10 Facts You May Not Know about the TV Show, “Good Times”

Good Times was that show that all of us knew better than we know our own relatives.  Most of us can sing the theme song even without knowing all the words, and if I were to walk into a room and say the words “d**n, d**n, d**n!” you would know EXACTLY what scene I was talking about.

But here is a short list of interesting tidbits about the show that you may not know.  We are not sharing this information with you for any reason other than the fact that it’s interesting.  The most notable fact is that the show didn’t start doing poorly until JJ stopped acting like a complete buffoon.  Here’s the rundown….feel free to add your own Good Times-related information to the comment section below:

1) Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) was much older than James Evans (John Amos):  Florida was born in 1920 and James was born in 1939.  So, when show began in 1974, Florida was already 54 years old, married to a 35-year old husband.

2) JJ was an old man too:  JJ, played by Jimmie Walker, was born in 1947, only 8 years later than James.  He was certainly no teenager on the show, being 27-years old when the show released its debut.

3) Willona (played by Ja’net Dubois) was only 2 years older than JJ.  They could have dated each other.

4) Esther Rolle was consistently annoyed that even though the show was created around her, a comedian (Jimmie Walker) was getting all of the attention.

5) The show was created by Michael Evans, who also played Lionel Jefferson on another show you might have heard of.  He based the show on his own childhood.

6) The show was a spinoff of another show, called “Maude,” where Florida was a maid.  They changed the name of her husband in the spinoff.

7) Jay Leno appeared on the show in an episode about STDs, one of the first in the history of television.

8) In her indignation over JJ’s role, Esther said:   ”He’s eighteen and he doesn’t work. He can’t read or write. He doesn’t think. The show didn’t start out to be that…Little by little—with the help of the artist, I suppose, because they couldn’t do that to me—they have made J.J. more stupid and enlarged the role. Negative images have been slipped in on us through the character of the oldest child.”

9) When John Amos left the show after failed contract negotiations, he said this about JJ’s character: “The writers would prefer to put a chicken hat on J.J. and have him prance around saying “DY-NO-MITE”, and that way they could waste a few minutes and not have to write meaningful dialogue.”

10) Esther Rolle was convinced to come back during the last season under three conditions:  They would write out the character that she ran off and married after James’ death (since she didn’t think Florida would move on so quickly), they would give her a raise in salary, and JJ would  have more respectable, intelligent roll. Oddly enough, that’s when the show started to tank in the ratings.

Come on people, we’ve got to do better.

 

In case you don’t know all the lyrics, we pulled them together for you:

 

GOOD TIMES!
Any time you need a payment!
GOOD TIMES!
Any time you need a friend!
GOOD TIMES!
Any time you’re out from under!
Not gettin’ hassled, not getting hustled!
Keeping your head above water!
Making a way when you can!
Temporary lay-offs!
GOOD TIMES!
Easy Credit rip-offs!
GOOD TIMES!
Scratchin’ and Survivin’
GOOD TIMES!
Hangin’ in a chow line!
GOOD TIMES!
Ain’t we lucky we got ‘em?
GOOD TIMES!!!

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260 Responses to 10 Facts You May Not Know about the TV Show, “Good Times”

  1. Glenn Krasner March 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Richard Pryor also hated the J.J. character, and felt it was demeaning to blacks, as did a LOT of other people. Still, as good as it was, and as bad as, it was good have a “black show” on television when there weren’t too many on tv when I was growing up in the 1970′s (I’m 48). Glenn in the Bronx, NY.

    Reply
  2. Shep March 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    James Evans Sr was one of the few, if not only, “real” black men on tv. He may not have been perfect but he ran his house the way a man is supposed to. He loved his wife and children dearly, was hard working, honest and didn’t take any c**p!

    As a child I had no problem with JJ but as an adult my opinion changed. It’s truly sad that the show’s drop in ratings may be attributed to his character becoming more responsible. I personally think the show went down after John Amos left.

    Reply
    • LaShaundra August 23, 2013 at 2:41 am

      i felt the same way. after John Amos left (James killed off), i feel that’s what killed the show. i actually liked when JJ matured instead of walking around looking and acting like a fool.

      Reply
  3. axiomatic March 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I was a child (b.d. 1964) when the show aired, although I am familiar with the song, I never committed the lyrics to memory (I didn’t agree that those were good times). In truth, I could see actual disgust in ‘Ester Rolles’ demeanor. I paid more attention to ‘Michaels’ role, than the clown character of Jimmy Walker. Like many shows existing these days, I am disturbed by the negative depiction of black men and women. The men either clueless and overbearing, the women demanding and overbearing. Get dignity is my slogan.

    Reply
    • Tami April 16, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      Michael was always my favorite character on the show.

      Reply
  4. Dee March 8, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    I spent summers in New York and it was actually the real lifestyle of some tenants. My friends live in a very similiar building with working elevators of course. My take was that it was the only black family show on television so I enjoyed it regardless (I was only a child myself).

    It made me feel bad for the entire family because JJ was portrayed like the boy in the little rascals.

    Back then it paid the bills to be low rated as a person even though it wasn’t right in our eyes…it paid their bills…umph!

