Set in a high-rise apartment building in the heart of New York City, the show spun around George, a classic character portrait of vanity, arrogance, and petty prejudice. Balanced by the more level-headed but just as strong-willed Weezy, George's self-serving abrasiveness struck comic gold, particularly in the second season, when the show's style had been set but was still fresh. Episodes tackled subjects trivial (George and Tom wear the same tacky dinner jacket to a party) and trenchant (a country club invites George to join, but only so that a newspaper reporter will think the club is open to minorities). The black and white mix of the cast allowed for a sharply satirical take on race relations, which managed to have a genuine sense of hope while never glossing over the complexity of racial tension--and was consistently funny. In fact, it's striking how well the show's humor holds up; The Jeffersons turned a series of half-hour farces into a sly examination of marriage, race, class, and the battle of the sexes; it's sad that so few contemporary sitcoms have this kind of intelligence, courage, and sheer talent. Add to my shows

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