By Mark Laubach
Bernie Mac is an authority on contemporary American family life. The character he portrays on his self-titled 2001 sitcom is no different. Mister Mac is king of his castle and expects fealty and respect from his family and his subjects in the neighborhood. While his attitude may impede progress to that goal, his mannerisms and philosophies are the standard that all American families strive for. Bernie Mac demonstrates the value of an education and the proper way to grow a community by ruling over them with inflexible rules as best illustrated by his management of a student carpool in the episode "Carfool".
Despite what the name of the episode implies, Bernie Mac is no fool in running his nieces' and nephew's school carpool. The bane of any education is apathetic tardiness. Bernie seeks to combat this blight on scholastic endeavors with his implementation of a five-second-rule. As he explains, addressing all of America, "I honk the horn, then they have five seconds to get to the car door before we pull away (Bernie Mac, 2002)". This prompts the student to run to the car, minimizing the commute time to school, reducing the probability of being tardy to class, and instilling a sense of personal responsibility in the youth. It also keeps the undesirable, "dirty" kids from messing up Mister Mac's impeccable automobile. The enforcement of this rule is universal, even when Bernie's own nephew, Jordan, misses his five-second window to obtain a ride, Bernie leaves him to chase after the car. The punishment for Jordan's tardiness is to be late or miss school together. Here, Bernie demonstrates the value of an education. Only students who are punctual, respectful, and clean to Mister Mac's standards may be ferried to school. Children who do not meet these expectations are left behind, foreshadowing how society will too leave them behind if they fall behind on these criteria later in life.