    Reply
  5. Tony Summers March 9, 2012 at 2:31 am

    Also:
    Florida Evans was originally written as a single mother. Esther Rolle insisted that writers add a husband.

    Eric Monte and Michael Evans, the creators, writers and consultants, received little pay no royalties for their contribution to the show.

    Eric Monte and Michael Evans had to constantly fight with staff writers and directors, rewrite scripts and explain to the producer how offensive most of their original screenplays were.

    Reply
  6. dollarsdoug March 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    The show began to sink when James was killed off. It’s sad, actually: most black shows had to depict us as buffoons and clowns, aggressive, overbearing and reactionary in order to be successful. The Cosby Show was almost too perfect, but I’d take it in a heartbeat over the buffoonery we see today…

    Reply
  7. Derek March 10, 2012 at 5:58 am

    I agree with some of the comments made by Glenn Krasner
    March 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm “Still, as good as it was, and as bad as, it was good have a “black show” on television when there weren’t too many on tv when I was growing up in the 1970′s…”.

    In observance of Black History Month, Nicholas must choose a famous African-American to portray at a school assembly. Nicholas shocks his family when he tells them he wants to be Buckwheat. Robert suggests to Nicholas that he choose an African-American figure with a more positive image. However, Nicholas is adamant about his choice so Robert decides to lend his son support. At the assembly, Nicholas comes out dressed in Buckwheat garb and speaks in the almost unintelligible style, which was Buckwheat’s trademark. However, midway through his speech, Nicholas takes off his Buckwheat wig to explain that during Buckwheat’s era, black actors had to portray stereotypical characters if they wanted to be in movies at all, and that we should honor these black film pioneers for making it easier for future generations of African-American actors. Meanwhile, Cece wants to be more like her big sister Zaria by emulating her.

    Buckwheat is a character from The Lil’ Rascals. Although the character represented blacks in a stereotypical image, he is one of the popular characters from the series. At the end of this episode, there is a voice-over provided by Robert Townsend dedicating this episode to the famous African-American actors whose talents were never acknowledge and appreciated in the past. Also, during that time the only roles that talented African-Americans were offered were those of degrading in nature; and although many accepted these roles, it help pave the way down a road of future opportunites for many talented African-Americans who would eventually break down the color barrier event further. We have come so far and have had to scratch and beat down many doors to take our place into making the American Dream more than a dream but a reality; and yet there are still many barriers we must continue to break through. So let us not criticize any brother or sister who is attempting to make his/her mark in this world. The role of J.J Evans may have appeared demeaning to some, but it was acting, and great acting I must add. There are roles that African-Americans portray in today, that don’t get the criticism: I did not particularly care for Denzel’s role in “Training Day”; He has made us proud in his many accoplishments; but again, it is acting and I am not going to criticize him on that or any other role just because it may have bothered me to see him play in a “bad guy” role. It just show his talents: that he multifauceted and can meet the chellenges of an actor in playing multiply roles and not be limited to the “good guy” roles. Denzel, hats off to you. Jimmy Walker, hats off to you. Billie Thomas, hats off to you. Billie Thomas played the original Buckwheat on “The Little Rascals”.

    Reply
    • Robin L November 9, 2013 at 7:39 pm

      Great observations Derek. Your words are both intelligent and insightful. There are many facts that we don’t know about past actors and actresses. One example is that Dorothy Dandridge’s mother only got roles playing a maid. She was not ashamed of this fact or the fact that she was lesbian which a lot of people would never had admitted to in those days (these facts can be found in her biography). Another fact, you mentioned Buckwheat, not many people know that he died very young, he was only 49.

      Reply
  8. Derek March 10, 2012 at 6:00 am

    My initial comments were associated with an episode of The Parenthod.

    Reply
  9. Regi March 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    *Glenn Krasner
    How could Richard Pryor think that anything ANYONE did was more demeaning to blacks than what he would do to blacks himself. After years of making millions off calling Black folks the “N” word, he had the audacity to say that anyone else could be demeaning???

    Reply
  10. Paul March 10, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I grew up with this show in the 1970′s when it was on CBS. The show debuted on Feb. 1974 replacing a black army sitcom called “Roll Out”. It was good seeing a black family on TV and more importantly a black father on TV, which the producers and writers intially did not want. Ester Rolle threatened to quit the show unless a husband and father was wriiten into the show.

    It was whole lot better than subsequent black sitcoms which never had a father in it all…until the Cosby Show arrived in the eighties. Personally, I think white hollywood had a fear of strong black male leadership being infused into the minds of black youth, which Good Times attempted to do.

    Eric Monte was actually the creator of the show. He gave credit to Mike Evans as well as himself because it was Mike who actually introduced Eric to Norman Lear, the producer of the show.

    Eric Monte left due to the constant bickering and drama between the actors and the writers with regards to the scripts. He went on to produce and direct “Cooley High”, a movie about African-American inner city youth. The sitcom “What’s Happening” was loosely based on the film. Eric Monte had called What’s Happening the “white version” of Cooley High which is another fustrating long story.

