Bern Nadette Stanis was happy that Thelma got away from the ''bathroom bit''
When the Evans family first appeared on our television screens in the 1970s, it was one of the first series to showcase a two-parent African American family. Although the Evans were poor, it didn't stop James, Florida, J.J., Thelma and Michael from making the best of their financial situation.
Good Times was a ground-breaking show, but it did fall victim to stereotypical characters that producers had to develop as the seasons continued. Thelma Evans, played by Bern Nadette Stanis, was the middle child and the only daughter. In the first two seasons, there was always what viewers and producers would call a "bathroom bit" with the character.
When Thelma wasn't acting boy-crazed, she was obsessed with her appearance. In almost every episode of the first two seasons, the character was in the bathroom of the Evans' apartment, which is why the other characters, mainly J.J. (Jimmie Walker), always made a statement about her holding up (spending too much time in) the bathroom.
According to Bern Nadette Stanis, the producers created the bathroom bit because they had no idea what to do with the young female character, initially written to be "hardcore."
"This year, Michael (Ralph Carter) and I will have a chance," she told The Indianapolis Star in 1975. "I like to sing and dance, but I doubt if that will happen. Thelma is going to be known as an A student, and I understand there's a script [around me] studying to be a doctor. But the writers haven't molded Thelma yet."
Norman Lear and producers made it their mission to give Stanis' character a purpose on the show. When season three started, viewers saw a shift in the character as she navigated through teen life in the South side of Chicago.
Thelma not only had beauty, but she had brains too, and that ripped away the stereotypical image that was once written in past seasons. From playwriting to attending college, Bern Nadette Stanis became happy with her character's development.
She still, however, had one "bit" that stayed until the series finale: no one wanted to eat Thelma's cooking.
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