He’s movin’ on up.
I’m going to have to call my Dad and tell him George Jefferson has died. He should hear it from me and not read about it. Oh wait, he doesn’t read anything. I mean, have someone at the bar tell him. Why should my Dad be so upset about George Jefferson dying? Because my Dad is the white George Jefferson. You doubt me? I’m not the first person to bring it up. When I was a kid, everyone in my neighborhood referred to my dad as George Jefferson. Judge for yourself:
George Jefferson and Weezy
Dad and Aunt Nancy
(NOTE: Nancy is doing what many people
before her have hoped to do.)
See what I mean? Dad has a lot in common with George Jefferson. For instance, he can’t stand people, just like George. He’s tight with money, just like George. He has a long-suffering wife, just like George. But, somehow, somewhere, there is something in him that is a little teeny tiny bit endearing, so people keep him around.
But I don’t think my Dad “gets” George Jefferson. I think that Dad thinks he’s great, because what does George want? Segregation. Equal but separate. Somehow, my sister and I managed to grow up thinking differently than Dad, most likely because we actually understood what the show The Jeffersons was really about. Here’s a review about the show, thanks to CommonSenseMedia.org :
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this classic ’70s/’80s sitcom — which follows an African-American couple who move to an upper-class Manhattan apartment in a primarily Caucasian neighborhood — combines strong racial stereotypes with some positive representations of African Americans and interracial relationships. George Jefferson is stubborn, mean-spirited, and bigoted, and the show uses strong words like “damn” and racial epithets like “honky.” The show is generally mild by today’s standards, but George’s inappropriate behavior and language may send iffy messages to younger viewers.
This is the kind of thing that George Jefferson would say that Dad would find hilarious:
Dr. Whitehorn: Tonight, why don’t we begin with a simple exercise? I’d like each one of you to say three things you like about your partner. Okay? George, why don’t you start?
George Jefferson: Well?
George Jefferson: Well what?
Louise Jefferson: The man said to name three things you like about me.
George Jefferson: Fine! Your mother’s died, your mother’s dead, and your mother ain’t living no more!
Or THIS gem:
George Jefferson: [about his marriage to Louise] We tied the knot forty years ago, and I been swinging from it ever since!
Or THIS, about a mixed race marriage:
George Jefferson: I don’t want no daughter-in-law who’s a zebra.
Louise Jefferson: Why not? I’m sure she won’t mind a father-in-law who’s a jackass.
*sigh* Oh the HI-larity! Dad also loved Archie Bunker. When I was pregnant with my first child, I found an “Archie Bunker’s Grandchild” doll in a thrift store and almost bought it for him, but at $35 it seemed like an expensive joke.
Seriously, there was a doll. Joey Stivic.
But it was kind of a disturbing thing to give my father.
You can’t see it here, but Joey Stivic is anatomically correct. Not that he should be proud of that, if you know what I mean. Because you can’t see it here.
He also loved the shows Sanford and Son (people also called Dad “Fred Sanford”), the Dukes of Hazzard, and his all-time favorite:
Yeah. ALF. Which I was forced to watch weekly during the entire run of this show. I’m still trying to work it out in therapy. I think we can all see a theme here – them Dukes are obviously hot outlaws, which I think Dad fashions himself as to this day. The other shows feature main characters who are sarcastic assholes with a heart, who think they don’t take no shit offa no one, but the joke’s on them.
I’m sure, in some ways, losing George Jefferson (because he lost George Jefferson, not Sherman Hemsley - who’s that?) is like losing a long-lost buddy. What he may not understand is that George Jefferson was maybe the first black guy he could really understand. And maybe, in some weird way, that was progress. So RIP, Sherman Hemsley. You made a difference.