All Articles Tagged "the jeffersons"
Time is money! That’s the best way to describe the “coinage” made from long-running TV shows. These are the programs that are recognizable by two or more generations; yo’ mama and yo mama’s mama have seen ’em. Look at The Simpsons, that cartoon comedy has been on since 1990 — I wouldn’t be surprised if granny stumbled upon Homer on TV and yelled, “Those yellow people are still on the air?!”
Longevity, without a doubt, is a marker of success: People love it, it’s likely a ratings juggernaut, and the network makes a coin off of it. Now, I can sit and babble on about how profitable these shows are, but how ’bout I show you instead — with facts and figures. With a focus on Black programming (after all, this is MadameNoire), let’s dive into the business of long-running TV shows… by the numbers.
Since the U.S. Census Bureau has been keeping record, interracial marriages have been on the rise. While there are more than 2.4 million mixed marriages in the U.S., Hollywood has been a bit slow in keeping up with times and portraying more interracial couples, but low and behold we’ve managed to find a few favorites over the years. Take a look.
“I Love Lucy’s” Ricky and Lucy Ricardo
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were one of, if not the first, interracial couple on television. Debuting in 1951, “ I Love Lucy” made groundbreaking history when it aired with the real-life husband and wife stars. The show followed the antics played out by comedian Lucille Ball while her husband looked helplessly on. The show lasted for six seasons and more than 60 years later, “I Love Lucy” remains popular with over 40 million Americans still tuning in.
Spinoffs are greatly appreciated for a few reasons: they allow viewers to see lesser characters develop independently; they give viewers a different take of the characters from the previous sitcom; and, finally, spinoffs are uniquely responsible for creating that ‘neighboring effect’ on television, allowing audiences and characters, alike, feel as if they are stepping from one living room into another. This has been seen time and time again in television. Cheers begot Fraiser, Grey’s Anatomy begot Private Practice, Buffy begot Angel, and Dr. Who begot Torchwood. Check out some our favorites over the years.
Some things are so great, so classic, so epic that they don’t need to be repeated. That wasn’t the case with these incredible spin-offs. From “Family Matters” to “Melrose Place,” television has seen some wonderful follow-ups that made us laugh, made us cry, and made us fall head over heels in love with some very special characters, like they were the originals. Check out this list of the most amazing spin-offs to ever grace out TV screens.
An Open Letter to Hollywood: Is It Just Me, Or Do Women Of Darker Complexions Always Get Cast In The Stereotypical, Negative Roles?
I was excited to see the movie Alex Cross not too long ago. The idea of one of my favorite celebrities, Tyler Perry, appearing in a role that was quite different from all of his others was enough to make me buy a ticket and go support him. I was impressed with the movie, but what I was not impressed with was their selection of characters. I must say, I was disappointment to discover that one of the few women in the movie who was of a darker complexion was once again playing something extremely negative. Another female stereotype for dark-skinned women. Come on Hollywood, enough is enough!
This movie was not the first time females of a darker complexion have been featured in stereotypical, negative roles. This unfortunate typecasting that is happening so frequently that the list of ghetto and criminal roles is becoming exhaustive. The dark-skinned female in Alex Cross was not only a criminal, but she was inarticulate as well. And this depiction made me think back on many other beautiful black women who looked like this woman and played a similar character on-screen. Angela’s character from the Why Did I Get Married movies and series is extremely loud and uncouth. The sole hood character in the beloved “The Proud Family” series, Dijonay, was a dark-skinned little girl. The drugged out prostitute, Candy, in Madea goes to Jail was dark-skinned. The list goes on and on and on. It’s a good thing I have enough sense to know that criminals and those with no level of tact come in all complexions, or else I may have been inclined to think the only women capable of living sub-standard lives are dark-skinned.
In the ’60s and ’70s there were a number of positive portrayals of women of darker complexions in both movies and television. The “Black is beautiful” motto afforded all types of black women the opportunity to be cast in a variety of roles. Dark-skinned beauties like Roxie Roker and Isabel Sanford played wealthy, married women in the long-running sitcom The Jeffersons. Isabel Sanford’s historic Emmy win for her role in The Jeffersons proved that others appreciated her talent and the versatility she brought to her character. And don’t even get me started on the graceful (but broke) Florida Evans on Good Times, or Maxine Shaw in Living Single. So what is going on with the limited positive characters for us now?
It may all boil down to our people and the power we hold in the media. Before I get electronically blacklisted, please read on. More and more African Americans have made influential decisions in what occurs in television and movies. To whites, black people are black people regardless of skin tone. We are usually the only ones hung up on the different shades we come in. I’m aware that there are other groups of people that experience colorism, but for the sake of argument, I’m only referencing black people and white people. Once white people opened up to the idea of allowing us to be in the media, there was usually a wide range of black people they selected for various roles. Fast forward to today’s world and we can find a large assortment of dark-skinned women playing criminals or hood rats and an even larger variety of light-skinned women playing classy, sought after women. Who is responsible for these distorted depictions of black women?
I believe we hold the power to promote or eliminate these biased viewpoints. Considering a dark-skinned woman is the First Lady of the United States, one would assume most of these inaccurate stereotypes would have been removed. But when we hear about people like S. Epatha Merkerson who had no problem vocalizing her displeasure with seeing a dark-skinned child playing a role she felt should have gone to a fair-skinned child, I realized exactly where stereotypes and negative undertones may come from. When our own people attempt to remove a role, recognition, and compensation from another solely because “she didn’t feel that a white person and a black person can create a dark child,” I can see why a lot of our roles are limited or menial at best.
