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Reunion: '227'

Marla Gibbs, Regina King, Jacké, and Hal Williams of the 1985-90 series remind us there really is ”no place like home”

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”Hey, daddyy!” exclaims Regina King when she catches sight of her 227 costar Hal Williams. It’s been more than two decades since the hit sitcom about gossiping residents in a Washington, D.C., apartment building — housewife Mary Jenkins (Marla Gibbs); her construction-boss husband, Lester (Williams); their insecure daughter, Brenda (King); and their sexy neighbor Sandra (Jackée Harry, who won an Emmy for the role) — went off the air, but the cast clearly shares a family bond. And they’re still hard at work: Gibbs, 80, acts in independent films; Harry, 55, recently starred in her own Funny or Die short, Nurse Jackée; King, 40, plays Det. Lydia Adams on TNT’s Southland; and Williams, 72, is active in local theater. While primping for their EW Reunions shoot, the gang reminisced about 227‘s five-season run.

What do you think people loved so much about the show?
Marla Gibbs They loved Jackée, for one thing. Those outfits, those legs, and that voice.
Jacké Harry My [18-year-old] son watches it. He loves it.
Regina King For me, the relationship between Brenda and her father is really special.
Hal Williams It was a family show that anybody could watch across all color lines.

Jackée, what do you remember about winning the supporting-actress Emmy in 1987? Bruce Willis presented it to you, and he called you Jackie instead of Jackée.
Harry I saw him later and kicked his ass. Every time I see him he calls me that. Punk. I didn’t expect to win. It was a blur.

Where do you think your characters would be today?
Williams I think Lester’s doing very well. He has his own company, probably lives in Virginia somewhere. We’ve got grandkids and all that stuff.
Harry Sandra’s with some old man giving her money! Mary probably owns a high-rise office building. And Brenda’s grown up to be a great mother and businesswoman.
King I came back home to help my mom run the building.
Gibbs Where is this building?!?

Do you feel like the major networks have all but given up on shows centered on African-Americans?
Harry I think the title of your article should be ”What Happened to the Black Sitcom?” We’ve disappeared. We have been banished. I’m not happy about it, I can tell you that.
Williams Our society has changed. People don’t get together as families anymore. I remember every day I had to be home at 5 o’clock because everybody had dinner together. Today, people don’t sit and have dinner — except on Blue Bloods.
Gibbs Studios don’t seem to care.
King When you go to pitch, the people making the decisions say, ”Well, what if she is a single mom and has four kids…” They want to put it back in a box.
Harry I’m still going around to meeting after meeting trying to get a show on. We’re like dinosaurs, but we’re still here.