It’s remarkable that seven shows followed All in the Family and belong to its universe. What is the chronological order of these Norman Lear shows?
Many great shows and movies turn 50 years old in 2021, and All in the Family is one of the most iconic. Produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, the working-class sitcom was set in Queens, New York and was based on a British sitcom called Till Death Do Us Part. All in the Family is famous for its prejudiced patriarch, Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor). Archie was used as a device for commentary on important social issues in the 1970s.
The Bunkers and their neighbors, the Jeffersons, developed relationships with other characters, many of whom got spin-offs of their own. With the series’ cultural relevance and fandom, it’s no surprise All in the Family, The Jeffersons, and Good Times were also revived for a live performance special in 2019. Looking back on decades past, it’s remarkable how seven shows followed All in the Family and belong to its universe.
All In The Family (1971-1979)
All in the Family primarily takes place at the Bunker residence on 704 Hauser Street. Archie and Edith Bunker (Jean Stapleton) share their home with their daughter, Gloria (Sally Struthers), and her husband, Mike Stivic (Rob Reiner). Archie and Mike are always butting heads since Archie is politically conservative and Mike is usually portrayed as being liberal.
Another sparring partner for Archie is neighbor George Jefferson, and the two criticize one another’s race. Archie’s bigotry was never meant to be accepted; rather, the entire sitcom was meant to “throw a humorous spotlight” on human “frailties, prejudices, and concerns,” as a disclaimer before the first episode said.
Maude Findlay (Bea Arthur) first appears as Edith Bunker’s cousin in a 1971 All in the Family episode called “Cousin Maude’s Visit.” Maude arrives at the Bunker home to help out when the family gets hit with the flu. Maude becomes yet another person for Archie to disagree with politically.
After a 1972 backdoor pilot on All in the Family, Maude got a show of her own. The successful series ran for six seasons and, like its predecessor, dealt with some serious issues during its day.
Good Times (1974-1979)
A sitcom world must be a good one for a spin-off to spawn another spin-off! That’s exactly what happened with Good Times. Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) was Maude Findlay’s maid in Tuckahoe, New York, and Good Times moved on to develop Florida’s life with her family in Chicago. They live in a public housing project and struggle to get by at times.
While Florida’s husband on Maude was a firefighter named Henry (John Amos), her husband on Good Times was James, a hard worker often taking on multiple jobs to support the family. Amos continued in the role of James until the character’s death. Florida and James have three children: J.J., Michael, and Thelma. Another interesting connection of the sitcom universe is that Mike Evans (who played Lionel Jefferson on All in the Family and The Jeffersons) created Good Times with Eric Monte.
The Jeffersons (1975-1985)
The Jeffersons is the next spin-off to come directly from All in the Family. In fact, the parent show would have been completely different without the Jefferson family in the neighborhood. Lionel is the first Jefferson to be seen on All in the Family, but his parents become an important part of the show, too.
Although Archie and George (Sherman Hemsley) argue a lot, Louise Jefferson (Isabel Sanford) is a dear friend to Edith Bunker, and it’s hard for the two to say goodbye when the Jeffersons move away. George owns a profitable dry-cleaning chain, so he and the family move to a nice apartment on the Upper East Side of New York City in a backdoor pilot on All in the Family. On their own show, the Jeffersons interact with new friends and neighbors while inhabiting a new lifestyle.
Checking In (1981)
While many of the shows connected to All in the Family did extraordinarily well, Checking In only lasted for four episodes. The show was a spin-off of The Jeffersons.
As with Maude and Good Times, the main character of the new series was a maid on her previous series. Florence Johnston (Marla Gibbs) worked for the Jefferson family on their show, but Checking In focused on her life as the executive housekeeper of the St. Frederick Hotel in New York City. Florence Johnson returned to The Jeffersons after Checking In ended.
Archie Bunker’s Place (1979-1983)
All in the Family took a leaf out of its own book and spawned yet another sitcom after the series ended. Archie Bunker’s Place started out with both Archie and Edith, but Jean Stapleton left the show and was killed off shortly after the series began.
Even before All in the Family ended, Stapleton expressed a desire to distance herself from the role of Edith. Edith’s death in the context of the spin-off made Archie a widow, and though he missed Edith terribly, he continued on with his pub and focused on taking care of Edith’s young relative, Stephanie Mills (Danielle Brisebois). Archie Bunker’s Place extended Archie’s role to over twelve years on television.
Sally Struthers was next to get her own show as Gloria Bunker Stivic, Archie and Edith’s daughter. She reprised her role several times on Archie Bunker’s Place and then took center stage on Gloria, the last series to focus on a member of the Bunker family.
The series began after a backdoor pilot on Archie Bunker’s Place called “Gloria: The First Day.” Gloria and Mike are no longer together, so Gloria and her son, Joey, leave California and go home to New York. Gloria works as the assistant to two veterinarians.
704 Hauser (1994)
The final spin-off of this world of Norman Lear shows is 704 Hauser. The location is the only concrete link from All in the Family to the series, but it’s a strong one despite the fact that 704 Hauser was only on the air for five episodes.
The Cumberbatches are a Black family moving into the Bunkers’ old house in Queens. John Amos (who played James Evans on Good Times) is the father, Ernie Cumberbatch. In a reversal of All in the Family, Ernie is liberal while his son is quite conservative.
The series gave John Amos and Norman Lear another chance to work together after tensions on set led Amos to leave Good Times. The actor said in 1994, “At Good Times, I thought we should’ve had more Black writers on staff… I felt I should’ve been more involved in the development of scripts. But we don’t have those fights on 704 Hauser. Lear is more willing to listen nowadays. He’s mellowed. We’ve both mellowed. We actually enjoy working together.” Lear called the 704 Hauser characters “responsible” and explained they knew what they were talking about in arguments.
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