‘Good Times’ Original Cast Reacts to Animated Reboot Trailer: “I Thought It Was Going to Be Different”

Stars of the original Good Times are weighing in after the trailer for Netflix’s forthcoming animated reboot led some fans to question whether the new project will indeed be “dynomite.”

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year after premiering in February 1974, Good Times focused on the Chicago-based Evans family, with the Norman Lear-produced series running for six seasons and earning praise for its realistic portrayal of a working-class Black family. After the first promo debuted last week for Netflix’s animated exploration of the Evans family’s current generation, plenty of social media users expressed surprise that the new series — which appears to double down on stereotypes with such elements as a drug-dealing infant — didn’t highlight the positive themes from the initial show.

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The Hollywood Reporter spoke to original Good Times castmembers John Amos, who portrayed patriarch James Evans on the first three seasons, and BernNadette Stanis — known for playing Thelma, middle child to James and Florida Evans (Esther Rolle), throughout the series — about their reactions to the Netflix trailer. Both made it clear that they were reserving full judgment until they are able to watch the show.

“I really can’t form an opinion, as I’ve not seen any of the episodes yet,” Amos says. He goes on to explain that the high quality of the 1970s series makes it challenging for newer projects that aspire to be compared to it. “Norman — and the entire cast and company — set the bar pretty high. They’ll have a hard time reaching that level of entertainment [and] education. I wish them the best. I see people aspiring to that, but I don’t see anybody reaching that goal, especially in an animated version.”

Stanis, who stars in the forthcoming BET+ series The Family Business: New Orleans, notes that she had yet to watch the animated trailer for Good Times and heard a mixture of responses to it. The actress looks forward to watching the revival’s episodes but acknowledges that some fans of the ’70s series would probably have assumed that the original show’s cast is front and center for the animated version, given that it uses the same name.

“Probably a lot of people don’t know how Hollywood works,” Stanis says. “A lot of times, you use a certain name to open up the door for a new show. That could be what it is. But I’m sure a lot of people will be a little confused at first because they have to think that it’s us. They think, ‘Oh, my God! That’s got to be Thelma, J.J. [Jimmie Walker] and Michael [Ralph Carter].’ And then you come in there, and you don’t see anything like that.”

Stanis explains that the Netflix series’ team previously reached out to her reps to have her voice a small part on the show, which she did. She said that Walker also voices a minor character.

“I did a little voice for them, but I did not know it was going to be the way it is. I thought it was going to be different,” Stanis says. As for the roles voiced by herself and Walker, she continues, “It’s just a little here and there. But I think that they did that because they knew what their show was going to be like. So I guess they figured, if you put us in there, it wouldn’t look so bad or whatever.”

Netflix’s animated Good Times counts the late Lear, Stephen Curry and Seth MacFarlane as executive producers, with Ranada Shepard serving as showrunner. Launching April 12, the show features a voice cast that includes J.B. Smoove, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jay Pharoah, Marsai Martin and Gerald “Slink” Johnson.

In a post last week on X (formerly Twitter), Brown responded to a user who questioned why the Community alum would be involved with the Good Times revival. “This show is edgier and more irreverent than the Good Times of our childhood but it’s still a show about family, fighting the system and working to make things better despite where you start out in the world,” Brown wrote. “That 100% lines up with my values.”

THR has reached out to Netflix for comment.

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