I published an article about this legendary episode officially one year ago on October 9th 2020 and it was basically about how relevant this episode still was after over forty years since it premiered. For those who haven’t read that one yet or need a little refresher here’s the link to that first story: https://kendallrivers.medium.com/the-jeffersons-episode-the-first-store-and-how-it-relates-to-today-e4c83232fffd
Since that time, I’ve become good friends with the co writer of this episode, Jay Moriarty who with his equally talented partner Mike Milligan wrote such a powerful, memorable and again, relevant episode in our current climate. I also purchased Jay’s excellent book “Honky In The House” and in Chapter 23 Jay gives the rundown on this excellent episode, and today to celebrate the one year anniversary of my second Medium article ever I want to give you all a brief history of my relationship to this specific episode of The Jeffersons and the impact it has had on my life since I wrote that story on it one year ago today.
A good while after I published the article Jay found my little write up online by pure luck(Also, the big guy upstairs clearly felt like throwing a nice blessing my way, so glad that giving thanks every chance I get and always generous with giving back to the church is paying off nicely), liked it and went through a mighty long journey to reach out to me because like an ancient relic that the iconic Indiana Jones would search for I’m incredibly hard to find or reach, call me a charming recluse. When he finally found me he asked to share a phone conversation to talk about what I wrote. Now, I was in complete shock that a big time producer\writer managed to even find my silly little article no less read it and be impressed by it. I can’t tell you how star struck I still get every time I talk to the guy and ever since that first phone call he has become more than just a friend, he’s also become an incredible mentor and teacher whose been schooling me on sitcom script writing and I feel that I have grown quite a bit just from my time knowing him. (And this isn’t me sucking up, Jay. I actually mean it, I promise!)
I remember my reaction to this episode when I first saw it at age ten as clear as crystal. I had already been a fan of The Jeffersons watching it on reruns every night on Nick at Nite or what was The WB (now the CW) back in the day. Even as a little kid I got the jokes pretty well and loved all the characters, especially George, in fact I was such a huge fan of Sherman Hemsley that one of my birthdays I put on my wish list for him and Bill Cosby to make an appearance at my birthday party. (Good thing I didn’t get my wish on Cosby showing up, huh? That would now have been really awkward) When The First Store came on one night I was absolutely mesmerized by the strong content that so wonderfully balanced humor with really emotional drama. At ten, of course I couldn’t articulate what made that episode special to me but I knew instinctively that I was watching something special take place. The episode had some really powerful moments that stuck with me after I had seen it:
When I just so happened to catch The First Store rerun on Tv One last year after having not seen it in years the powerful impact it had on me as a kid came rushing back to me. I was astonished how relevant this episode was to what was going on at the time I was watching it. This was 2020 where the country was in complete upheaval due to a huge racial divide in the country stirred up by the murder of George Floyd, not to mention a global pandemic. It made me think about how the George Floyd tragedy paralleled the MLK assassination and the country’s reaction being almost the exact same, only difference being social media and footage playing a huge part in expressing the outrage of the tragic injustice. I had just published my very first article earlier that week and now I had my second.
The impact of The First Store episode is timeless, in an unfortunate way and in a good way. For me this specific episode has only brought me pure joy, helping me establish my Medium content and bringing Jay Moriarty into my life. So thank you, The First Store for all the good you have brought into my life the past year and for still being such an emotionally powerful yet still light hearted and uplifting, socially relevant piece of history that this generation and the next can still learn from as well as feel the range of emotions that it still stirs over forty years later.