Premiering on CBS in 1974, Good Times
was a spin-off of Maude
. The series centered around Maude's black housekeeper Florida Evans, her husband James, and children J.J., Thelma, and Michael. The Evans also had a next door neighbor Wilona Woods who was also a main character on the show. The family lived in a housing project in southern Chicago and were always struggling to survive. Another main character was Mr. Bookman, the Evans' landlord.
At the beginning of 1976-1977 season John Amos, who played James, left the series. The writers decided to kill off James in a car accident. This left Florida to raise her three children by herself. A year later Esther Rolle, who played Florida, left the series because she was unhappy with the direction the show was taking, especially with J.J's character.
With Florida gone, Wilona and J.J. became the central characters, along with Bookman and the other children. A young Janet Jackson joined the cast as Penny, a victim of abuse who was adopted by Wilona. Esther Rolle returned for the final season of the show in 1979.