‘Good Times’ showrunner responds to intense reactions to animated reboot

Since the trailer's release in March and the episodes' release on Netflix this month, audiences have continued to find issues with the characters' portrayals.

Two weeks have passed since Netflix released the animated “Good Times” reboot, and its showrunner is weighing in on the audience reaction.

Netflix's Good Times, theGrio.com
Voicing the “Good Times” characters are (from left) Jay Pharoah as Junior, Marsai Martin as Grey, Yvette Nicole Brown as Beverly, Gerald Anthony ‘Slink’ Johnson as Dalvin and JB Smoove as Reggie. (Courtesy of Netflix)

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, showrunner Ranada Shepard said she understood the uproar and intense feedback from viewers who watched episodes of the reboot.

“There was no framing that the audience had, it was just: Watch this and form an opinion. And, they watched, and they formed an opinion,” Shepard told the outlet.

Before the episodes were released, the discourse quickly flooded online after Netflix dropped the first official trailer of the animation in March. Social media users were offended by the family’s portrayal in the new show, saying it strays far from the original 1974 “Good Times” sitcom. Instead of mirroring the morals and values of a working-class Black family, viewers claimed, the new series does the opposite with its incorporation of negative stereotypes. 

Shepard empathized with the shocking reactions from original “Good Times” fans but pointed out that the reboot was meant to be different from the early sitcom.

She told The Hollywood Reporter she understands “if this is jolting. Because what you needed was someone to tell everyone, ‘I know you’re used to the sweet sitcom, but this is not only a reimagination, it’s in a different genre that requires it to be loud and offensive with hard jokes and inappropriate.’ Without that type of framing, you can never blame the audience, and I never would.”

Before Shepard’s comments, “Good Times” original cast members gave their thoughts about the animation in advance of its release. John Amos, who played patriarch James Evans, touched on the challenges of newer projects living up to their predecessors. BernNadette Stanis, who played daughter Thelma Evans, said she didn’t expect the show to be the way it was.

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The showrunner said she understands that the reboot won’t land for all viewers, especially those who may not be familiar with this specific TV genre. 

“Look, there’s some people who it’s not going to be for,” Shepard said. “But I ask those people, ‘Do you watch adult animation?’ Because I know a lot of people don’t watch adult animation, so if that’s not your genre, this genre is going to be difficult for you. But are they well-written stories that stand in social commentary, and each one has a message? Absolutely.”

Despite the controversy, Shepard stands behind the reboot and urges audiences to give it a chance by watching all 10 episodes.