Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.
TV URBAN LEGEND: Good Times was not originally a spin-off of Maude.
The television sitcom, Good Times, which initially starred Esther Rolle and John Amos as black parents raising their three children in a housing project in Chicago (with their oldest child being played by Jimmie Walker, who became famous for the role), is well known to be a spin-off of the TV series, Maude, where Esther Rolle’s character, Florida Evans, was the housekeeper for Bea Arthur’s Maude.
Maude, of course, was itself a spin-off of All in The Family (all three shows were produced by Norman Lear).
However, as originally conceived by show co-creators Eric Monte and Michael Evans (the show was based on Eric Monte’s memories of growing up in the infamous Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago), the show was not tied to any other show.
Then it was determined that the show would be built around Florida Evans and her husband James and their kids (presumably as that would give the show a better chance of success than if it starred original characters).
To do so, though, suddenly Florida, instead of living in Tuckahoe, New York, where she was the housekeeper for Maude, they lived in Chicago (and appeared to have been living there for quite some time). In addition, Florida’s husband on Maude was a firefighter named Henry. Now he is an out of work laborer named James. On top of that, Maude is never actually mentioned on the show.
So it’s a wonder if it really counts as a spin-off at all.
One of the amusing side effects of changing the main characters into established characters was that the characters all had to have their last names changed to fit Florida’s last name on Maude, which was Evans. As a result, then, the youngest of Florida’s three kids became Michael Evans, which happens to be the name of one of the creators of the show!
So while the show sure appeared like it was created as a spin-off of Maude based on the life of Mike Evans, neither of those are the case.
The legend is…
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