Good Times, The Jeffersons: How did television help break racial barriers?

When Did TV Shows Start to Break Racial Barriers?

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July 23 2014 1:46 PM

When Did TV Shows Start to Break Racial Barriers?

This question originally appeared on Quora.

ikalish

Answer by Irma Kalish, producer and writer, Good Times:

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I think barriers were starting to break down when my husband, Rocky, and I worked on Good Times. The show actually portrayed a black family, and the idea was not to show the family as different. We weren’t going to write different jokes just because the family was a different race. Our show was there to portray the human nature of the problems they faced and what was going on with the family. The elements that held the family together—white, black, Chinese—didn’t make any difference. They all had the same purpose and family. 

The interesting thing about Good Times was that the actors had different opinions on things than the writers did. For example, we did an episode where the young boy found a wallet in the street, and he had to deal with the repercussions of trying to return it. The cast came to us and said, “You don’t understand. He would never have returned it.” That was very interesting us.

After this show, racial barriers did get broken down. There was a show where a black sheriff from the city started working in a redneck town and caused humorous situations as they all worked together. Then there was The Jeffersons, where the neighbors were an interracial couple. Sure, they weren’t the main characters, but they were still a significant part of the show. And obviously since then, racial boundaries have been broken even more.

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