Stepping into the iconic shoes of Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) and George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley) were Woody Harrelson and Jamie Foxx. Airing as they did in 1973 and 1975 respectively, both episodes tackled two subjects that are as difficult to talk about today as they were in the 1970’s: racism and sexism.
What I think made the live episodes so potent and so in your face is that not only to they still induce deep belly laughs, but they also force us to ask questions that can only be described as uncomfortable.
If you missed it or you would like to watch it again, the episode is available on the ABC site.
In 2014, Lear published his autobiography, Even This I Get to Experience. The narrative is the standard womb to tomb autobiography. Starting with his parents, the reader learns about his early life and then goes through to his adulthood, his marriages and his children and his iconic career as a comedy writer and a show runner.
Yes, the narrative for the book is pretty standard for an autobiography. While some parts of the book are a little slow, overall, it’s a good read. As both a fan and a writer, it’s always fascinating to learn how one’s experiences and the people they meet along the way can either consciously or subconsciously be found in the writer’s work.
The 1970’s were a time of upheaval and change in America. While some show runners were content to present the status quo to the audience, Norman Lear knew that America needed to see itself reflected on the small screen.
After the monumental success of All In The Family, Lear knew that it was time for a spin-off. The Bunker’s neighbors, George and Louise Jefferson were taken out of working class Queens and into a Manhattan high-rise. Titled The Jeffersons, George and Louise now have live in maid, Florence (Marla Gibbs), who loves nothing more than to torment her male employer. The Jefferson’s neighbor’s Helen and Tom Willis (Roxie Roker and Franklin Cover) are an interracial couple, which was unique for television at that time. Add in Harry Bentley (Paul Benedict), another neighbor, whose roots are across the pond and a relationship between the Jefferson’s son and the Willis’s daughter and you have the future of America reflected on television.
Like it’s predecessor, The Jeffersons was funny, controversial at times and forced the audience to not only look at the world around them, but accept that the world was changing.