The Upshaws part 5: Who is Wendell Johnson? (dedication explained)

The Upshaws part 5 poster - Netflix
The Upshaws part 5 poster - Netflix /

A brand new season of The Upshaws premiered on Netflix in April 2024 and picked up in the aftermath of the sitcom's biggest plot twists. Back in part 3, Regina suffered a heart attack due to stress, and part 4 found the Upshaw matriarch getting back on track.

In the newly released part 5, the Upshaw family continues to weather the ups and downs of everyday life, money problems, and interpersonal relationships. As you binge-watch the season and get your laughs, you will also notice that the season ends with a dedication.

After the final scene of part 5, a title card appears and honors the "loving memory" of Wendell Johnson (1960-2023). The dedication also features a black and white photo of Johnson smiling. Here's what fans of The Upshaws need to know about the sitcom's heartfelt celebration of his life.

The Upshaws part 5 honors Wendell Johnson

If the name Wendell Johnson doesn't sound familiar to you, he didn't work on The Upshaws in front of the camera. He wasn't one of the cast members in the sitcom. Rather, Johnson worked as an art director and production designer for multiple Hollywood productions. For the Netflix sitcom, Johnson offered his talents as a production designer. On IMDb, he's credited for 11 episodes.

According to a GoFundMe fundraiser set up on behalf of his wife Cynthia and two children Brooks and Makenna, Johnson passed away on Oct. 18, 2023. A number of those he worked with in TV donated to his family's GoFundMe, including The Neighborhood star Cedric the Entertainer, prolific sitcom directors James Burrows and Andy Ackerman, Kevin Can Wait star Erinn Hayes, and The Upshaws co-creator Regina Hicks.

Apart from The Upshaws, Wendell Johnson also worked as a production designer for shows like The Neighborhood, iCarly (the revival), The Crew, Merry Happy Whatever, Sydney to the Max, Kevin Can Wait, The Game, Girlfriends, and more. He was also an art director for the revival season of the sitcom Mad About You. He's also well known for creating an iconic sitcom opening sequence.

Johnson has a huge piece of pop culture history under his belt for creating the logo for Will Smith's sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He came up with pairing the graffiti style of "Fresh Prince" with the more refined typeface of the title's additional words to represent the show's themes. Johnson also worked in the art department at Paramount, and he explained his role:

"I was kind of the graphics kid who you could call to do some freelance graphics around Paramount. That’s what I did on the side to make ends meet."

Wendell Johnson

Clearly, Wendell Johnson has made an incredible impact on the television industry by adding his creativity and talent to so many beloved shows. Back in February, the CBS sitcom The Neighborhood also honored Johnson with their own dedication since he worked on that hit comedy, too. Netflix Life offers Johnson's family and friends sincere condolences for their tragic loss.

Watch The Upshaws only on Netflix.

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