Apr 18, 2024 - Culture

Netflix's "Good Times" reboot misses the mark for some

Still of animated show with family squeezed onto a couch in front of window with orange curtains.

Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Netflix's animated reboot of the classic TV show "Good Times" is getting pushback for its negative tropes about Chicago and Black families.

Why it matters: The original sitcom, which turns 50 this year, has long been lauded for its nuanced portrayal of a loving family living in the now-demolished Cabrini-Green housing projects and struggling to get ahead. But detractors say the animated version misses the mark.

Catch up quick: The reboot debuted on Netflix last Friday, and viewers including the NAACP and the original series' stars have weighed in.

  • The NAACP says viewers reached out to the civil rights organization about negative stereotypes portrayed in the show when the reboot's trailer was released late last month.
  • They brought the complaints to the attention of the show's producers, who include NBA star Steph Curry and "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane. The NAACP says it was told the show is meant to "push the envelope."

What they're saying:​​ "What is clear today … is the choice made by Netflix to market the show based on an interpretation of Black life as an 'otherized' experience, replete with abhorrent beliefs and behaviors," the NAACP's Kyle Bowser writes in the Hollywood Reporter.

  • "When Martin Luther King Drive pops up, it's shown as run-down and empty — a disheartening joke as it's a street we still live on, raise our kids on and celebrate on. On top of that, the multiple shootouts throughout the series are difficult to stomach," Chicago author and journalist Arionne Nettles writes in the Sun-Times.

The other side: The show's creators, stars and some critics argue there's some good with the bad.

  • "This show is edgier and more irreverent than the 'Good Times' of our childhood, but it's still a show about family, fighting the system and working to make things better despite where you start out in the world," Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays mother and wife Beverly Evans, wrote on X.

Reality check: The original sitcom was not without its detractors, some of whom said JJ "Dyyyyyynoomite" Evans was too much of a clown. John Amos, who played the family patriarch, said he was fired after complaining the show had too few Black writers.

The bottom line: Watch the reboot for yourself to see whether it's animation pushing the envelope and speaking about systemic problems, or shallow humor that doesn't pay enough respect to the original. All episodes are on Netflix now.

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