Let Me Get Started on "Good Times"

By popular demand of @lilydiamond and @angusisley, a thumbnail list of life lessons I picked up from this groundbreaking Norman Lear situation dramedy of the 1970s (but I watched it after school in the 80s, between What's Happenin'! and Sanford & Son)
  1. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a television actor as compelling or with as much gravitas as Esther Rolle. Period, the end.
  2. I learned as much about levity and commedia dell'arte from watching JJ and Thelma clown around, as I could from eleventy-two seasons of Shakespeare in the Park.
  3. I was Michael, Michael was me. And that's good, because it meant I wasn't Penny.
  4. And I don't mean that in a gender-normative, sexist way. I mean my mother, for whatever faults she may have had, never burned me with an iron.
  5. James's death was the first time I saw a family deal with profound loss and grief. It's still the purest emotion I can recall seeing on television.
  6. When I found out relatively recently that he was killed off and written out of the show because he was a pain in the ass to work with, it became a new lesson I use in my erstwhile acting career.
  7. Be suspicious of every department store's dressing room mirrors... Wilona's ethics were tested, but that was a different time.
  8. Art can always be a way out of your current situation. JJ painted to get out of the ghetto. I act and write to stay out of the south/suburbs.
  9. Supers are shifty, avoid them like the plague and bond with your neighbors by calling them "buffalo butt."
  10. Poor or rich, you are only as good as the community you build, no matter the one you're born into.
  11. A theme song can be a rallying cry.