    John Amos was “fired” from the show and did not quit the series. He got a phone call in his house stating that his presence was ruining the “creativity” of the show. Amos wanted better quality scripts which the writers promised him, after raising his salary. But the writers slowly started to give more bufoonery dialogue to Jimmie Walker’s character, JJ. John Amos’s complaints about the scripts (in Ebony Magazine’s article “Bad Times on the Good Times Set”) is what got him wrongfully fired from the show.

    Eric Monte should be given credit for positioning Blacks being on sitcom TV in the 1970′s.

    Reply
    • Glenn Krasner March 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      Wow, Paul! Thanks for all the inside information on “Good Times” and “What’s Happening”, which although my sister and I watched, always considered a third-rate show. It didn’t measure up to “Good Times” in any way, shape, or form, and it didn’t have an ounce of the greatness that “Cooley High” had, or even still has to this day (still watch it on cable every chance I get!). Yeah, and the story that everybody always hears is that John Amos quit – for years that was what everybody was told. Thanks again for all the inside dope, and whatever else you can share with all the commenters and readers, we would all really appreciate it!!!

      Reply
      • Paul March 10, 2012 at 9:22 pm

        You are welcome Glenn, glad to share!! In my faintest memory I remember seeing the kids from Good Times host a Saturday Morning Preview special on CBS either in Fall of ’74 or ’75. Crazy times. lol

        As for What’s Happening , I was shocked to learn that the character “Chocise “, played by Lawrence Jacobs, did not make the transition to What’s Happening beacuse the producers did not want white girls having a crush on a black male teen idol. That came directly from Eric Monte’s mouth on a TV special I watched.

        I believe it, since the ABC network was the “white teen idol” network at that time (ie Henry Winkler, Scott Baio, Willie Ames) and the show followed right after Welcome Back Kotter on Thurs. nights which featured the biggest teen idol at that time, John Travolta. I guess the networks were comfortable showing sitcoms a funny black man but not a sexy one.

        Reply
  11. Marvin March 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    According to Bernadette Stanislaus, “Thelma” the elusive line in the theme song is not “Hangin in a Chow Line”. It is “Hangin and a Jivin”.

    Reply
  12. Glenn Krasner March 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Some things never change! I remember the scene in “The Pelican Brief” with Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts by the roaring fireplace in the living room. It was obvious to me and my girlfriend, that they were supposed to be intimate (I never read the book, but the scene in the movie was set up for it) and the scene just magically transitioned to the next day or something unrelated. God forbid, the two biggest movie stars at the time, should be intimate, because he was black and she was white! Same thing in “Romeo Must Die, just the reverse scenario. Again, all of us in the audience wanted Aliyah and Jet Li to have some hot scenes together, but I don’t even remember them kissing once in the movie! God forbid, an Asian man and black woman kissing in a movie!
    Thanks again for the inside story! Glenn in the Bronx, NY

    Reply
  13. Milagro March 12, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Well of course the buffoonery was written out of JJ’s character. After James died, JJ, as the oldest male was expected to fill his father’s shoes. He was forced to grow up. He had to be a rock and a man for his mother, his little sister and brother. That happens in a lot of families. So I understand why his character became less “buffooned”. But…well…all black shoes back then and now have to include some “sista gurl”,”honey chile”,buffoon-infested,loud,”n****r” c**p to be considered anything worth watching. Even the Cosby Show had to have some buffoonery in it (Theo) to be a success. And Denise’s low brain cell count and dumb,airhead character added to the show’s success too. Shoot,her character dropped out of college! Only the parents’ characters were ‘oh so perfect’. So there’s no need to totally rule out The Cosby Show.

    Reply
    • Myonie Payton April 3, 2014 at 11:57 pm

      I never thought of Theo as a buffoon or his actions as buffoonery. He really came across as a knuckle head teen boy and literally grew into a man on the show. Denise came off more artsy than ditsy. Her dropping out of Hilman was an honest look at college life, some kids do drop out/quit. Even Vanessa’s lies, sneaking off to concerts and coming home married didn’t make her come off as a some tramp but another example of kids finding their way through life (ups/downs..needed smackdowns) and becoming their own adults while still being their parent’s children. I don’t even think Cliff and Claire were perfect, they really came across as two parents that ran their house as best they could raising 5 other personalities.

      Reply
  14. Glenn Krasner March 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    PAUL – IF YOU ARE STILL OUT THERE! This morning, I was reading the April 2012 issue of “Sister 2 Sister” magazine on the subway, and there on pages 14-15 is a story about the Michael Evans’ daughter, Carlena Harris, and Mr. Eric Monte, himself, currently negotiating the movie rights (selling them, that is) to movie studios, for a possible “Good Times” movie. Well, maybe a new generation will discover the show through the movie. Movie versions of an old tv show are a mixed bag – they tend to be very bad or very good, with no in-between. At least it will put some more black actors to work and put them in movie theaters. Casting the show with today’s actors could be interesting – I nominate Loretta Devine in the Esther Rolle part, and Angela Bassett in the Janet Du’bois part! Maybe Lawrence Fishburne int he John Amos role. I’m sure other ‘commenters’ will have other suggestions for the other roles. Take care! Glenn in the Bronx

    Reply
  15. Pattye August 7, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    I watched “Good Times” for a couple of Dynamites and I was finished. Even back then there was better TV to watch.

    Reply
  16. Dave November 23, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Like what?

