As a screenwriter, producer, and director, Lear contributed to more than 100 TV shows throughout his seven-decade career in entertainment, winning six Emmy Awards and two Peabody Awards. The New England native, who was born in New Haven and raised for a time in Chelsea, was also honored by the Kennedy Center in 2017 and earned the Golden Globe’s Carol Burnett Award in 2021.
From “All in the Family” to “Good Times,” here are seven classic Lear sitcoms that fans can stream now to celebrate his legacy.
1. ‘All in the Family’
The classic 1971 sitcom has stood the test of time, even winning the Globe’s 2022 bracket of best TV shows from the past 50 years, as chosen by readers. Produced by Lear and Bud Yorkin, “All in the Family” centered on the cantankerous Archie Bunker, played by Carroll O’Connor, a bigot who often clashed with friends and family. Critic Matthew Gilbert praised the show for how it “radically changed scripted TV as it took on all the issues that previous series had been dodging, from the Vietnam War, racism, homophobia, and religion to menopause and impotence.” Available on Amazon Prime Video and Pluto
2. ‘Good Times’
Temporary layoffs and easy credit rip-offs couldn’t stop the characters of “Good Times” from having, well, a good time. Lear served as an executive producer on the 1974 sitcom, which was a spinoff of “Maude” (which itself was a spinoff of “All in the Family”). Starring Esther Rolle as matriarch Florida Evans and John Amos as patriarch James Evans, with Jimmie Walker as the hilarious J.J., “Good Times” put the stories of a poor, inner-city family struggling to make it in Chicago front and center, earning acclaim as the first sitcom to feature a two-parent Black family. Available on Peacock
The first of many “All in the Family” spinoffs, 1972′s “Maude” gave Bea Arthur’s Maude Findlay the spotlight after she debuted in the original series as the favorite cousin of Edith Bunker, played by Jean Stapleton. The hit sitcom followed the titular character as she navigated life as an outspoken woman who wasn’t afraid to flaunt her liberal politics. Lear served as a co-creator of the show alongside Yorkin, with “Maude” earning an Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for Arthur’s performance. Available on Pluto
4. ‘The Jeffersons’
Fish don’t fry in the kitchen and beans don’t burn on the grill, but with “The Jeffersons,” Lear cooked up an extra special sitcom that lasted for 11 seasons. The 1975 series focused on George and Louise Jefferson, played by Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford, neighbors of the Bunkers who moved on up from Queens to more affluent Manhattan. The longest-running spinoff from the “All in the Family” franchise, “The Jeffersons” was nominated for 14 Emmy Awards, winning two, including the 1981 award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series thanks to Sanford’s performance. Available on Tubi
5. ‘Sanford and Son’
Lear helped bring the hilarious story of a father and son junk shop to the small screen in 1972. In addition to Quincy Jones’s classic theme song, “Sanford and Son” featured comedy icon Redd Foxx as Fred G. Sanford, the elderly father of Demond Wilson’s Lamont, as the pair tried to keep their business and family relationship afloat. Running for six seasons, “Sanford and Son” earned Foxx three Golden Globe nominations. Available on Peacock, Philo, and Pluto
6. ‘One Day at a Time’
Another classic series developed by Lear, the 1975 sitcom “One Day at a Time” earned praise for its focus on a divorced single mother. The series starred Bonnie Franklin as Ann Romano Royer, who moves to Indianapolis with her teenage daughters, played by Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli. “One Day at a Time” ran for nine seasons, with a reboot series debuting on Netflix in 2017 before moving to Pop TV for its fourth and final season. Available on Pluto and Tubi
7. ‘The Powers That Be’
Lear served as an executive producer on the 1992 sitcom, which was helmed by “Friends” creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman. A parody of Washington politics, “The Powers That Be” starred John Forsythe as William Powers, a US senator from New England who tries to be a good guy but ends up in sticky situations. While the show lasted for only two seasons, it featured performances by a number of future stars who would earn fame starring in other classic sitcoms, including David Hyde Pierce of “Frasier” and Joseph Gordon-Levitt of “3rd Rock from the Sun.” Available on FuboTV
Matt Juul can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.