52 min

117: Ain’t We Lucky We Got Thelma from ‘Good Times’… Actress Bern Nadette Stanis I SEE U with Eddie Robinson

    • Society & Culture

In 1974, CBS premiered Good Times, a TV sitcom that would showcase the first Black mother and Black father on screen – two parents, trying to make ends meet, while raising three children. Set in a public housing project in the south side of Chicago, Good Times elevated stories of struggle – the joy, the pain and the dreams of a determined Evans family during the economically turbulent 1970s. With legendary producer Norman Lear at the helm, the program would be one of three of the top ten rated shows with Black casts on American TV at that time – the other two gems were Sanford & Son and The Jeffersons.But there were many, including actors on these shows, who believed that producers equated the black experience with poverty and that too often writers pushed negative stereotypes and tropes, especially after the progress in civil rights of the previous decade. Times also weren’t all that good for the Black creators of Good Times, Eric Monte and Mike Evans – both men struggled with Lear to receive recognition for their work.
In the last 50 years, we’ve seen a (mostly) upward trajectory of positive Black representation in film and television – from the likes of The Cosby Show to Abbott Elementary or HBO’s Insecure. Despite this advancement, negative stereotypes persist – and a new animated reboot of Good Times on Netflix is igniting fresh criticism, with many viewers saying the show promotes an image of Blacks as criminal, prone to violence, uneducated and hypersexualized. Would a reboot of a classic sitcom with an all-white cast like The Brady Bunch or Leave It to Beaver receive the same kind of treatment today?Join us as I SEE U host Eddie Robinson chats with the actor who portrayed the first Black teen on network television – Bern Nadette Stanis, who starred as Thelma, the daughter of the Evans family in Good Times. Stanis shares her thoughts on the adult reboot and how she felt misled after portraying one of the characters in the modern series. Plus, Variety TV critic, Aramide Tinubu, provides her perspective on why Hollywood still refuses to let go of outdated and harmful depictions of American Black life.

In 1974, CBS premiered Good Times, a TV sitcom that would showcase the first Black mother and Black father on screen – two parents, trying to make ends meet, while raising three children. Set in a public housing project in the south side of Chicago, Good Times elevated stories of struggle – the joy, the pain and the dreams of a determined Evans family during the economically turbulent 1970s. With legendary producer Norman Lear at the helm, the program would be one of three of the top ten rated shows with Black casts on American TV at that time – the other two gems were Sanford & Son and The Jeffersons.But there were many, including actors on these shows, who believed that producers equated the black experience with poverty and that too often writers pushed negative stereotypes and tropes, especially after the progress in civil rights of the previous decade. Times also weren’t all that good for the Black creators of Good Times, Eric Monte and Mike Evans – both men struggled with Lear to receive recognition for their work.
In the last 50 years, we’ve seen a (mostly) upward trajectory of positive Black representation in film and television – from the likes of The Cosby Show to Abbott Elementary or HBO’s Insecure. Despite this advancement, negative stereotypes persist – and a new animated reboot of Good Times on Netflix is igniting fresh criticism, with many viewers saying the show promotes an image of Blacks as criminal, prone to violence, uneducated and hypersexualized. Would a reboot of a classic sitcom with an all-white cast like The Brady Bunch or Leave It to Beaver receive the same kind of treatment today?Join us as I SEE U host Eddie Robinson chats with the actor who portrayed the first Black teen on network television – Bern Nadette Stanis, who starred as Thelma, the daughter of the Evans family in Good Times. Stanis shares her thoughts on the adult reboot and how she felt misled after portraying one of the characters in the modern series. Plus, Variety TV critic, Aramide Tinubu, provides her perspective on why Hollywood still refuses to let go of outdated and harmful depictions of American Black life.

52 min

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