This post is one of a series honoring Black History Month.
Here’s one that’s fallen through the cracks. That’s My Mama was a step down in the evolution of the black sit-com. From the edgy Sanford and Son and The Jeffersons…to the originally edgy and later silly Good Times…to the fairly unambitious That’s My Mama…which paved the way for the virtually content-free What’s Happening.
That’s My Mama, which ran on ABC from September 1974 through December 1975 starred Clifton Davis (who is almost but not quite Cleavon Little) as a young barber who lives in Washington DC with his mother, played by Theresa Merritt (who is almost but not quite Mabel King). His two buddies are played by the ubiquitous Theodore “Teddy” Wilson (he was everywhere in the 1970s), and Ted Lange (better known as Isaac on The Love Boat). Lange’s catchphrase on the show was “Wooeee! I got it, I got it, and I GOTS to repo’t it!”
This “three buddies and a mama” format seems to have been borrowed whole cloth for the better remembered What’s Happening, which was on the air from 1976 to 1979.
This promo captures the flavor, and Youtube seems to have several episodes in their entirety: