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Equal TimeTelevision and the Civil Rights Movement$
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Aniko Bodroghkozy

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036682

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036682.001.0001

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Prime Time, Good Times

Prime Time, Good Times

Chapter:
(p.203) Chapter 8 Prime Time, Good Times
Source:
Equal Time
Author(s):

Aniko Bodroghkozy

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252036682.003.0009

This chapter explores how the CBS family sitcom Good Times turned into an important site of contestation and struggle over questions of “blackness,” the black family, “authenticity,” and black-versus-white control in the immediate aftermath of the civil rights movement. Good Times “answered” the vehement criticisms about Julia. Whereas Julia gave viewers a simulacral “Super Negro” to inspire blacks and comfort whites, Good Times presented a more “realistic” image of the challenges, struggles, and poverty that many blacks actually encountered in their daily lives. In addition, the CBS comedy pointedly addressed hot-button issues such as school busing, teen pregnancy, and street gangs. This chapter assesses the cultural legacy of Good Times's racial imagery and asks whether the show was a victory for African Americans in the struggle for “positive images.” It concludes with a discussion of the sitcom's significance for post–civil rights race politics and argues that it was ultimately both a success and a failure.

Keywords:   family sitcom, Good Times, blackness, black family, civil rights movement, poverty, CBS, school busing, African Americans, race politics

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