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Good Times

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The Family

Good Times is a sitcom about urban African Americans and poverty. The show centers around James Evans and his humble family. In 1945, at age 12, James completed the 6th grade. A bright young man, he was denied further education by the white racist power structure of the day.

It wasn't until May 1954 that racial segregation was banned in American public schools. And as late as fall of 1957 Eisenhower had to send in troops to enforce this. In 1971 the U.S. Supreme Court ordered forced busing in an attempt to achieve racial desegregation. James Evans can hardly read or write ...he wants his kids to have a better life.

James Sr.The show was video taped in front of a live audience, and starts in 1974. The Evans Family lives in Government funded Projects in Chicago's West Loop. James Senior, his wife Florida, 17 yr. old James Junior (J.J.), Thelma, 16, and Michael, 11, are all crammed into a 2 bedroom 17th floor apartment. The boys share a sofa bed in the front room. James Sr., due to his poor education, is forced to work at low-paying manual-labor jobs six days a week. The only transportation he can afford is Chicago's L trains and city buses.

James and FloridaIn the Projects, roaches, winos, junkies and muggers abound. They become the centerpiece of many comic bits: "J.J. where's my hairspray?" "Under the sink. I used it to wipe out a couple bugs last night!" "Mama it's so desolate out there, the muggers are muggin' each other!" "J.J. that painting looks familiar! Who's face did you use? That's Ned the wino!"

Thelma EvansBy the end of the first season, early in 1975, it is clear that J.J, played by Jimmie Walker, is the star of the show. "Dyn-o-mite!" His sharp wit, good looks, charming personality, and talented acting quickly gain the show critical acclaim Nationwide. From black and white audiences, wealthy and poor alike.

Little MichaelThe show runs  five seasons, until May of 1979. Surviving the Autumn 1976 loss of John Amos (James Sr.), losing Esther Rolle for one season, and eventually gaining two new cast members. Thelma marries Keith Anderson who moves in to the apartment and becomes the head of the household. And a little girl, played by Janet Jackson, is adopted by Willona, the family friend.

James JuniorWatching Good Times is almost like an urban history lesson. Current events of the 70's are cleverly written into the dialogue. Nixon, gas lines, double digit inflation, the energy crisis, forced busing, Civil Rights protests, all are skillfully written into the script. And the humor is top notch comedy entertainment.

Good times was originally created by Eric Monte. Eric grew up in a similar environment in Chicago's Cabrini Green Projects. Early development of the show was made possible by the experienced assistance of the famous television Director Norman Lear.

J.JGood Times is one of the five best sitcoms produced in the 1970's. And is, perhaps, the best African American sitcom of all time. Some UPN Stations show it during the week days.

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British Comedy on American TV