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‘Good Times’ a ghetto mess

Producers pushed bad stereotypes/Spill Today

John & Esther stood up for blacks.

Blog King, Mass Appeal

CHICAGO — “DAMN, DAMN, DAMMMNNN!!!” Spill Today released the documentary of actor John Amos who had a fallout with producers of the ’70s family sitcom “Good Times” for broadcasting negative stereotypes of African Americans and for refusing to hire black writers for the show. White people wrote the scripts, and John — who played family patriarch James Evans — thought they did a despicable job of portraying the Black experience. “The truth of it was when the show first started, we had no African-American writers on the show,” John said during a 3-hour interview with Archive of American Television. “And some of the attitudes they had written, as per my character and, frankly for some of the other characters as well, caused me to say, ‘Uh… we can’t do this, we can’t do that.’ They’d go on about their credits… and I’d look at each and every one of them and say, ‘Well, how long have you been black? That just doesn’t happen in the community. We don’t think that way. We don’t act that way. We don’t let our children do that.'”

John, 84, also believed the producers placed too much cynosure on the shortcomings of big brother J.J. Evans (played by Jimmie Walker) — an illiterate artist who worked at a fried chicken joint. The scrawny nincompoop also idolized loan shark Sweet Daddy Williams. Instead of giving prominence to J.J.’s buffoonery, John felt more focus should’ve been placed on the professional ambitions of the other two kids: Michael Evans (who vowed to become a lawyer) and Thelma Evans (an aspiring surgeon).

John cussed out the producers, threatened to kill ’em, and received a pink slip. “I felt that with two other younger children, one of whom aspired to become a Supreme Court Justice… the differences I had with the producers of the show was that too much emphasis was being put on J.J. and his chicken hat,” John explained. “I was categorized by Norman [Lear] as a ‘disruptive element.’ When he made the call telling me I would no longer be with the show, he said that’s how I was described and assessed by the rest of the cast, and certainly the production company… so they kicked me off.”

Esther Rolle, who played matriarch Florida Evans, echoed a homogenous sentiment about J.J.’s dramatis personae. “He’s 18 and he doesn’t work,” she said. “He can’t read and write. He doesn’t think. The show didn’t start out to be that. They have made him more stupid and enlarged the role. Negative images have been quietly slipped in on us through the character of the oldest child. I resent the imagery that says to black kids that you can make it by standing on the corner saying, ‘DYNOMITE!'”

Esther left the show for 2 seasons before returning for the series finale.

Social media reaction was vicious.

One commenter wrote, “Can BLACK people write for Happy Days or Three’s Company or Married with Children or even Family Ties❓ Well, how in the hell can white writers do a Black show?”

Another viewer added, “White writers always had a negative stereotype about black people because they are racist.”

Are you proud of John for standing up for African Americans?

Did the writers try to make black people look stupid?

Watch the documentary.

Share your thoughts.

This Post Has 49 Comments

  1. This stuff actually started when LBJ forced black men from being head of the household. Offering the mom a welfare check… This is part two of the Willie Lynch affect…

  2. ❤️❤️❤️good times. james evans was my dad “in my head” and winona was my auntie💖💖💖

  3. I own and watched every episode numerous times. But i wasn’t into it when carl dixon came into the picture.

  4. Good Times was one of the best sitcoms on TV during it’s start. We loved the show including all the the characters. Although the JJ character was very funny and had us all cracking up, making the son the focal point of the show was a mistake! The show is supposed to be about a black family struggling to make it in Chicago. Not the JJ Show! I hated it when John Amos left the show but I completely understood why. It appeared the longer the series went on JJ was made the center stone of the show for laughs. Doing that held all the other characters back…. because now the writers had design the show around JJ’s jokes rather than the actual issues of black family life. If you notice many of the episodes with John Amos he is not even on camera most of the time he was either at work, coming home from work or walking out the bedroom. Even Esther Rolle grew tired of the fact that the family was not growing and maturing. Don’t get me wrong I love Jimmy Walker. The writers and producers mishandled this show from start to finish I do blame them!

  5. One thing that some might know is that Jimmy and John was only 7 or 8 years apart AND that Florida was about 20 years older than John. She look younger then “James Sr.”

  6. I don’t know what happened to Carl. When Florida came back from her honey moon in Episode 6. She never even mentioned his name. She was a true believer in God. Who married an atheist who had cancer. Maybe she killed Carl!

  7. John Amos was the anchor of the show. Once he left the show just went down hill.

  8. Every Black child in america
    Could’ve used a Dad
    Similar To
    James Evans

  9. RATINGS DROPPED ONCE THEY GOT RID OF John Amos aka James Evans after season 3 many including myself lost interest in the show

  10. Blame this on the racist beliefs of liberals! I to was raised w a Father and Mother. Most of the families I grew up with had two parents in the house. But social media, racist beliefs strive on destroying the Black families !

  11. As a white man, raised in a rougher part of Little Rock, I can tell you that 3 black men played a HUGE role in how I carried myself as a father and husband.

    Good Times and James Evans taught me tough love and working your a$$ off to provide for your family.

    The Cosby Show and Cliff Huxtable taught me that talking and education matter, and that it was ok to be a little silly. Communication was easily his strongest trait.

    Fresh Prince and Uncle Phil taught me that you don’t have to be the father of a young man to help him grow.

    All three taught me the value of treating your queen like a queen, but still being a leader in the home. As well as the importance of simply “being present” in the household.

    I’d like to think that if 3 black men could have such an influence on a poor southern white child….Anything is possible. Especially if we just LISTEN to eachother.

    Peace.

