All In The Family and The Jeffersons

All In The Family (1971-1979)
The Jeffersons (1975-1985)
Type: Spin Off
Group: 1

    The second hugely successful spin off of the hugely successful All In The Family was The Jeffersons (the first being Maude). The Jeffersons started on All In The Family with the character of Lionel Jefferson. He was a black friend of liberal Michael Stivic and was used as a foil for Archie Bunker's biggot. He was friendly to Archie and at the exact same time mocked his biggotry without Archie even being aware of it.

   Soon Lionel, his mom, his dad, and his uncle moved next door to Archie, much to Archie's chagrin.

   Geroge Jefferson, the father, was close to being a black version of Archie Bunker. He was hard headed, loud mouthed and had his own racial prejudices. In the first episode where the entire Jefferson family was introduced, George would not come to eat dinner with the Bunkers due to his prejudices. As a matter of fact, George Jefferson was not even seen and was only talked about on the show until 1973.

   George was a business man starting his own chain of dry cleaning store. In 1975, George and his family moved into their own spin off series. George's business had become successful enough that, in the words of their theme song, they moved on up to the East Side to a deluxe apartment in the sky.

   Like All In The Family, the show played alot off of racial and social issues but without quite as harsh an edge as All In The Family. Not that it was a weaker show. I just don't think I saw anything on The Jefferson's that made me wince. All In The Family had about a four wince per episode minimum in its prime. The Jeffersons started the show with several sources of tension to play off of. Prejudiced George had to deal with his in-laws and upstairs neighbors the Willises, a bi-racial couple. In the early episodes George was also always trying to meet and ingratiate himself to the rich owner of the apartment building H.L. Whittendale so that he could improve his dry cleaning business. Usually George would fall all over himself trying to make a good impression only to have things blow up on him. Either Whittendale wouldn't show up to whatever event George had planned or he would and things would go very badly. Often with Whittendale or with others, George would bend over backwards trying to accomplish what he was after until the person he was sucking up to would insult his race, his family or the like at which point George would inevetibly get some spine, show his true colors and stand up for what was right.

   Other important friction inducing characters were Lionel's half white wife Jenny who George would make "zebra" sorts of jokes about, George's difficult mother who often butted head with George's wife Louise and their smart mouthed maid Florence who constantly exchanged insults with George. There was also their Brittish neighbor Mr. Bently, Ralph the doorman always looking for a tip and Charlie who owned a bar in the bullding.

   Much as All In The Family eventually lost its edge and changed into Archie Bunker's Place, The Jeffersons also eventually eased into a more by the books wacky sitcom. When you reach the point where you're doing imaginary episodes and "Mission Impossible" spoofs, you are on the decline. But overall it was a strong series with an amazing ten year run.

Other All In The Family Crossover Links
All In The Family and Archie Bunker's Place
All In The Family and Gloria
All In The Family and Maude
All In The Family and 704 Hauser Street

Other Jeffersons Crossover Links
The Jeffersons and Checking In
The Jeffersons and E/R
The Jeffersons and The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air

Links To All In The Family Web Sites
Archie Bunker's Fansite

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