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Jeffersons

By Bret Fetzer

Long before Bill Cosby started wearing his friendly sweaters, urban middle-class African Americans burst onto television in the form of Louise (better known as "Weezy") and George Jefferson, portrayed by Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley. Spun off from All in the Family, The Jeffersons ran from 1975 to 1985, and it's easy to see what made the show so popular--Sanford and Hemsley were a knockout comic duo, surrounded by a skilled supporting cast that included the interracial couple Helen and Tom Willis (Roxie Roker and Franklin Cover), British expatriate Harry Bentley (Paul Benedict), as well as George's cantankerous mother Olivia (Zara Cully) and their snappy, cynical maid Florence (Marla Gibbs).

Weezy and George...

Isabel Sanford passed away on July 9, 2004 at age 86.

Courtesy CBS

Set in a high-rise apartment building in the heart of New York City, the show spun around George, a classic character portrait of vanity, arrogance, and petty prejudice. Balanced by the more level-headed but just as strong-willed Weezy, George's self-serving abrasiveness struck comic gold, particularly in the second season, when the show's style had been set but was still fresh. Episodes tackled subjects trivial (George and Tom wear the same tacky dinner jacket to a party) and trenchant (a country club invites George to join, but only so that a newspaper reporter will think the club is open to minorities).

The black and white mix of the cast allowed for a sharply satirical take on race relations, which managed to have a genuine sense of hope while never glossing over the complexity of racial tension--and was consistently funny. In fact, it's striking how well the show's humor holds up; The Jeffersons turned a series of half-hour farces into a sly examination of marriage, race, class, and the battle of the sexes; it's sad that so few contemporary sitcoms have this kind of intelligence, courage, and sheer talent.

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Season One, Season Two, Season Three, Season Four

 

Share Your Memories In Our Forums!

Check out our Jeffersons forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other Jeffersons viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

Your Memories Shared!

The Jeffersonís were my favorite TV show. I donít have a specific favorite episode for I loved so many of them, but I guess the Martin Luther King episode was really one I favored more than others because it focused on so much of the situation black people dealt with in the 60's and it was very powerful. Watching George Lionel and Louise listen to Martinís words in the end put tears in my eyes. The Jeffersonís were hilarious but they dealt with many human issues that made for some funny but moving episodes like Florenceís thoughts of suicide, Georgeís cousin dusty needing a kidney transplant, the KKK episode, Jessica getting her hands on a gun, Lionel and jenny's divorce I cant think of any sitcom that dealt with so many human issues like the Jeffersonís did. Thatís what made this show so special to me and Iíve taped as many episodes from nick at night as I could. I loved most of the 1st season episodes most of all because they have the immortal Zara Cully.

--sonicmets

Note: This is just a random sample of the Jeffersons messages in our TV forums! Click here to see what others have said or to post your own comments!

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: January 18, 1975 - July 23, 1985

Cast: Sherman Hemsley, Isabel Sanford, Marla Gibbs, Mike Evans

Network: CBS

Genre: Sitcom

Theme songMoving On Up - Jeff Barry and Ja'net DuBois

Image courtesy of CBS


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Use of this site is subject to our Terms of Service.
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