    Reply
  17. Dave November 23, 2012 at 1:08 am

    The Cosby show was good, but Good Times was great!

    Reply
  18. Classy women need a comeback January 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    JJ was an idiot, so what. The truth is in many families you have smart members, dumb members, and the ones in the middle. Why is it that everytime there’s an unintelligent Black person on TV, people want to protest about it? Honestly, it would be unrealistic to turn on a TV and see nothing but educated intelligent Black people because in every race of people you have the idiots. Don’t get me wrong, if it was an all White show and the only Black person was an idiot, yes I would be horribly offended. In this case, the family had smart members (Michael and Thelma), those with average intelligence (parents, though uneducated were wise), and the one dumb member (JJ). It’s a good balance that makes for an interesting show.

    Reply
    • Tab April 17, 2013 at 1:51 am

      I Must AGREE with Classy, Happy Days had th Fonze with his thumbs and “AYEEEEE”

      Reply
  19. freeze February 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    The show was fun and entertaing. No all was in favor of the show and true it had it’s flaults. I look at it as a struggling black family that was trying to make a life with what provision that was presented and how they delt with them…………You see I remember the days of Amos and Andy and those was all we had to watch back in my day in time so JJ and family was a great step up. We can’t please all so some just go with the flow. One thing for sure they were able to put some money in their pocket and to find out the writers were Eric Monte and Michael Evan was something I didn’t know. Plus they were brother that got their work stolen.

    Reply
  20. cheche February 10, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    I actually knew the cast from Good Times and here my take on the actors. Easter Rolle was a very mean person always angry. JJ was as arogant and stuck up as they came maybe this is why Easter did’nt like him. Thelma was also extremely mean and stuck up and thought she was above common black folks Michael, Willona, and James Evans were the nicest kindest most grounded of all of them and it was a pleasure to meet them.

    Reply
  21. Latrice February 11, 2013 at 1:46 am

    What I noticed about good times was the character James. Even though there was a father in the house, they made the family struggle so much that it practically rendered him useless. I wonder if James Amos was bothered by this. It was like they resented having to put a dad on the show so they had it where he might as well not have been there

    Reply
    • Peaches March 9, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      You answered your own question..they don’t want a black family to exist so they destroy the very dignity of a black man to destroy the hope of a positive image of a black family achieving the “American Dream”. Doesn’t it seem odd that after the struggles they never got a real break . Even for the character “James” to try to start his own business, but was busted by the janitor/super who would rather take advantage of him rather than support him. I’m referring to the episode when James started repairing appliances to make extra money.

      Reply
  22. Leroy Smith February 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    I am digging all of these comments about Good Times

    Reply
  23. Chris Pyles March 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I feal since the show was doing good no one should have complained if it aint broke do fix it. But as always we manage to ruin a good think.

    Reply
  24. Chris Pyles March 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Every show had a dumb charactor JJ Chrissy Snow Vera from Alice Lamont from Sanford and Son. That stuff sells wake up people and just collect the money.

    Reply
  25. Ish Muhammad March 9, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    When Janet Jackson played penny & was Abused I can remember crying at shows end! Gary Coleman started on this show,Kim Fields & Her Mom was on the Show as Well.My Cousin(Bobby Graham)born March 31,1969 was friends with Todd Bridges born 1967 & Todd was off the Hook,I didn’t even go outside when He was around lol He was on TV & jumping off Roofs lol My Cousin was with Todd when He hollered 187 back in the Day! Johnnie Cochran to the Rescue! lol I have not been back to LA since 2011 but they Changed the Name of my old Middle School Mount Vernon Jr High Now it’s Johnnie L Cochran Middle School I never knew He went to Mount Vernon Jr High when he moved to LA from New Orleans much love to all the Black TV Giants I love all y’all at 42 d**n where that time Go!

    Reply
  26. AintMsBhavn69 March 19, 2013 at 4:45 am

    I Loved The Tv Show Good Times,Its a Tv Show That Many Of Us Can Relate to,Either It Was Your Family Going Through Bad Times Or You Knew A Family Who Was Going Through Bad Times,It Dealt With Real Issues,Unemployment,Welfare,Evictions,Teenage Pregnacy,Child Buse,The Depicts Real Issues,I Myself Embraced The Show,And For Jj Playing A Role Of A Clown,All I Saw Was A Young Man Who Didnt Take Life Serious,But Who Eventually Turned Into A Very Responsible Young Man,Remember he Supported The Household While Florida Was Away Honeymooning..

    Reply
  27. jhwjr1970 March 25, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I watched the show for one reason only THELMA.

    Reply
  28. Ronna March 25, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    I absolutely LOVE Good Times…. Seen every episode a million times and I still watch when it comes on. I’m enjoying all of the comments here. Now about JJ…. JJ’s character really didn’t and doesn’t bother me like it does some. JJ wasn’t that bad. He was actually a good kid. He didn’t drink or smoke or do drugs…. He wasn’t in a gang (although Mad Dog tried to force him once) He wasn’t out in the streets. He wasn’t hustling drugs. He was just stupid in school….LOL He told a lot of jokes… and cut on his sister a lot. Was he really that much of a buffoon? OK, so he said DYN NO MITE…I’m curious to know what things JJ did that made him a buffoon? I do think he was a bit goofy at times… I think Florida was probably jealous of the attention he got…so she got more and more p****d when it wasn’t about her.

