The black sitcom has been around for quite awhile, and they are often used to show social situations and give social commentary about the way that blacks live in America. These shows have different messages, however. …
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The Jeffersons showed that poor, uneducated blacks could make a great success of themselves with some hard work and pluck, and this show, too, showed good family values. The Cosby Show was a show that did not really reference the black experience, but their family values were also excellent. Their message was that blacks can be well-educated and wealthy. This essay will examine each of these shows. The first black sitcom that will be analyzed will be Good Times. The particular episode is titled Black Jesus.The basic premise of Good Times is that it follows a struggling black family who are living in the ghetto – Michael, who is the youngest child and eventually is a militant black man, but,in the early days, he was a young boy who was very much into black power and black rights; JJ, the oldest child who was a gifted artist and a wisecracker;Thelma, the middle child, who's identity was somewhat nebulous, although she did seem to be into black rights as well, but not as much as Michael; Florida,the mother, who is very religious and had an iron will and was intelligent and kept her family in line;and James, the father, who was struggling for work and could sometimes be temperamental and dominant,but was also very loving.This episode was a typical episode – the jokes came from various aspects of what it meant to be poor and black. This was a sitcom in the 1970s, but its jokes still seem fresh and relevant and timeless today. In this episode, JJ was working to enter an art contest, and his topic was a pimp who lived in the neighborhood. Thelma didn't think that this was an appropriate thing to paint, but JJ pointed out that this pimp made a lot of money not doing much of anything, and that he was the “same dude who got shot and ran seven miles to the hospital” (Good Times). This line was good for a laugh. JJ also showed that he painted a portrait of Jesus who was black, and this Jesus was based upon “Ned the wino,” a local alcoholic who everybody knew. Michael loved the idea of a black Jesus, so he put the picture on the wall in place of the real Jesus. Florida, the Christian woman, didn't like the idea of the black Jesus, until Michael pointed out that The Bible indicated that Jesus had “hair like wool, and eyes like fire,” which means that Jesus might have really been black. At that point, Florida changed her mind about having the painting on the wall. Then, everybody in the family started to experience luck. James' bet on the horses paid off, and he went to the IRS for an audit and found that they owed him money. Thelma was asked out by somebody she liked. Winona, the neighbor, who had a disastrous date, but it turned out that the guy was rich. James decided that it was black Jesus who was bringing the family luck, so he wanted to keep it on the wall. In the end, JJ entered the black Jesus in the art contest, but lost, but the black Jesus was hung on the wall alongside the traditional Jesus. This was a typical episode of Good Times. JJ had most of the cracks, and these cracks were jokes that reflected the ghetto black experience. The crack about the pimp being the same guy who got shot and had to run 7 miles to the hospital got many laughs. Another crack came when the family debated on whether Jesus really was black, and Michael pointed out that Jesus was lost in the desert, and JJ said “that makes sense. If ever people were lost, we are it.” This shows the type of gallows humor, where people who are oppressed make light of their situation, which is often seen in black sitcoms that focus around poor blacks. Other jokes make light of the
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