Soopa Starr’s Blaxploitation Friday: Good Times

blame it on Meka January 9, 2009


Now that I’ve gotten that fuckery ouot of the way, enjoy the first new Blaxploitation Friday of the ’09 season. And as always, if you’re digging this, hit up Gangstarr Girl for a fresh take on hip-hop, politics, fashion and other worldly and wordy things through the eyes of a New York-helmed around-the-way girl. Without further adeiu…

1974-1979 (132 Episodes)
Synopsis: You’re kidding me right? lol
As JJ would say, “It’s the story of a happenin’Black family trying to make it in the Chicago get’toe.” *claps, then points both index fingers outward* DYNOMITE!

I’m a fan of Good Times. Aside from the banging theme song that already stands alone, it was a groundbreaking TV series because it was the first time America got a glimpse of what hood life was really about–a little bit. Of course it was a comedy series so things were often presented lightly, but sometimes they really did get deep. Remember when JJ got shot? Or how about when James died? (Dayum! Dayum! Dayum!)

Back on the brighter side though, Wilona Woods’ fashion was to die for. And I loved the endless jokes about “Buffalo Butt” and “Ned the Wino.” I’ve seen quite a few Neds in my time. I’m not old enough to have actually been there in the 70s but I love watching Good Times re-runs on TV One.


Good Times was a spin off of the 1971 TV series, Maude, where Esther Rolle played “Florida Evans,” maid to Maude, a well-to-do liberal woman living in Tuckahoe, NY with her fourth husband.

Ja’Net Dubois (Wilona Evans) wrote and helped sang the theme song (she’s the primary female voice).

Janet Jackson payed “Penny,” Wilona’s adopted daughter.

The projects they lived in were based on Chicago’s notorious Cabrini-Green houses.

Esther Rolle (Florida Evans) and John Amos (James Evans) often butted heads with the producers of the show because they didn’t like the depiction of J.J.’s (Jimmie Walker) character. They thought he was a coon. Despite the fact that the Evanses were poor and lived in the projects, they were a positive family. Rolle and Amos thought J.J.s antics, which began to become the primary focus of the show, were the converse of the overall wholesome Evans image. At the end of the 1975-1976 season, John Amos was so fed up that he quit the show and producers decided to kill off James Evans. Rolle was furious now that J.J was the man of the house, and threatened to quit but was dissuaded by producers who promised to give her a new husband–auto-repair shop owner Carl Dixon (Moses Gunn). When J.J.s character did not change for the better, Rolle left. Producers explained her away by saying that she and her husband were on a honeymoon (while Wilona stayed and watched over the family). Rolle eventually came back (about 12 episodes later) to the cast without her husband whose absence–in typical sitcom fashion–was never explained. John Amos however, left for good.

*All research for this piece was taken from Barnes and Nobles, people who were around and old enough to follow pop culture in the 70s, and the Good Times DVD bonus features.