Everything You Need To Know About The Upcoming ‘Good Times’ Live Show

Jimmy Kimmel and famed television developer, Norman Lear, are bringing the classic sitcom Good Times to the stage! The successful spin-off broke the mold for representation of black families when it first premiered in the 1970s and Kimmel and Lear want to show the world why it’s still relevant. Airing this week, everything you need to know about the monumental live show. 

Good Times cast
Good Times cast 1977 | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

‘Good Times’ aired for six successful seasons

Created by Eric Monte and Mike Evans, Lear developed the television series and it premiered on CBS in 1974. The show focused on a Chicago couple, Florida (Esther Rolle) and James Evans (John Amos), as they struggled to raise their kids – JJ (Jimmie Walker), Thelma (Bern Nadette Stanis), and Michael (Ralph Carter) – in a Chicago housing project. The spin-off of Maude was the first television series to feature a two-parent African American household.

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The show had a strong start. High ratings led CBS to renew the program for the 1974–1975 lineup. It was the seventh-highest-rated program in the Nielsen ratings, with more than 25% of all American households tuning into an episode each week. Along with Sanford and Son and The Jeffersons, Good Times was among three of the top ten highest-rated programs on that focused on the lives of African-Americans.

Viewership and ratings declined over time, mainly due to Amos’ exit from the show. He left when he felt the show shifted to frivolous comedy and began centering around the Evans’ goofy older son. Amos felt the show was becoming stereotypical in the way African American families were historically portrayed: lacking intelligence. Still, the show lasted for six seasons and became a classic. The finale showed the Evans family finally relocating from their housing project.

Who is starring in the ‘Good Times’ live show?

The original Good Times cast is so legendary and loved that the cast for the live show had to be as match in talent. Casting directors scored major points when the cast was announced. Viola Davis has been tapped to star as the family matriarch, Florida Evans. With her conviction, longtime fans of the show are anticipating Davis reenacting the famous scene where she learns of her husband’s death.

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Andre Braugher will star as James Evans and Girls Trip alum Tiffany Haddish will star as the stylish and single Evans family next-door neighbor, Willona Woods. 

Playing the roles of the Evans family children, Jay Pharoah will star as the eldest sibling J.J. and fresh off the success of Netflix’s powerful miniseries When They See Us, newcomer Asante Blackk will get to show his comedy chops by playing the witty Michael Evans. Corrine Foxx, daughter of the multi-talented Jamie Foxx, will make her live stage debut playing Thelma Evans.

When will the ‘Good Times’ live show air?

The show features actors who re-stage episodes of classic sitcoms that’s taped and aired live on television in front of a studio audience. This is the second of its kind. The first special aired in May when Kimmel and Lear teamed up for a live presentation of episodes of “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons.” It drew an average of 14.29 million viewers and was nominated for three Emmys and nabbed the award for Outstanding Variety Special (Live).

This time around, All In The Family will be combined with Good Times. According to the Philadelphia ABC news affiliate station, both shows were chosen by Kimmel and Lear because of the similarities between the two families. Though one family is African American and the other is white, they focused on families navigating they navigated the quickly changing social landscape of the 1970s as it relates to race and economic opportunities. 

Marketed as a holiday special, Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Good Times’ will air on ABC on Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 8 PM EST and 7 PM CT.