    Someone mentioned earlier that JJ was arrogant. I believe it because I was at a show where he was the open act… After the show he was out front selling his t-shirts….and the way he was acting towards people was ridiculous. He wouldn’t have anything to do with you unless you were buying his stuff. He was extremely rude.

    Thanks for the info…. I enjoyed reading…. Love getting any info on good times.

    Reply
  29. tinyurl.com April 15, 2013 at 5:06 pm

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  30. Paula April 16, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    GOOD TIMES!! was and still is the best of the best, what i hated about is when James Evans AKA John Amos Left the show! Now i thought he left because he did the movie ROOTS!!! not because he was fired. I loved James he was so real loved his family and did the right thing! Now when he found that bag of money brother james i would have kept it and never told florida nothing! Ijs!! JJ did what he had to do, back in the ’70 black people had to do what he had to do if he had to act like a fool, he got paid, ijs. THELMA was pretty and played her part, a girl becoming a women. Micheal played the little brother that was sexy to some not me. I beleive in the name of Jesus Christ and know That Florida was doing was she knew best is trusting in the lord somethings that she begged James not to do could have put them over the top but still she did the right thing. Now my girl Valoina or Boloina loved her too i wish she could of been married or getting married i think that would make the single women in those days that some man would except a already made family. Love Love the show it comes on TV ONE 10am and 1030 am M-F THE BIGGEST MISTAKE IS WHEN JAMES WAS KILLED OF THE SHOWED.IJS

    Reply
  31. Arnetta April 16, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    i love “Good Times” and wish it had stayed on television. i wish more of our men today were like James Evans. he loved his family, respected his wife, and always tried to do the right thing. he was a provider and a protector. *smh* are there any men like that still around?…..ijs

    Reply
  32. Monique Drake April 16, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Goodtimes, The Jeffersons, Sandford & Son and What’s Happening were the best shows of all time, in my opinion.

    Reply
  33. SHIRLEYMEANS April 16, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    GOOD TIMES WILL ALWAYS BE ONE OF MY BEST SHOWS EVER. I ALWAYS SAW THE NAME MICHEAL EVANS I DIDNOT KNOW IT WAS LIONEL FROM THE JEFFERSON. AND WAS THAT JANETDUBOIS -WILLONA WHO WAS SINGING THE SONG.AND
    I THOUGHT HER NAME WAS VILLONA

    Reply
  34. Gabriel Quinney April 16, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    I love Good Times and I think sometimes the show gets a bad rap because of one character. JJ to me was the comic relief and as he got older, his character matured as well.

    Good Times dealt with a lot of issues such as bullying, teen pregnancy, child abuse, cancer etc. A lot of today shows won’t even touch those subjects but Good Times did and I hope we all remember that.

    Reply
  35. Lena P April 17, 2013 at 7:51 am

    I never liked Thelma. She was just to perfect. She was too goody goody and she would say or do something that JJ did and it was okay, but JJ would get in trouble for it. She always over-acted for me. Like when she found the drugs in Dianna’s purse, so mellow-dramatic, it almost took away from the seriousness of drug abuse. Of course, because of my dislike for her then, when I see her on anything or hear her on the radio, I just turn her off.

    Reply
  36. Tonya G. April 17, 2013 at 10:01 am

    The line is not “Easy Credit rip off’s it “Easy craddle rip off’s”… during those times in the pj’s is what happened most… Credit was far from happening in the “ghetto” except to those who understood money and finance and there were only a few shows that actually allowed the dynamics of obtaining credit from a black family for significant reasons..i.e. JJ’s art supplies, the encyclopedia purchased which was for $5 down and $2 a week.. and of course the episodes where Walona could obtain credit from the boutique. All in all having lived in the pj’s and seeings the times of hardship and how our “black” families have struggled and survived during those times… it was nice to hear words that could have actually been said in our own households… the reality is that even though the depictiion of the family is seen as degrading, its real and even to this day there are families who have not come out of that state.. I was a child growing up on these shows and now my children watch the DVD’s and ask questions concerning it and my response to them is that we “blacks, African-Americans” have come a long way and teach them to be grateful for the things they have and have come to be able to obtain. As adults we want our children to have the better because we are aware of the lesser we had at one time; however to know and accept your history as a people is to grow and teach it to the younger so they too can understand and not take for granted the struggle others put forth so that we can have what we do today. I personally use TV sitcoms for strictly entertainment. As for TV today, there isnt a show on that I would watch because none of them have the substance of realness to it… it is all commercial. So I keep it purely drama… Law and Order SVU… the best show on (even in reruns lol)..ijs..

    Reply
  37. Ques Rule April 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    I love watching Goodtimes but as I have gotten older I noticed a lot things that disturbed me: for a family that was supposed to ne be as poor as they portrayed to be why was jJ always wearing Levis jeans when In the early 70′s those jeans cost you @ least $50 and Thelmas hair was always laid out as if she went to the hair dresser every week and wearing gold chains as if gold was cheap back then when you can barely afford to pay 70 dollars a month rent but styling gold chains – the only one dressed as if they were poor was James and Michael ; Thelma wearing tight jordache jeans and wilona dressing like a model but living in the projects with no kids before Penny came along . I just don’t get it if they were all just that poor!!!