Ms. Merkerson seems to share similar opinions of some rappers, actors, and other celebrities. They appear to have no qualms about stating their preferences and the scales do not generally tip in favor of women. with a darker complexion While it’s acceptable to state preferences, it is really starting to be unacceptable to continuously equate dark-skinned women with demoralizing traits more often than not. If you ask me, if it weren’t for loud, angry, criminal, and “Aunt Jemima” looking mammy roles dark-skinned women would be even hidden in Hollywood than they already are.
Just because I have an adequate understanding of the origin of many stereotypes doesn’t mean it should be tolerated even if many of them come from our own people. As I anxiously await more and more dark-skinned women to be represented fairly in the media, I will continue to be thankful for the ones who are making strides with more positive roles–however small in number they may be.
Sad news: Sherman Hemsley, the actor best known for playing the lead character, George Jefferson, on the hit TV show The Jeffersons, has died at the age of 74. Hemsley was also the star of the show Amen, playing the deacon of a Baptist church in Philadelphia, and began his career on the Broadway and off-Broadway stage. But it was George Jefferson that made him famous.
Over on the TIME website, Touré makes the case for the importance of this character to television history and for the portrayal of African Americans in pop culture. Funny jokes and smooth dance moves aside, George Jefferson painted a new and modern picture for the 1970s viewer — a wealthy black man living in the fancy part of town with his lovely wife, handsome son, a live-in maid, and a menagerie of interesting and diverse neighbors.
“…George was a seminal character, representative of upwardly mobile blacks in the midst of the affirmative action-powered 1970s,” Touré writes.
“Where James Evans of Good Times was humbled by his work life and just barely keeping his head above water, making it any way that he could, Jefferson was a shining member of the black upper-middle class who stuck out his chest and peacocked around his pretty high-rise: one of those who’d finally gotten a piece of the pie,” he continues.
Underneath the humor, there was a wonderful, radical story being told. Thanks, Sherman Hemsley, for bringing us this character. Read the rest of Touré’s column here.
In sad news, TMZ is reporting that Sherman Hemsley, best known as George Jefferson on the classic black family sitcom, “The Jeffersons,” has passed.
As for now, the site doesn’t have details on how Sherman passed, but has reportedly received word from Texas authorities that the 74-year-old actor died in his home in El Paso. For as much of a family man as he played on TV, Sherman appears to have had no immediately family, leaving no wife nor any children behind.
Beyond his unforgettable role as the other half of Weezy on “The Jeffersons”, and the sitcom “All in the Family” where his character originated, Philly-born Sherman is also well known for playing the uptight deacon Ernest Frye on the NBC sitcom “Amen.” He also had stints on the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Sister Sister,” and even recently Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne.” He will definitely be missed.
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The theme song says it best: “There’s no place like home.” That’s very true, and there wasn’t anything like 227 back in the day (aside from the very hard to top Cosby Show). On top of having a fun theme song, teaching us life lessons and showing off the hottest looks, trends, and things of the late ’80s (including Jackee), 227 was MAD entertaining because it was both positive and real. The show ended in 1990 and helped pave the way for many other classics and successful acting careers, but I had to show some love today to the D.C. based comedy and find out where folks are now. Let’s get to it!
Mary Jenkins was the queen of the gossips, and also happened to be the much loved and respected housewife in the apartment building inhabited by all kinds of cool and kooky folks. If there was one thing you needed to know about Mary, it was that she didn’t take no mess. And with Marla previously playing the sharp-tongued maid, Florence, on The Jeffersons, moving on to Mary seemed to be a piece of cake. After her years on the show, Gibbs did a lot of TV work, including guest appearances on Martin, a role on The Hughleys, and voice work for the TV series, “101 Dalmatians: The Series.” She’s currently filming Madea’s Witness Protection with Tyler Perry…
The population of the United States is more diverse than ever, but you wouldn’t know it by the TV guide. The number of roles for African-Americans has improved…slightly. There were over 30 Black actors and actresses on the primetime pilots scheduled for last Fall, and sprinkled throughout ensemble casts like Grey’s Anatomy. However, predominately minority casts are few, and largely regulated to cable channels like BET and TBS. For better or for worse, reality television is leading the way for diversity on TV. And that may not be such a bad thing.
Thanks to attractive economics, the reality format has come to rule the airwaves. Reality programming is cheaper than traditional programming in every way imaginable. It requires less equipment, a smaller crew, and fewer paid performers. Networks see reality television as a saving grace to balance the price of programming across their schedule.
Viewers and critics often lament the Black sitcoms of yesterday, complaining that shows like The Jeffersons, Martin, and Girlfriends are nonexistent. But, sitcoms are in decline overall. The popularity of reality television has come at the expense of the sitcom. In 2002-03, reality’s share of the top 10 prime time show audience almost tripled to 63%, while sitcoms’ share declined by more than half to 17%, according to historical data from The Nielsen Company. The television business and viewers’ taste has changed. It’s a safe bet that we will never see the amount of scripted Black sitcoms we had in the 90’s again.
Admittedly, most of reality television relies on well-worn stereotypes of women and minorities to shape its characters. Basketball Wives is not doing the image of Black women any favors. Even in showslike Survivor, minorities aren’t cast positively. Diversity means differences. Differences often stoke conflict, and conflict equals ratings. Watching Bad Girls Club can give one the urge to weep for the careers of talented out of work Black actors; however, is it possible that reality television can uplift, as well as tear us down?