HBO Max recently released the first two seasons of Chris Rock's HBO talk show that aired in 1997. David Dennis Jr., who watched The Chris Rock Show as a kid, wondered how much of Rock's talk show comedy would work in 2021, especially when there is so much discussion about "cancel culture." "HBO Max took a calculated risk releasing the episodes and subjecting Rock, his writers and his guests to the scrutiny he and his peers seem so averse to confronting," says Dennis. "I fully expected to see a show full of jokes indulging in anti-gay bias, anti-transgender bias, misogyny and more, along with a laundry list of reasons to chastise Rock and society for the way we treat the most vulnerable among us. And there’s plenty of that, for sure. But rewatching The Chris Rock Show in 2021 also provides a time capsule of what we were talking about, grappling with and willfully ignorant about at the turn of the century. A rewatch also provides yet another arena for us to figure out what to do with an artist’s past takes and how that impacts how we see that person years later. There are plenty of aspects of the show that aged poorly and he and we have evolved beyond. But what fascinates me most is what has stuck with him through 2021, for better or for worse. The lack of growth being as telling as the places where his thinking has matured. The show tackled the state of the world as it approached the 21st century and some of the biggest cultural stories of our lifetimes. Rock was like a tenacious defensive back, hawking every prominent news story like a wayward pass. He was there for the fallout of the O.J. Simpson trial, the beginnings of the Bill Clinton sex scandal, the Marv Albert scandal, the deaths of Biggie and Tupac, pre-9/11 ideals of patriotism, the start of Tiger Woods’ career and he even had a throwaway joke about the Pearl High School shooting, blissfully oblivious to the epidemic of school shootings on the horizon. Watching The Chris Rock Show is a reminder of the blueprint that made Rock what he is now – brilliant, biting, preoccupied with the white gaze, incisive, classist, raw and antagonizing toward Black women. It’s all there in 17 30-minute episodes. At the heart of Rock’s most famous and most divisive bits are jokes that reflect his preoccupation with the white gaze and, at times, what Black people need to do to gain white acceptance."