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227 (1985–90) was a sitcom on NBC starring Marla Gibbs as Mary Jenkins, resident of an apartment building in suburban Washington, DC. Also starring on the show were Hal Williams as her husband Lester, and Regina King as daughter Brenda. Other residents of the apartment were Mary's friends Rose (Alaina Reed Hall) and Pearl (Helen Martin), as well as Mary's nemesis Sandra (Jackee Harry).


  • Air-Vent Passageway: Pee-wee Herman uses one to escape from the locked storage room in "Toyland", but the burglar locks him in again after Pee-wee asked him for change for the pay phone.
  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: The motorcycle gang from "Flying Down to Leo's".
  • Alpha Bitch: In early episodes, Sandra was basically this for the apartment complex, although she was not without her softer moments. In later episodes, she became less snobbish and more dopey. Mary's later nemesis Emma Johnson plays this straighter, even with her own Girl Posse.
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  • Auto Erotica: Sandra makes out with her date in a car in "The Handwriting on the Wall".
  • Birthday Episode: "Flying Down to Leo's" is Lester's.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: In the fifth season, with Eva (dyed blonde), Mary (dark brunette), and Rose (dyed red/auburn).
  • Breakout Character: Sandra. She grew popularity with audiences and was going to star in the failed spin-off named after her actress.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: At the end of "Gone Fishing", Mary imitates the fake Jamaican accent Julian used while in disguise at his own memorial service.
  • Broken Treasure: In "Blues", Brenda accidentally scratches her grandfather's prized blues record. After her parents find another copy, Brenda ends up breaking that one as well.
  • The Cameo: Phyllis Diller in "The Class of '90".
  • Camping Episode: "Babes in the Woods"
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  • Celebrity Paradox: In "The Class of '90", Phyllis Diller guest stars as a woman having plastic surgery, and complains because they made her look like... Phyllis Diller.
  • Celebrity Star: Bobby Brown, Paul Reubens (as Pee-wee Herman), Run–D.M.C., and The Temptations were some of the big stars that had episodes revolve around their appearance.
  • Christmas Episode: "Mary's Christmas" in Season 1, "The Night They Arrested Santa Claus" in Season 4, and "Guess Who's Not Coming to Christmas" in Season 5.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Kia Goodwin (who played Rose's daughter Tiffany) was a cast member in Season 1, was Demoted to Extra in Season 2, and by Season 4 was completely gone from the show. Even when Rose got married to Warren in Season 5, she was nowhere to be found.
  • Clip Show: Season 4's "Looking Back"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Eva Rawley
  • Consolation Prize: Mary's and Sandra's prizes after losing on Wheel of Fortune are noodles and wood varnish.
    • On the Family Feud episode with Ray Combs, Sandra answers all the Fast Money questions with variations on "a man" and comes up with 0. When Lester's turn comes up, he answers "a home-cooked... cigarette" for a prisoner's last request and scores 199 points, and his team goes home with $995 instead of $5,000, and Ray reveals the number one answer was "a home-cooked meal", which Lester almost went with as the answer that would have given them the $5,000.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In "A Date to Remember", Sandra's date from Love Connection just happens to be the ex-husband of the banker Lester is trying to get a loan from - who flies into a rage when her ex is brought up.
  • Cool Old Lady: Pearl Shay
  • Cool Teacher: Dylan, who doesn't give tests or homework. He gets fired after Mary complains to the principal.
  • Courtroom Episode: "The Handwriting on the Wall" and "See You in Court"
  • Cousin Oliver: Countess Vaughn as Alexandria, an obnoxious Child Prodigy who moves in with the Jenkins family during Season 4.
  • Cowboy Episode: In the final season, the entire gang goes to a dude ranch for a two-part episode. The ladies end up kidnapped by water rustlers and the men set out to find them.
  • Dating Service Disaster: In "Matchmakers", Rose turns herself into someone she's not for a video dating service. Turns out her date did the same thing.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Sandra, in the Jackée pilot.
