Black-ish Remembers the Good Times in a Season Finale Tribute (PHOTOS)

Ingela Ratledge
Black-ish

Ron Tom/ABC

The Johnsons Take a Trip to the '70s

There’s only one way to describe the Season 2 finale of black-ish: dy-no-mite! The hit show honors the classic 1974–79 sitcom Good Times, transporting the L.A.-based Johnson clan back in time to inner-city Chicago via a trippy dream sequence. “Forty years ago, the Evans family was the black family on TV,” black-ish creator Kenya Barris says. “Creating this parallel was something I always wanted to do.”

Dre (Anthony Anderson) and the rest of the family will don the requisite polyester finery to channel iconic Good Times characters, as real plot points from the vault dovetail with current storylines, like the unplanned pregnancy of Dre’s wife, Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross), and her Windy City alter ego, Thelma Evans. To get into a ’70s state of mind, the cast members—many of whom hadn’t been born during Good Times’ original run—binged episodes on YouTube. “I remembered it being funny,” says Ross, who grew up watching the reruns. “But I was surprised to see how much it pulled on heartstrings and dealt with heavy issues, which is something that our show does too.” Hey, everything old is new again.

Black-ish, Season finale Wednesday, May 18, 9:30/8:30c, ABC

Black-ish, LAURENCE FISHBURNE, MILES BROWN, JENIFER LEWIS, MARCUS SCRIBNER, ANTHONY ANDERSON, YARA SHAHIDI, TRACEE ELLIS ROSS, DEON COLE, MARSAI MARTIN

Ron Tom/ABC

(Clockwise from top left: Jenifer Lewis, Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Deon Cole, Marsai Martin, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown and Laurence Fishburne) “It was surreal and wonderful to walk in and see everyone all dressed up,” Ross says. Michelle R. Cole, black-ish’s costume designer, scoured Los Angeles in search of all the vintage ensembles—each character sports three to four looks in the episode—to purchase or rent. “Oh God, we had racks and racks of clothes,” Cole says. “And there were a lot of fittings. The sizing was just completely different back then.”

Black-ish, ANTHONY ANDERSON, TRACEE ELLIS ROSS

Ron Tom/ABC

With Bow (Ross) expecting, modern-day Dre (Anderson) is sweating over the price tag of another child, and when he dozes off, the fantasy sequence is triggered. “It’s a stress dream. Financially, Dre sees himself dealing with some of the same burdens as the family on Good Times,” says Barris, who’s currently writing a big-screen adaptation of the classic comedy. “A lot of the issues people faced back then are the same today.”

Black-ish, JENIFER LEWIS

Ron Tom/ABC

To make the Good Times scenes authentic, a laugh track was added and footage was shot in multicam instead of black-ish’s usual single-camera style. “It took a couple of runs to find our rhythm,” Ross says. “We had to remember to talk a bit louder and turn our bodies outward.” Here, Johnson matriarch Ruby (Lewis) channels Times mama Florida (Esther Rolle).

Black-ish, MARCUS SCRIBNER

Ron Tom/ABC

Jimmie Walker would be proud! Although all of the characters are dressed in vibrant getups—“The set was beige, so we wanted the actors to pop,” Cole explains—the costumes worn by Scribner (Junior) were the most outlandish. “Marcus is a trouper,” Cole says. “He was laughing during the fittings. I could see his mind twirling and thinking about how to play J.J.”

Black-ish, ANTHONY ANDERSON, DEON COLE

Ron Tom/ABC

Dre doubles as Keith, Thelma’s aspiring pro football player baby daddy, while Cole’s Charlie—Dre’s present-day incompetent coworker—is reimagined as bumbling super Bookman. “He was the same sort of comic relief on Good Times as Charlie is on our show,” Barris says.

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