Hello Meltingpot Readers,
I am very sad to report that the man who will always be remembered as George Jefferson, aka Sherman Hemsely, died yesterday. He was only 74 years old. I just found out that Hemsely was a Philadelphia native, so the Philadelphia Inquirer posted a great article covering his childhood in South Philly, his early career and rise to fame.
I don’t know about you, but The Jefferesons was one of my favorite shows to watch as a child. And as I reflect on it now, I am amazed at just how good it was. Even the theme song was the bomb. (Yeah, we’re movin’ on up…)
I mean here was a 1970s sitcom that revolved around a proud Black businessman who was openly hostile to White people, was rude to the help and was vocal about his beliefs that Black was always better. And he was damn funny. Sidekicks on the show included a bumbling white British neighbor, an interracial couple and a sassy maid. Can you imagine if somebody pitched that concept in Hollywood today? Nobody would touch it. Yet, twenty years ago, The Jeffersons was one of the most popular shows in prime time. Why is that? Why have we regressed in our ability to push the envelope, feature multiracial casts and perhaps explore some newsworthy issues with our television programing? Pardon my pom poms but, Come on People! Can’t we do better?
What happened in the 90s that made television so reductive and stupid? If you have the answer, please speak up. I want to know.
You know I’m listening. And here’s something for you to listen to while you ponder the problem. Enjoy.