‘Good Times’ Esther Rolle Felt This Episode of the Hit CBS Comedy Was ‘Blasphemous’

Airing from 1974 to 1979, the Norman Lear-helmed comedy Great Times noticed the Evans household boldly deal with weighty subjects together with little one abuse, poverty, and unemployment.

Starring John Amos as family head James Evans, Esther Rolle as his spouse Florida, Jimmie Walker as their eldest son J.J., Bern Nadette Stanis as middle little one Thelma, and Ralph Carter as youngest youngster Michael, the present portrayed lifestyle as it was for a Black operating-course loved ones.

For demonstrate star Rolle, there was one particular subject matter that she discovered disrespectful and inappropriate. Even though she voiced her disapproval of the episode, Lear went forward with it.

A portrait of the cast of ‘Good Times’: Pictured are, entrance row, John Amos as James Evans (remaining) and Jimmie Walker as J.J. Evans again row, from left, Ralph Carter as Michael Evans, Bern Nadette Stanis as Thelma Evans, Ja’net DuBois as neighbor Willona Woods, and Esther Rolle as Florida Evans | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Photographs

What the present ‘Good Times’ was about

Excellent Situations was the initially television comedy to present a Black family members living in an city housing task. Regardless of the at-moments bleak situations depicted, the display discovered a way to be amusing.

In his 2017 dialogue with the Television Academy Basis, Walker touched on govt producer Lear’s desire to candidly broach subjects that could have been thought of taboo up until eventually that point.

Esther Rolle standing behind John Amos for a 'Good Times' promo
John Amos and Esther Rolle for ‘Good Times’ | Silver Monitor Assortment/Getty Photographs

“Norman Lear was a guy who…we included just about every main subject,” Walker said. “Anything to do with racism, everything to do with reverse racism, VD, senior citizens consuming dog meals, senior citizens not acquiring a location to live, senior citizens acquiring a sexual intercourse life. That’s Norman.”

Walker, evaluating Lear to another big network producer, famous that The Jeffersons creator would by no means go for a satisfied-go-fortunate type of application.

“Norman will never be a Content Times variety of dude,” he claimed. “He will hardly ever be a Garry Marshall style of man, that is not what he does. He is a dude who loves challenges. And you observed that in every display [of Lear’s]: All in the Household, Maude. It is always problems with Norman.”

The character of J.J. Evans was an artist

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Fantastic Periods co-creator Mike Evans who starred in All in the Spouse and children and The Jeffersons came up with the idea that “the J.J. character be a painter,” Lear wrote in his book Even This I Get to Experience.

“I frequented galleries and artists’ studios and together the way achieved and gathered a amount of the modern day greats, between them the black artist Ernie Barnes,” he continued.

Barnes’ artwork was applied on the sitcom as stand-ins for J.J.’s artwork. Lear chose to surround “an complete tale around J.J.’s newest piece of art,” which upset Florida Evans actor Rolle.

The episode that Rolle disapproved of

As it turned out, the eldest Evans child’s most latest piece of artwork turned out to be a portrait of Barnes’ vision of Jesus Christ as a Black gentleman. And as Lear recalled, Rolle strongly disliked the tale line.

“It was a Black Jesus, which Ernie Barnes took specific delight in. To Esther, who was pretty devoted to her church, the portrait itself and the dialogue discussion that essentially adopted was blasphemous,” the renowned tv producer reported.

‘Saturday Night Live’ pays tribute to the ‘Black Jesus’ episode of ‘Good Times’

Lear was astounded to have to “defend” the artwork piece to Rolle and to Amos as perfectly, who the producer mentioned had been “entirely on edge” with the episode’s topic subject.

The All in the Household creator famous: “Odd that the mostly white creating team of a clearly show about a Black loved ones was defending the notion of a Black Jesus to a Black girl, but to me that was all the evidence we required to know what an fascinating and multifaceted subject matter our story had engaged.”

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