Good Times v. Archie Bunker

(Leah Haynes)

 

Callie and I watched this week’s episodes together, and as we watched the Good Times episode “Michael’s Decision,” I was laughing out loud at the ridiculousness and awkwardness of Cindy’s parents, and Callie noted that their overeager attempts at being “cool” and “progressive” reminded her of Michael Scott in The Office. This made me think of Archie Bunker–whom we’ve also compared and contrasted to Michael Scott. We’ve mentioned that The Office does a better job satirizing Michael’s racial insensitivity and downright social ignorance (and tactlessness) than All in the Family does with Archie, but Callie and I noted that Good Times‘s depiction of prejudiced behavior really came off better than AITF.

Some reasons for this:

1)There’s more black representation in Good Times, and therefore the silliness of Cindy’s parents’ behavior is thrown into sharper relief.

2) The audience has an established relationship with the black characters in Good Times, and therefore they are the lovable ones.

3) There is a direct result of the parents’ insensitive/cliche behavior–Michael decides not to live with Cindy–and therefore we see an open-and-closed case of why this type of behavior by white people is a problem. Archie’s behavior continues as part of the joke of the show, and while he gets small “punishments” for his behavior, he is allowed to continue on in much an unchanged manner.

 

The Good Times episode does, however, rely on stereotypes for the laugh in this episode. Is this episode really doing a better job at working through these issues?

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