The Jeffersons

The Jeffersons

“Hooray, we’re movin’ on up,
To the East Side,
To a deluxe apartment in the sky…”

Living in Queens, NY, next-door to the bigoted Archie Bunker and his dimwitted wife Edith wasn’t exactly the affluent lifestyle George and Louise (Weezie) had envisioned for themselves. But with George’s new dry-cleaning business flourishing, they were finally able to move on up to a ritzy apartment complex in the long-running sitcom, The Jeffersons.

Created by All in the Family producer Norman Lear, this spin-off series debuted in 1975, with Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford reprising their role as the title characters who finally get a chance at living the good life.

With seven dry-cleaning stores in operation, George and Weezie have relocated to a Manhattan high-rise. Their neighbors are interracial couple, Tom and Helen Wills, who George not-so-lovingly refers to as “zebras.” They have a daughter Jennie, who is the love interest of their only son, Lionel, much to George’s disapproval. Also living on the same floor is the warm-hearted Brit, Harry Bentley who works as an interpreter at the United Nations.

The Jefferson’s also employ a razor-tongued housekeeper named Florence Johnson, who points out Mr. Jefferson’s diminutive size and receding hairline at every opportunity. While she is certainly a thorn in Mr. Jefferson’s side, Louise has her own nemesis – feisty mother-in-law, Mother Jefferson who is always quick to point out her failings, real or imagined.

The Jeffersons didn’t attack the same weighty topics as its predecessor, All in the Family although it did tackle some serious subjects on occasion such as alcoholism, gang violence and divorce. There was always a hint of social consciousness to the show but it tended to focus more on comedy that controversy. Regardless, it was a winning formula that managed to keep The Jeffersons in prime time for an entire decade, usually within the top-ten. Marla Gibbs would receive five Emmy nominations for her role as Florence the maid. She briefly left the series for her own 1981 spin-off, called Checking In, but the show only lasted for four episodes and soon she was back to insulting her boss.

The Jeffersons was unexpectedly cancelled in 1985, with little fanfare or even a final episode, much to the dismay of fans and even the stars of the show, who reportedly learned of it by reading the newspaper. The show lives on perpetually in syndication, however, reaching new fans to this day. And eleven years after the cancellation of the original series, George and Louise would make a surprise appearance on television when they purchased the Banks Mansion on the final episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – proving that, if nothing else, George and Weezie still had a bit of “movin’ on up” left to do.

If you have fond memories of tuning in to The Jeffersons each week, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this classic television sitcom in our comments section below.

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