'The Jeffersons' First Episode: THR's 1975 Review

'The Jeffersons'

On Jan. 18, 1975, the Jeffersons (of All in the Family neighborhood fame) moved out of working-class Queens and into a Manhattan luxury high-rise, premiering on CBS. The Hollywood Reporter's original review below:

The Jeffersons, a contrived show full of forced humor where everybody yells at everyone else in a totally unrealistic way — yet I have the feeling the show will work in spite of itself.

If you look through all of the mistakes that were made in this episode such as exaggerated direction and writing people like cartoon characters, you see that somewhere there are believable people and a real situation. Hopefully someone will fix it.

Sherman Hemsley, Isabel Sanford and Mike Evans move to the East Side and we have the situation of black with new money. One of the problems with the show is that much is made of the fact that they are doing well and they don't know how to spend it. In view of today's economic situation I doubt that a majority if the audience that they are aiming for can relate to the problem of being "forced" to hire a maid or learning to shop in better stores. What this show should do, is deal in a more realistic way with upwardly mobile blacks. The humor would be much more believable.

It will also be interesting to see the public's reaction to the black woman and white man married to each other who are the neighbors of the Jeffersons. Roxie Roker plays the wife and she is terrific. The husband, played by Franklin Cover, is done in too theatrical a manner. The director should tone him down, but they are by far the best thing about The Jeffersons. In fact, I'd rather watch a series starring them any day. Maybe one day we'll have it. Don Nicholl, Bernie West and Michael Ross wrote and produced. Jack Shea directed. It was developed by Norman Lear. — Sue Cameron