Good Times



Dy-no-mite '70s sitcom with a social message.

What parents need to know

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

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


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.

Not applicable

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


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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Cast:Esther Rolle, Jimmie Walker, John Amos
Networks:Syndicated, TV Land
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

this is a funny show becauseit s a 70s show but it is a vary good show

i love this show and i hope other peopel do to
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. It is just a great show. The highlights for this show are that they have great messages. They show a black family living a normal life in the ghetto. Even though they have problems around them. They make the best of their lives and have good times. They have great role models. The whole family tries to get good decisons and they watch out for eachother. The problems with this show is the language. The use words like h### and da!! Almost every episode and they insult people sometimes. The themes can also be mature sometimes but this show is great for 12 and up.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byrebma97 September 10, 2010

A family that doesn't always have "good times"

Good Times is an old series about an African-American family: The Evans. There's Flo and James, the parents and their three kids J.J. Wilma, and the youngest, Micheal. Despite it's title, the family often have bad times, but in the end they work everything out. This is a good family show, but it's mature for young kids. For example, there was a girl who had an abusive mother. Also, in one episode, someone is angry and depressed so they start drinking so they can forget about it. But it's all shown negatively. Overall, a good show for families and their tweens.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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