    Reply
  38. Lateafa April 19, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    A line of those lyrics are incorrect. It’s not “hanging in a chow line”. They never hung in a chow line. The correct lyrics are “hanging and a jiving”.
    You may want to change that.

    Reply
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  40. Eric Matterson April 26, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    They sure don’t create sitcoms the way they used to. You can say the same about music and movies.

    Reply
  41. Dee April 27, 2013 at 12:02 am

    I loved the show only because it made me laugh and wonder how it would have been to have a true man running my house growing up, the house the way the character in this show did. He loved his wife, children and stood up as a man in his house. That’s what I loved about the show. A lot of men today have given that role up and turned it over to the woman to deal with…it’s just so sad.

    Reply
  42. Blacjk jones April 27, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    IT WAS COMEDY FOLKS!!! THE COSBYS WAS TOO PERFECT, GOOD TIMES WAS’NT PERFECT ENOUGH, GIVE ME A BREAK!!!! WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM IMPERFECT HUMAN BEINGS—-WE ARE SO CONFUSED —PERFECTION TAKES A LONG TIME TO PERFECT.(IF EVER)….MICHAEL BALANCED JJ OUT __AS FAR AS I WAS CONCERNED THE SHOW WAS HILARIOUS—and a WELCOME STRESS RELIEVER THAT KEPT ME IN STITCHES.

    Reply
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  44. Rod April 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    It was a comedy folks, and relatable to some folks in many ways. It captured many aspects of life thanks to good acting and experiences they may have had pertaining to some of the scripted topics. Those who lived in the inner cities or “Ghettos” were relieved to find out that they were not the only ones who knew that lifestyle and were comforted by the fact that at times some light could be shed on a lifestyle they themselves were familiar with. That show could’ve easily been filmed in N.Y. dealing with the same exact topic. It dealt with real topics and solutions to some issues that some felt there were no solutions to. Believe it or not, it taught some people how to deal. Im a product of the inner city, the projects, the hood, the ghetto, etc. I call it Brooklyn (East New Your), better yet, i call it “Home”, and I know there was a difference in my experiences then others not familiar with it and this makes it easy to pass judgement. Its not like we could relate to Happy Days, The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch, etc.

    Reply
    • Bria Stelly January 3, 2014 at 8:11 am

      It was a great show for it’s time, it & other earlier shows paved the way for actors who came after the ability to negotiate better contracts concerning royalties, pay etc. I actually grew up in the 70s & 80s in South Central California & I also loved the shows Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family as I loved Whats Happening, Three’s Company, The Jeffersons, Gimme A Break, Facts of Life, Different Strokes, Good Times. They were all funny entertaining shows that all races could watched, laugh, fall in love with, some more than others true indeed. Other shows like Welcome Back Carter & Alice were great & fun to watch as well. These were classic comedy sitcoms the whole family could watch & enjoy together. Happy New Years 2 All!

      Reply
  45. Lang May 13, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    I like good times when James was on after he died the show went down hill but my favorite was the Jefferson now that was a funny show George Jefferson didn’t play neither we work himself out of Harlem in a middle class area in queens were they met the bunkers then four years later they struck wealth with a couple of dry cleaners then they move to manhattan into a nice big penthouse apartment and there u have the Jefferson moving on up….

    Reply
  46. Greg May 15, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Bad lyrics,
    Anytime you MEET a payment
    Anytime you MEET a friend

    Hanging and a JIVING

    Reply
  47. Miss T May 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    “Watching the aspalt flow”…

    Reply
  48. Iris May 30, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Good Times is one of my favorite shows of all time. I loved Florida! Even though I’m white, I could relate to the storylines because I grew up in similar circumstances in a small town in Kansas. I had no idea of the ages of the actors, though! I would have never guessed such an age gap between Florida and James, or only 2 years between JJ and Willona. Doesn’t matter, anyway. They were incredibly believable and what I liked best about the show is that even though it was incredibly funny, it always carried a powerful message. IMO, Florida Evans was the best mom on TV hands down.

    Reply
  49. Séasun May 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I always thought the show was just about Thelma! I mean, that’s why I watched all the time, and I was just a little kid!

    Reply
  50. mike freeland May 30, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Wow! I knew some of this but some I didn’t…. like the feelings about JJ character and the one line in the song…”hang’n in a chow line”…I always said “hanging and a jiving”. LOL

    Reply
  51. Jo Natha Cooper May 30, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    My favorite episode was the one where the lady ate cat food and invited the Evans to dinner lol still very funny.

    Reply
  52. Mare May 30, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I love all the ’70′s tv sitcoms – Good Times, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, What’s Happening, All in the Family, Maude….

    Cant get enough!

    Reply
  53. Alejandro Bustamante May 30, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I thought it was “making a wave when you can”.

