Like All in the Family, Fox's The Bernie Mac Showdebuting tonight at 9:30 pm/ET — aims to tackle real-life issues with bite.

A dysfunctional slice of life, the sitcom follows a couple who unexpectedly acquires three foster kids. Kellita Smith, who plays Bernie Mac's TV bride Wanda, notes, "[All in the Family] dealt with racism, they dealt with no money... They brought all that to the forefront when, before, people weren't laughing at that, you know?"

And as she points out, nobody will mistake the darkly comedic Mac for The Cosby Show. "We love Cosby," says Smith — whom you may recall from stints on Nash Bridges, Martin or The Jamie Foxx Show. "But life is not Cosby. What I love about [Bernie Mac] is that it's real, and quite frankly, the truth kind of hurts sometimes. The truth can be dark. The truth can be intimidating. But the truth is, and it stands."

With its predominantly black cast, Mac will have to grapple with the truth of an existing color barrier in TV viewership. While Smith acknowledges this snag, she remains hopeful. "I think when an individual can lend themselves to another perspective and stay open, they will be pleasantly surprised," she says. "They'll love it. We'll capture their hearts."