2008-09-12

Ode To Tom And Helen




The Jeffersons was the 1st TV show in history to prominently feature an IR couple. In particular an IR couple between a white man and black woman. Note The Jeffersons was a spin off of All In The Family, where the main character, Archie Bunker was the atypical bigot, and the Jeffersons were their neighbors. George Jefferson was the black version of Archie Bunker, except he was rich, and black. He was able to "Move On Up" and away from the blue collar neighborhood the Bunkers lived in. George and Tom Willis were friends on the show, but only at the expense of Tom. George often referred to Tom and Helen as the "zebra" couple, and Tom as a "honky". Tom never seemed to strike back at George, Helen always had a short or baldy joke to slam back at George. Ironically, even though he refers to Tom and Helen's kids as "zebra" children, Lionel Jefferson and Jenny Willis get married.

I always found it funny that Jenny was played by a black actress and that their son, who was rarely if ever on the show, was played by white actors. Like there were no biracial actors available, of course on most predominantly black shows, they always have biracial actors and actresses playing black, and we never bat an eye to it (Half & Half, Girlfriends, The Cosby Show, My Wife & Kids, Fresh Prince of Bel Aire). Why don't they use these biracial and pass them off as white kids in white families on TV?



Anyway I felt it important to point them out, and to also point out, that even as a child being able to see some of these episodes in first run (shut up, I know I am old, I remember the early 80s pretty well), it never occurred to me an interracial relationship was possible, as that was just some made up stuff on television to me. I also remember being shocked they let them kiss each other on the lips, nothing passionate, just pecks, but still that was shocking.

Side note, I am so late on this, but Wilona from Good Times sang the theme song to The Jeffersons, and Lionel #1 (you know, not the dark skinned one) left the Jeffersons for a season or two to be a writer for Good Times. Who would have thunk? Also note, Ja'net DuBois is proof black don't crack, that woman has barely aged since 1976. How does that work?

Another side note, Roxie Roker who played Helen Willis, is the mother of Lenny Kravitz and cousin of Al Roker.