  • December–December Romance: Pearl meets a man at a singles bar and gets engaged to him that very night.
  • Demand Overload: In-universe, Mary is unable to fulfill a large order for her custom-made pillows in "Pillow Talk".
  • Depending on the Writer: As Sandra began to suffer from Flanderization, she would fluctuate between her previous personality and her newer characterization.
  • Disguised in Drag:
    • Warren, a cop, goes undercover as a woman in "Knock It Off", and gets mistaken for one by gangster Mr. Big.
    • Lester dresses as a woman in order to sneak out of Mary's room while she's sequestered for jury duty in "Trial and Error".
    • The new tenant in "Bull's Eye" is revealed to be a mystery writer who tests out his plots in real life to gauge people's reactions in order to maintain realism. One of the characters he tries out is a mysterious redhead in a trench coat.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Marla Gibbs sang the theme song.
  • Dom Com
  • "Double, Double" Title: One episode is titled "Author, Author".
  • Downer Ending: The end of "Rich Kid", where Calvin's drug-dealing friend is murdered.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: The opening credits imply that the apartment is two blocks away from the Washington Monument. There are homes near the National Mall, but even in the 80's they would have been way too expensive for the working-class main characters. Also, the address 227 Lexington Place, N.E., if it existed, would be miles away from the Mall; Lexington Place N.E. is located between 6th and 7th Streets NE, with Stanton Park being the closest landmark.
  • Faking the Dead: Julian fakes his death to prevent his ex-wife from obtaining 227 in "Gone Fishing".
  • Faux Horrific: Lester runs for his life when Mary goes to put on her "grass skirt and coconut bra" in "Knock It Off".
  • Flanderization: Sandra was much more of a scheming vamp when the series began, was reasonably intelligent, and even dressed somewhat modestly. As time went on, her character became more of a man-hungry, airheaded bimbo, with the sexy dresses to match.
    • Mary was always the Straight Man to the other women, but, as the show went on, she became much more willing to come up with a Zany Scheme or let something go to her head, causing Lester to usually be the Straight Man to her.
  • Flashback: The residents recount how they first arrived at 227 in "House Number".
  • Flipping the Bird: Presumably the response from the garbage men, after Mary heckles them in the pilot.
    Pearl: And they weren't saying "We're #1", either.
  • Formerly Fat: One episode features a visit from a former Alpha Bitch who repeatedly comments on how much weight Mary's lost since high school, with other comments on how unpopular she was. Of course, given that said character was also Lester's jealous ex-girlfriend, she was probably just being petty.
  • Friendly Enemy: Sandra and Mary.
  • Game Show Appearance:
  • Gender-Blender Name: Toots, the deli owner (played by Red Buttons) in "The Audit".
  • Good Parents: Lester and Mary
  • Grand Finale: The series finale is Brenda's high school graduation.
  • Happily Married: Again, Lester and Mary
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Could apply to Warren (a cop) and Rose (whose hair was reddish at the time).
  • Housewife: Mary, of course.
  • Incessant Music Madness: In "House Number", Rose relates the story of when she first moved to 227 and one of the neighbors had a rock band that would not stop playing.
  • Irrevocable Message: In "There Go the Clowns", Mary calls Lester's boss to chew him out about not giving him a raise and ends up leaving the message on his answering machine. Lester comes home minutes later and announces that he got the raise. Mary and her friend then sneak into the boss's house to retrieve it. After another sitcom misadventure, they end up confessing what they did to Lester's boss. He understands...and reveals he doesn't have an answering machine.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Pearl once mentioned she knew a man from Kentucky who wanted to open a restaurant after leaving the military, to which she said, "Who would buy fried chicken from a white man?!"
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Julian shows he's this in "Guess Who's Not Coming to Christmas" by entertaining orphans for Christmas.
  • Like Father, Like Son: The mother-daughter equivalent, in "Far from the Tree"; Sandra's mother tells her that she was just like Sandra when she was younger, but that she had to change when she married a minister.
