was a 70s urban sitcom about Roger "Raj" Thomas, a lower middle class African American teenager growing up in Los Angeles.
In addition to Roger Thomas, regular characters included Roger's sidekicks Dwayne Nelson and Freddie "Rerun" Stubbs, Roger's divorced mother Mabel "Mama" Thomas, his bratty little sister Dee, and Shirley Wilson, a wisecracking waitress at a burger joint called Rob's Place.
Semi-regular characters included Rob, owner of Rob's Place and Bill Thomas, father of Roger and Dee. In the third season, Detective Earl Barnett, Sr. and his 10 year old son Earl Barnett, Jr. joined the semi-regular cast as Roger's neighbors.
The first and second seasons saw Raj scheming to earn money, attempting to impress the fair sex, and coping with his mother and his sister. The third and final season saw Raj enjoying college life and sharing an apartment with his pal Rerun. Shirley the waitress moved into the Thomas house in the third season and Mabel King "Mama" was written out of the show after a real life behind-the-scenes dispute about the show's concept.
The show premiered on ABC August 5, 1976 and aired its last episode on April 28, 1979. Seventies boob tube triumvirate Saul Turteltaub, Bernie Orenstein, Bud Yorkin produced, wrote, and directed many episodes. The bouncy instrumental theme was written by music great Henry Mancini. The series returned in syndication (1985-1988) as What's Happening Now!!
was a good-natured show about a young African American male on the road to adulthood. Though often compared to other 70s urban sitcoms like Good Times
and The Jeffersons, What's Happening!!
had little of the borderline bigotry and acidic social commentary that marred those shows. What's Happening!!
can be seen in reruns and is available complete on DVD. Photos and other souvenirs may be found at ebay, bookstores, and entertainment shops.
Photo above: Haywood Nelson as Dwayne Nelson, Fred Berry as Freddie "Rerun" Stubbs, and Ernest Thomas as Roger "Raj" Thomas.
5.5/10 (2 Votes cast)