May 15, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Sure, the show was called Sanford and Son, but there was much more to it than Redd Foxx’s cranky junk man and his long-suffering offspring (Demond Wilson). Norman Lear’s 1972-77 NBC smash vividly painted L.A.’s South Central community of African-Americans (Whitman Mayo’s Grady), Latinos (Gregory Sierra’s Julio), and Asians (Pat Morita’s Ah Chew). And therein lies an irony: For a show that was brazenly un-PC for its time, its inclusivity looks downright enlightened compared with today’s segregated sitcoms.

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