. Now, she’s helping bring multi-cam sitcoms back with The Upshaws on Netflix (Season 2 Part 1 is streaming now).
Fields plays family matriarch Regina Upshaw in the comedy alongside Mike Epps‘ Bennie Upshaw and Wanda Sykes‘ Lucretia Turner. Regina and Bennie are trying to move their family forward while navigating life’s ups and downs, and Lucretia is always nearby to help her sister through the drama and hilarity of it all.
No matter the medium, Fields is happy to be a storyteller. “I’m a content creator and a character creator, so I love that whatever means and whatever formats and genres we use, I’m in an industry that has so many different ways to tell great stories,” she shares.
Multi-cam sitcoms aren’t common in 2022, but Netflix has tested out the format with shows like One Day at a Time (criminally canceled, saved, and then canceled again), The Ranch, Fuller House, The Upshaws, and more. While the format feels dated and the humor often does as well, where The Upshaws and One Day at a Time succeed is in telling stories that were underrepresented in the heyday of multi-cam comedies.
The Upshaws creator Regina Hicks is a die-hard supporter of the medium, previously telling TV Insider the multi-cam work week is “the best schedule in television.” Having previously worked on Sister, Sister and Girlfriends, Hicks says there’s not much of a difference between making a multi-cam then vs. now, but bringing 2022 life and humor to this medium is the biggest joy and (welcome) challenge. Fields agrees.
“Most actors would say the schedule, because it’s pretty easy in terms of the nuts and bolts and logistics of it,” she says of the pros of her current gig. The other appeal, according to both Hicks and Fields, is the live studio audience (which was briefly taken away because of COVID-19).
“I enjoy the audience reactions, I enjoy that style of storytelling,” Fields says. “I’m glad that it’s having a resurgence and that The Upshaws seems to be at the forefront of that.”
Fields knows a good story when she sees one. And she’s not afraid to admit that she thinks one of her own is one of the best sitcoms of the ’90s.
“Living Single,” she responds when asked to name her favorite ’90s show, “because it was dynamic and tremendous and funny and amazing. I would say all of those things if I did not star in that show. The fact that I did is a bonus, quite honestly.”
The Upshaws, Season 2 Part 1, Streaming Now, Netflix