    Reply
  54. Msqwalker May 31, 2013 at 12:50 am

    I love the one went flo, brought that pot roast from the store and everyone got sick , and also the one when the through the neighbor had made a meatloaf out of catfood…………

    Reply
  55. Lizzie Romero May 31, 2013 at 1:17 am

    As an Argentine growing up in NYC during the late 70s, it was fabulous to experience the multicultural family sitcoms: Good Times, What’s Happening, Michael J Fox’s first show (forgetting the name), Different Strokes, etc.

    As for JJ’s role, what stuck out for me was that he was the sensitive artiste in the family which made him very special for me the viewer. I focused on that much more than his silliness though of course as a kid I didn’t understand all the social nuances portrayed. Like many of you have written, I also felt the show was trying to showcase all the different types of roles members of a family often have. I found JJ quite talented and his comedic timing is a tremendous gift to have. I remember actually looking up to him for that reason :) When I later read an article where he was quoted as saying he was ashamed of his role, I remember being so sad that he felt that way.

    Reply
  56. Darren August 10, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Jj/JIMMY WALKER was a COMIDIAN/COMIC

    Reply
  57. whatever August 11, 2013 at 7:52 am

    I to date still watch Good Times and it had nothing to do with JJ. The storylines were good to me. They never really gave little Mike much play. In my opinion JJ is still that a*s today. Dynamite.

    Reply
  58. G Freeman August 12, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Question; Does anyone know what’s on the other side of the door next to their refrigerator? The doors been shown in plenty of shots, but I’ve never seen it open nor have I ever seem them use it.

    Reply
    • JAMES August 23, 2013 at 1:15 am

      THEY ALWAYS HAD FOOD IN THE REFRIGERATOR. WHY DO YOU THINK BOOKMAN WAS ALWAYS IN THERE APARTMENT ! THEY ALWAYS ATE THE STANDARD MEAL LIKE THE REST OF US DID IN OUR HOME !

      Reply
  59. JAMES August 23, 2013 at 1:08 am

    I BET , EVERY WEEK WHEN GOOD TIME CAME ON EVERY BLACK FACE IN AMERICA WAS TRYING TO GET TO THE T.V. TO SEE IT , BECAUSE SOMEONE’S CHARACTER IN THAT TELEVISION SHOW RELATED TO THEM YOU , YOU COULD FEEL IT IN THE AIR . SOPHISTICATION IN 2013 ARE EATING Y’ALL BRAIN AWAY .

    Reply
  60. Sheila August 23, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    This show demonstrated how some of us NEVER rise above our situation. They started in the ghetto and ended in the ghetto. And the strange thing was “a black family in the gheto who NEVER attended church?” I never could understand that. I never watch the re-runs anymore. The show is demeaning.

    Reply
    • goodtimeslover October 7, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      Actually, they did get out of the ghetto in the last episode. Thelma and her husband moved to a house on the upper Westside(I think) and they took Florida with them. Willona and Penny moved also. Their house ended up being beside Thelma’s. Michael went to college. And JJ moved out on his own. And Florida did attend church, just not everyone else. Soooo…….

      Reply
  61. a view from another side August 24, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    I stumbled on this website to read the article because I watched this show as a child and loved it. I may have been part of a white family in Jersey City, NJ, but I lived right next to the projects and many of my friends lived there. Our apartment building wasn’t far off either. For me, it was just another family going through what mine did. Not a black family, just a family. I believe Good Times helped bridge that gap for many.

    Reply
  62. Chel August 27, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    I loved Good Times and still watch it. I don’t see why people think that Good Times was demeaning. It was based on a writer’s life story. There is always a clown in the family, and although JJ was suppose to be less than smart, he was a very gifted artist. And there were plenty of white shows that had buffoonery and I’m sure whites would say it was demeaning to them… Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Three’s Company, Mork & Mindy… Just to name a few. It was all entertainment, and just because it doesn’t represent your household maybe it represents someone else and they could look at this show and feel if they are happy and having a good time in the ghetto then maybe life is not that bad. And what about the shows today that show the same silliness, Meet the Browns, Love thy Neighbor… It seems that whenever a black TV show comes on that is how we are portrayed, or if it’s a serious white show then there is only 1 black on the whole sitcom and usually were the one acting a fool or dumb. You have to take it all in stride and either choose to watch it or not.

    Reply
  63. alonzo Roberts September 14, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I didnt no better then because of my age but not only was jj silly he was a player and i had a bad crush on thema love micheal and james it was the only black show that showed how it truly was in the hood .and i really loved when jj matured it was my favortive show black tv show that did tackle some real issues in the hood

    Reply
  64. sunny October 5, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    What happened to Florida’s second husband-Carl?I know everything good times but I can’t figure how he was written off. Florida left Arizona, came back for Thelma’s wedding;no explanation of why she was Florida Evans or what happened to Carl. Please someone solve this mystery. It’s the only thing I can’t figure out!

    Reply
    • mary March 18, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      I just saw the episode when she came back for the wedding, and it was pretty strongly implied that Carl died. They moved to Arizona because he had lung cancer, and when Florida came back she gave a book to Michael and said something along the lines that it was special and “Carl and I wanted you to have it”. Pregnant pause for a few seconds after while the kids looked at her all sad-like. Never mentioned again, but I think that was part of the stipulation to get Esther back on the show: she wanted his character written off.