  • Locked in a Room:
    • Mary, Lester, Sandra, and Pee-wee Herman get locked in a toy store's storage room by a burglar in "Toyland".
    • The residents get locked in the laundry room in "House Number".
  • May–December Romance: Sandra dates a much older man in "For Richer, For Poorer".
  • Mistaken Confession: Lester shows up at Mary's hotel room in order to surprise her. He's shocked to find men's clothing in her closet (which she bought for him). When she returns to the room, he holds up one of the shirts, asking her, "How could you do this to me?", assuming she's having an affair. Thinking he's complaining about the clothes and not understanding why he's upset, she blithely declares, "Honey, I do it all the time! Whenever I shop, whenever I travel! I thought you liked it!"
  • Mistaken for Exhibit: In "You Gotta Have Art", Mary helps clean up at Eva's art gallery and inadvertently leaves the cleaning supplies on a pedestal. It becomes an art sensation.
  • Never Win the Lottery: "Pick Six" has Mary scolding Rose and Pearl about wasting their money on buying lottery tickets, only to find that Mary herself bought a ticket, using their numbers. Pearl and Rose are rightfully upset, and Mary offers to split the winnings. Mary wins the lottery, but so did everyone in the building and over 13,000 others in the Washington, DC area! In the end, Mary's winnings were $266 and after splitting it with Rose and Pearl, only pocketed $88.67.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Diminutive Gary Coleman plays a gangster named Mr. Big in the episode "Knock It Off".
  • Nosy Neighbor: All of them, to varying degrees. Mary decides for herself to interfere in Sandra's plans to become a single mother when Sandra's reproductive plans are absolutely none of her business.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Mary and Lester's respective parents actually adore their children-in-law. It's each other they can't stand.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Social Security Administration clerk in "Check Snub" who - thanks to an inaccurate computer entry - is convinced Pearl is dead.
  • One Head Taller: Warren (Rose's boyfriend and eventual husband) towers over her (not to mention everyone else in the cast).
  • Only One Name: Jackée Harry started going by her first name only during the show's run.
  • Parental Abandonment: Calvin lives with his grandmother Pearl because his mother is dead and his father is in the military.
  • Parents for a Day: Dylan and Travis take care of a baby abandoned in Travis' limo in "A Pampered Tale".
  • Parent with New Paramour: Lester's dad in "The Class of '90" shows up to Brenda's graduation with a new girlfriend. Lester spends most of the episode being quite rude to the woman and even trying to find ways to prevent the two from sleeping together. He comes around after his father assures him that he hasn't forgotten his wife, he simply doesn't want to spend his remaining years alone.
  • The Perfectionist: Rose accuses Mary of being this, and wanting others to be like this, in the pilot.
  • Piss Take Rap: In "Rapture", in order to help a teen neighbor during an upcoming history test, Mary and Lester decide to motivate him by rapping. Lester specifies that he hates rap but is willing to do it to help his friend, coming out dressed like Run-DMC (or possibly Sir Mix-a-Lot).
    I never liked this music / I want it off the map
    But to help them pass the test / Even I'm prepared to rap
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot:
    • The Season 2 episode "The Audit" seems to spend a bit too much time on the patrons of a diner, one of whom is an IRS auditor (played by Ron Glass) who's dating Sandra and auditing the Jenkins.
    • Season 3's "The New Neighbors" similarly spends a lot of time on the Gonzales family, who move into the building.
    • The pilot to the failed spinoff Jackée aired separately from the series, but it may look like this since it's now included in 227's syndication package.
  • Preacher's Kid: Sandra
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Dylan McMillan
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Pearl and Calvin were promoted in Season 2. Dylan was promoted in Season 5.
  • Put on a Bus: Alexandria left before the end of Season 4.