  12. I’m a white guy that loved watching good times My favorite character was Thelma. I always thought she was beautiful and sexxy. For Flo and Booker my condolences. These tv shows from back then were the greatest. Good times the Jefferson. What’s happening. Always will miss those shows. New shows nowadays suck. Old shows like good times always displayed family values I loved seeing Flo play The mama

  13. Good Times was not a great show, but John Amos was a great actor, and he made the show interesting. At first, it helped give a good image to a poor African American family. It was a shame John got fired. The best actors on it were John and the young boy. Jimmy Walker’s character was not that great.

  14. You can really see the producers trying to make this family look stereotypically stupid, and Amos resented that, clearly. After the civil rights act, television was probably one of the biggest reasons for the crumbling of black society.

  15. The day they got rid of the father, the show sucked big time!!!!! They never were behind the rent any more – so I guess it was the fathers fault lol

  16. Kudos, John Amos for standing up & speaking out against negative black stereotypes.

  17. I grew up watching Good Times, All in the Family, Sanford and Son aling with the Carole Burnett Show when they originally aired, not reruns. TV was actually good and made you really laugh. Now tv is just political and identity politics masked as comedy or family entertainment. I will say South Park has kept it honest for viewers.

  18. I loved this show when I was 5. I only realized, as an adult, that I never watched it to the end so that’s what I did. That was 15 or so years ago and I hated it. I hated that they fumbled every chance to get out of the projects. I hated that the two grown children couldn’t work and contribute to help them get it. I hated the recycled forced to join a gang story line for Michael after they already did it with JJ. The show was purposely made to keep them down. And then every time they had a chance to get right, Florida and her religious abuse, would keep them down.

  19. I used to watch this show when they were reruns back in the
    Middle 1980s, and loved every second of it.
    They were hilarious and showed how some families, no matter how hard times can and will get, can stick together without:
    “DRUGS, BOOZE, WEED,
    HAVING TONS OF DOLLARS,
    FANCY CARS, PANHANDLING, STEALING, GANG BANGING,
    BIG SCREEN T/V, COMPUTERS, AND ALL OF THE OTHER FANCY TRASH THAT PEOPLE OF TODAY WOULD RATHER DIE THAN BE WITHOUT!”
    In my book,
    “JOHN AMOS” is one of the best actors to ever be seen on T/V,
    I know he’s one of my top favorites of all time.
    I also admire the character that “AMOS” portrayed,
    And not because he’s
    AFRICAN AMERICAN,
    But the Man
    “LOVED HIS WIFE, CHILDREN, WAS 100% FAITHFUL, and as “JAMES EVANS SR” famously stood his ground telling others:
    “I AINT TAKING ANY HAND OUTS!”
    Even with having a 6th grade education (if my memory serves me correct)
    That shows “HONESTY, and
    SELF EFFICIENCY”,
    Something most greedy people of Today couldn’t even imagine, let alone understand.
    And knowing firsthand what I’ve been telling idiots Today about people like me (and others) who are handicapped:
    “JOBS ARE NOT AS EASY TO FIND AS RICH SNOBS WOULD LIKE EVERYONE TO THINK!”
    People like me (and others) with “EPILEPSY, HEART PROBLEMS, HISTORY OF STROKES, ETC”
    KNOW THIS FIRSTHAND!
    And I am extremely saddened by the passing of the mother on this show,
    She was a
    “FAITHFUL, and LOVING”,
    “WIFE, MOTHER”,
    Not a
    “GOLD DIGGER, LUXURY LOVER, UNFAITHFUL, NAGGER (and for idiots out there, yes I spelled the word “NAGGER” exactly as you see it. I’m NOT a RACIST PIECE OF TRASH as a lot choose to be),
    But She stood by her man through thick and thin no matter what.

    The makers of this show named it correctly,
    Because compared to today,
    “THE DAYS OF THIS SHOW WERE INDEED:
    GOOD TIMES!”

  20. Once again The Colonizers say,if I want your input, I’ll give it to you.
    John Amos is an elite and talented actor and a Black African gem.

  21. John Amos also did a guest spot on “Sanford and son“ on the famous episode where Fred tricks Lena Horne into coming to his house to win a bet.

    John plays one of Fred’s buddies who bets $15. In the end, though, Lena calls Fred’s bluff and Fred gives her all the money for her charity, and he gets one right across the lips from her.

  22. I grew up in foster care and grew up watching this show. Often times I would think, “this is how i want to raise my future family. ” with the same values and morals.

  23. Mr. Amos is the GOAT of TV dads. Hands down. His role has influenced the way I move as a parent. My father was very similar.

  24. John and Esther had the same grievance with Norman Lear as Redd Foxx. I’m glad they as like Redd Foxx stood their ground to prevent them portraying our people negatively.

  25. What an ASS. Your a bully and you couldn’t kick that stero type Black bully that was in your heart. Im sure you didn’t mind collecting your nice big paycheck. You think you are the only one that has worked a job and didn’t like the way things were run. Get over it. JJ was the only real man on that show. Go change your diaper and quit the show like a real man. You were just another thug and bully.

  26. He started having sour grapes over Jimmy Walker being more popular than him.

  27. I hated the silly ghetto style of JJ.
    I thought it would be better if all 3 children were striving to be their best, maybe JJ could strive to be an artist trying to get a gallery showing in a major gallery..

  28. Good Times was written by a black man and stolen by Norman Lear.. Facts
    His name is Eric Monte!

  29. It’s amazing to me that no one brings up the fact that Norman Lear was and is a racist. His perspective on black families was disrespectful, his vision for those shows that he created never displayed the true essence of black Americans.

  30. John Amos reminds me so much of my own (Italian) father which is part of why I loved Good Times.

  31. he looks great!!! just turned 84? on the other hand jimmy walker looks like well, yall seen him

  32. I think the real reason why they killed of the James character was in order to ‘Normalize the struggling single mother narrative..

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