      Reply
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  67. Kim November 16, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    I love this show today still. I lived in Baldwin Hilla as a little girl it’s in California and Ester Rolle lived down the street. I do remember that she was so mean. Always snappy to everyone. No one really talk to her in the area because of that. I was disappointed that she was that way. Thanks for the fun facts!

    Reply
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  70. Terry Johnson December 9, 2013 at 4:15 am

    I loved Good Times. My favorite episode is when
    JJ gets shot and James goes to court to make sure the guy pays for what he did and he has what I believe are pretzels or maybe pencils and cracks them to make it sound like he is breaking dudes legs…priceless!! Also when Janet Jackson, Mizz Jackson if ya nasty, came on the scene and tootie’s ( Kim Fields) momma Chip was beating her…I wanted to hit her in the mouth!

    Reply
  71. kahlil December 11, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Ralph Carter aka Michael Evans is politcally conscious in real life just like the show.He has multiple degrees in African Studies and extremely well rounded in global affairs.

    Reply
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  73. Omar Johnson January 9, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Anybody know the name of the song when JJ and Thelma were
    Dancing. When Thelma got a job

    Reply
  74. Rob J January 12, 2014 at 2:36 am

    One of my favoite shows! And it is hanging in a chow line. That comes from one of the cast members thelma, she was on life after. Very good story.

    Reply
  75. Lynn February 13, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I see this show as an unfortunate start of decline for black people. Prior to this show, black people/characters walked, talked and acted like everyone else. JJ’s character began to walk, talk and act different and it became associated with acting “black” creating a Hollywood stereotype that is still portrayed today. When you watch the show, the other characters (parents and siblings) did not speak with any dialect. In all countries and all races people are judged by their ability to speak the native language correctly. Incorrect grammar/words will hold people back, as will some accents (watch “My Fair Lady”). I would like to see people hold themselves to a higher level of accountability in language and behavior as that is what will truly open doors. We need to reject what is holding people back, and stop pretending it isn’t so. Interesting to see that the parents in the show were also bothered by this (items 8, 9 and 10 above). Accountability: we will be treated as lowly as we act.

    Reply
  76. Allen Jerkins February 25, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I’m a 39 year old white male, and “Good Times” was one of my favorite shows as a kid. And yes, I too had a little crush on Thelma. It’s only as I’ve gotten older that I’ve understood some of the more weighty social issues that the show tackled, both directly and indirectly.
    I can say this- when you ask me to name a TV dad, the first one I think of is Andy Taylor (“The Andy Griffith Show”). But ask me to name a TV mom, and Florida Evans will probably come to mind first. Great acting from both her and John Amos.

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  78. Korean March 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Love goodtimes still do and always will

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  79. Korean March 8, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    I love goodtimes I’d give anything to go back to the 70′s I hate it now all these reality shows with African Americans fighting cursing among each other pure ignorance in the 70′s there was a sense of unity and coming together they had to stop that can’t have blacks being to strong the men wareing their pants down round their ankles the women angry looking like s***s I hate how it is now in the 70′s there was brother and sister hood unity now it’s a shame just listen to the garage on the radio none of the music now compares to the temptations Marvin gaye smokey Robinson e.t.c

    Reply
  80. Dontrell Laxton March 18, 2014 at 1:28 am

    f**k all the characters except JJ. Esther rolle is too d**n old to be jealous and wilona is a golddigger and Micheal and Thelma never positively supported JJ with s**t.

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  82. Clarice Smith April 7, 2014 at 10:57 am

    I watched GOOD TIMES during the 70 ‘s and am watching them at present nightly. I like the episodes with John Amos because he gives a POSITIVE image having a FATHER in the household. FLORDIA portrays the STRONG mother, a role Black women have always had to be in order to keep their families together. It’s sad that WHITE PEOPLE can’t ACCEPT Black families having the same goals for family life as their own. JJ was funny, but Black children know they have to prepare themselves for life. It’s NOT all about fun and games.

    Reply
  83. John April 14, 2014 at 1:31 am

    I came across this site in a totally roundabout way. As a white boy growing up in the seventies in a relatively affluent neighborhood, I can tell you that this show profoundly impacted my growth and development.

    Good Times was a GREAT show at first…it degenerated a bit but what show doesn’t? Anyone who thinks this was just another stupid comedy doesn’t get it.

    Wow there were TONS of good shows in that era…All in the Family, Bob Newhart, MASH…dozens more. Since this site obviously focuses on Black issues I’ll give you my opinion (in case you care) about the “Black” shows from that era and later.

    I liked Sanford and Son too but I watch it now and find it mostly silly.

    The Jeffersons started strong but I never bought the premise. Before long it degenerated into something almost meaningless. (Do you remember the episode about the “George Jefferson Museum”? Terrible! Almost like a cartoon!)

    What’s Happening was harmless fun but it wasn’t devoid of content. The main character (was it Roger?) was a positive role model for any kid of any ethnicity.

    The Cosby Show…meh.

    I wasn’t old enough to have ever seen Julia.

    It’s a shame that IMO the Black role on TV hasn’t grown more than it has.

    As for the lyric it always sounded to me like “hangin’ in a chow line” but I too read somewhere that it was actually “hangin’ and ‘a jivin.’”

    Reply

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