40 binge-worthy TV shows: Watch them all right now because who needs sleep

16 of 40

Photo: CBS

Good Times – YouTube

Good Times is a total throwback to the Norman Lear era of television. There’s no gimmicks, stock characters or tired storylines. It’s just good ol’ fashioned storytelling about characters we care about.

Good Times is about the Evans family, a poor, black family living in the housing projects of inner-city Chicago.  Florida and James are raising their three children in a two-room apartment, trying to keep them out of trouble and off the streets.

Every episode is chock-full of poignant moments, hilarious hijinks, and a healthy helping of Jimmie Walker as JJ Evans. JJ is the oldest, wise-cracking child of the Evans clan, and provides the most comic relief in a show that could veer into the sad, if they let it. His younger sister, Thelma, is the voice of reason, and is the touchstone for all the kids. The youngest, Michael, a politically aware activist, is the vehicle through which Good Times could get topical, without seeming too preachy or topical.

As one of the only shows about working class individuals (still, to date), the show was light years ahead of its time in terms of issue TV. It was also one of the only shows airing with an exclusively African-American cast. With all this considered, it’s worth the 28 minutes you spend per episode.

Starring: Jimmie Walker, John Amos, Ester Rolle, and Janet Jackson