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Life in the Chicago projects is never easy, However, the Evans family never gives up trying to make the best of things. While Florida and James struggle to provide for their family, their sons J.J., an aspiring painter, Micheal, the undying political crusader, causing trouble while their sister, Thelma, stands between them as the voice of reason. Living in the same building were Willona Woods, Florida's best friend from High School who provided support, love and gossip and Nathan Bookman, the overweight janitor who gave them grief and was the butt of alot of fat jokes, especially Willona who often referred to him as Buffalo Butt or Booger. Life, at least, is never boring while they fight to keep their heads above water and one day leave the projects, which they did in the series finale. Sadly, it was without James who was killed off in the 4th season. Written by
Although the show was a spin-off from the sitcom Maude (1972), there were no actual references to that show or its characters. On that series, Florida was employed as Maude Findlay's housekeeper in suburban New York and her husband Henry was employed as a firefighter. On Good Times (1974), Florida and her husband James live in Chicago and there is no mention of their previous jobs, James ever going by the name Henry or them ever having lived in New York. In fact, Florida and neighbor Willona Woods are longtime friends and are believed to have lived in Chicago for several years. However, in one episode Florida did mention that she was maid. See more »
Great show early ...but suffered a decline in quality in later seasons
When "Good Times" premiered in 1974, it was one the first black family sitcoms. It centered on the poor Chicago-based Evans family and their struggles to make ends meet. Most of the early episodes focused on the parents, James and Florida Evans, and their struggle to provide for the family. John Amos and Esther Rolle were the best part of the show. They were terrific actors and had great chemistry as James and Florida Evans. They had three kids: J.J., Thelma, and Michael. J.J. was the skirt-chasing but well-meaning teenage son who made up for his lack of subtlety with artistic talent. Thelma was an attractive, bright girl who was constantly trading insults with J.J. Michael was a near child prodigy who was well-educated on social issues and was destined to become a lawyer.
In 1976, the producers made a huge mistake by firing John Amos, literally killing off his character. This really changed the focus, and not for the good I might add. The shows began to focus more on J.J. and his buffoon-like behavior which angered black viewers as well as series star Esther Rolle, who left after the next season. Instead of a show that focused on key African-American issues that existed in society at the time, viewers got shows that were overloaded with skirt chasing and fat jokes.
Once Esther Rolle left, the quality of the show suffered even more. Although it was still watchable, it was no longer the great ground-breaking show that it once was.
Although Esther Rolle came back for the 1978 season, it became obvious that the show was on its last legs. All loose ends were tied up during that season and the show quietly faded off the air.
First three season: A. Last three seasons: C+.
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