  • Really Gets Around: Sandra, whose main goal (if not her only goal) in life involves finding and dating a man.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Pee-wee Herman playing with the burglar's REAL gun as if it's a toy, in "Toyland".
  • Recurring Character: Ray the mailman, and Rose's boyfriend (and later husband) Warren.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Pearl is mistakenly considered dead by the Social Security office in "Check Snub".
  • Rogue Juror: In "Trial and Error", everyone decides to vote the suspect guilty, except for Sandra, who had a reasonable doubt and convinces Mary that shw has a point. The man turned out to be innocent anyway.
  • Santa's Existence Clause: "The Night They Arrested Santa Claus" sees a crook dressed as Santa rob the main characters during their Christmas party. To help teach Alexandria the spirit of Christmas, the adults each get the idea to dress up like Santa—only to each get mistaken for the crook and arrested. Eventually, a guard with a white beard and twinkle in his eye brings in the real crook—calling him a disgrace to Santa, letting everyone else out of the cell, and quickly departing. Upon learning no such guard is on duty tonight, Lester wonders if the guy was actually Santa. He dismisses that as crazy, only for everyone to suddenly hear sleigh bells.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Could probably apply to most of the women on this show.
  • Sexy Secretary: Sandra. Unusually for this trope, she's actually very efficient.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: As mentioned above, "There Go the Clowns" has Mary try to erase a hurtful message that she left on Lester's boss's answering machine. When caught, she explains the situation to him, and Lester's boss reveals that he didn't even have an answering machine.
  • Show Some Leg: Sandra tries to distract the burglar with sex appeal in "Toyland".
  • So Beautiful It's a Curse: Sandra legitimately laments this after a jealous Mary shows up at Lester's construction office, where she's been hired as a secretary and interferes to the point where she gets fed up and quits despite the fact that she's doing a good job. She tells Mary that it's not the first time something like this has happened and that she's sick of it—for all her flirtatious ways, she's never pursued a married man.
  • Special Aesop Victim: One episode
has Calvin becoming friends with a kid who was selling drugs. When Mary finds out, she tries to warn the boy's mother who doesn't believe her. Later on Mary and the other adults take the kids to a drug prevention meeting which they don't take seriously. That is until the mother comes in and tells them her son was murdered from a dealing gone wrong.
  • Spin-Off: Jackée, but it didn't make it past the pilot stage.
  • Spinoff Sendoff: Pearl appeared in the Jackée pilot.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver:
    • "Men's Club" has Mary and Sandra dressing as men to get into an exclusive club to see Lester get an award.
    • Mary disguises herself as a man when trying to get Run–D.M.C. to play Brenda's prom in "The Class of '89".
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Twisted and inverted. One episode saw Mary Jenkins get after her teen-aged daughter, Brenda, after she refers to a neighbor — building floozy Sandra Clark (Jackee Harry) — by her first name. Even though "Mrs. Clark" freely allowed her teen-aged neighbors to call her by her first name ("Call me Sandra!"), Mary's rules were otherwise.
  • Token White:
    • Barry Sobel (as Dylan) was the show's only white cast member.
    • When the show first started, Cora was one of the few white tenants in the building.
  • Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket: In "The Wheel of Misfortune", Sandra thinks the instructions for preparing noodles (which is basically adding boiling water) are too complicated.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Jackée Harry plays both Sandra and Sandra's cousin Conchita in the episode "Double Your Pleasure".
  • Vacation Episode: The Jenkins and their friends take a trip to a dude ranch in "How the West Was Fun".
  • Very Special Episode: Season 2's "Rich Kid", about a friend of Calvin's named Ron who's a drug dealer. The episode ends with a Wham Line when Ron's mother reveals that he's been stabbed to death.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sandra and Mary can't stand each other, but seem to hang out nearly as much as Mary does with her genuine friends Rose and Pearl.
  • Whole Plot Reference: "Play Christy for Me" is a take-off on Play Misty for Me, where Lester works as a DJ and gets suggestive calls from a woman named Christy.


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