Legendary TV producer Norman Lear passed away today at the age of 101. Known for his sitcoms that featured social commentary, Lear’s work spanned generations with his first big-time sitcom, All in the Family, being picked up by CBS in 1971 to the remake of One Day at a Time in 2017.
Many of the titles that Lear created, wrote, developed, or produced are available on popular streaming services and you can find out where to find them, below.
All in the Family (1971-1979)
Arguably Lear’s most successful sitcom, All in the Family ran for 9 seasons and 205 episodes. Based on the British sitcom Till Death Us Do Part, the American sitcom starred Carroll O’Connor as Archie Bunker, a working-class man who is very opinionated on the current issues of the time. The show was a pioneer in covering several controversial issues at the time on network television. The series won numerous awards and has the most spin-offs for a primetime television series with five directly and two of those having spin-offs of their own.
The Jeffersons (1975-1985)
The Jeffersons was the most successful and longest-running spin-off of All in the Family, which ran for 11 seasons and 253 episodes. Starring Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford as George and Louise Jefferson, the show focused on an affluent Black couple who moved from Queens to Manhattan thanks to Jefferson Cleaners, George’s dry cleaning business. George Jefferson was originally a character on All in the Family and due to Hemsley’s performance, the character gained enough popularity to spin off into a new series. The show explored controversial topics and by the time it concluded, it became the longest-running series with a primarily Black cast.
The first All in the Family spin-off, Maude starred Bea Arthur as the titular character, a cousin of Archie’s wife Edith Bunker. CBS aired the show for 6 seasons and 141 episodes and it was noted for having several episodes that only featured Maude and her husband Walker, played by Bill Macy. Like the prior two shows on this list, the series explored topical issues of the time.
Good Times (1974-1980)
Considered by some as a spin-off of Maude due to Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) appearing in both shows, Good Times ran for six seasons and 133 episodes on CBS. The show made history as the first Black two-parent sitcom thanks to its leads Rolle and John Amos, who portrayed James Amos. The Evans and their three children: James “J.J.” Evans Jr. (Jimmie Walker), Thelma (Bernnadette Stanis), and Michael (Ralph Carter), try to overcome poverty and navigate through life in Chicago.
Sanford and Son (1972 -1978)
Starring Red Fox as Fred Sanford, Sanford and Son ran on NBC for six seasons and 136 episodes. Based on the British sitcom Steptoe and Son, the series followed the cantankerous junk dealer Fred Sanford and his son Lamont (Demond Wilson). During its run, the sitcom was a ratings juggernaut with top 10 Nielsen finishes in five of its six seasons. Featured on many Best TV Shows lists, Sanford and Son is noted for its edginess of the time.
Diff’rent Strokes (1978 – 1986)
For eight seasons and 189 episodes, the world asked “What you talkin’ about Willis?” thanks to the NBC and ABC hit sitcom Diff’rent Strokes. Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges starred as Arnold and Willis Jackson, two young boys from Harlem who were adopted by a wealthy family, widower Phillip Drumond (Conrad Bain) and his daughter, Kimberly (Dana Plato). The series is remembered for its “very special episodes,” which explored controversial and serious topics and turned Coleman, Bridges, and Plato into young stars. However, behind the scenes, the series was noted for having a lot of fallout that is explored in depth in a documentary that is available on Peacock.
Stream on Tubi.
One Day at a Time (1975-1984; 2017-2020)
Developed by Lear, One Day at a Time is the only series on this list that has been remade for a modern audience. The original sitcom ran for nine seasons and 209 episodes on CBS. Created by married duo Whitney Blake and Allan Mannings, the show was based on Blake’s own experience as a single mother raising her daughters. In 2017, the series was remade for Netflix and starred an ensemble cast of Justina Machado, Todd Grinnell, Isabella Gomez, Marcel Ruiz, Stephen Tobolowsky, and Rita Moreno.