Good Times

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Good Times TV Poster Image
Dy-no-mite '70s sitcom with a social message.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

 

The series reinforces positive values while dealing with universal issues including poverty, violence, and social injustice. It also presents themes specific to the African-American community, including African-American history and social activism. Early episodes move away from African-American stereotyping, while later episodes reinforce them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Flo and James Evans demand respect for authority, honesty, and a strong work ethic from their children.

Violence

James often threatens to punch when arguing with other men. Siblings often threaten to hit each other, but they're disciplined for doing so. Both parents threaten to hit their children -- using words such as "spank," "beat," "whip," and "paddle" -- as a means of disciplining them, but they're never seen acting on it.

Sex
Language

Fairly mild: "hell," "damn," "butt," etc. Terms often considered racist today are sometimes used, including "spook."

Consumerism

Ebony magazine is prominently visible. Occasional references to products, such as Jheri Curl. References to African-American actors, athletes, and other prominent figures of the 1970s.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Occasional consumption of beer and tobacco products.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this classic sitcom revolves around an African-American family living in the Chicago projects during the 1970s. The series addresses some difficult issues -- including poverty, gangs, violence, and theft -- but manages to keep a sense of humor. Family values are highlighted; they're often discussed within the context of Christianity. Parents also need to know that the series discusses racial bigotry and African-American empowerment. Later episodes also portray some African-American stereotypes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byclarence August 5, 2015
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written bycooldude1234 May 6, 2011
I absolutely love this show. I watch it all the time and it is hilarious. They have hilarious lines. They have hilarious mishaps. They have hilarious charaters.... Continue reading

What's the story?

A spin-off of fellow classic sitcom Maude, GOOD TIMES follows an African-American family struggling to survive the hardships of living in the Chicago projects in the 1970s. With the help of her well-intentioned but often-unemployed husband James (John Amos), Florida "Flo" Evans (Esther Rolle) is raising a family in a neighborhood plagued by poverty, gang violence, street crime, and racial discrimination. James and Flo are committed to raising their children -- aspiring artist J.J. (Jimmie Walker), teenage Thelma (BerNadette Stanis), and young-but-intellectual Michael (Ralph Carter) -- with strong moral values that include respecting their elders, each other, and themselves. During both the good times and the bad, the Evans family is supported by friends like neighbor Willona Woods (Ja'net Dubois) and, later, building superintendent Nathan Bookman (Johnny Brown) and Willona's adopted daughter, Penny (Janet Jackson). Together the group stays positive by believing in each other and the importance of striving for a better life.

Is it any good?

During the first few years of its original 1974-1979 run, Good Times served as a platform for discussing social injustice in urban America. Early episodes moved away from stereotypes by presenting strong African-American characters with something constructive to say about the issues of the time -- including Watergate, the gas crisis, and inflation. Also significant was the show's focus on African-American pride, most notably articulated through Michael, who even at a young age was a committed activist for his community.

Unfortunately, in later years Good Times shifted away from being a vehicle for positive family values to centering on the Walkers' brand of comedy -- which includes a lot of behavior that reinforces African-American stereotypes of the time. Nonetheless, the show expanded the boundaries of African-American television, providing a strong foundation for future positive African-American role models.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way that TV portrays cities. Why are problems like violence and drug use often shown as "inner-city" problems, when they're really everywhere? Is it possible to live a good life in the inner city despite the social problems? Why do you think that kind of life isn't shown more in the media? Families can also talk about strong African-American TV characters. Who do you think serve as positive African-American role models on television today? Why? How have African-American TV characters changed over time?

TV details

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