After debuting as a summer program in 1976, What's Happening!! cashed in on solid ratings and the failure of other shows to become regular weekly programming on ABC that fall. The sitcom hooked audiences with the three beloved teens living in Watts—the bespectacled Raj, the forever-smiling Dwayne, and the man with the famous dance, Rerun.
Raj was an outstanding student with dreams of one day being a writer. Rerun struggled academically, but was an amazing dancer. Dwayne always brought positive energy, frequently making his presence known by exclaiming "Hey, hey, hey!" when entering a room. Occasionally meddling in their lives and pulling zero punches was Raj's younger sister, Dee. The guys usually hung out at Rob's Place, where they always ran into Shirley, a boisterous waitress who was just as eager to rib the gang as Dee was.
Known for its recognizable theme song, What's Happening!! was popular enough to draw guests like the Doobie Brothers. It yielded a spinoff entitled What's Happening Now!! that aired from 1985 to 1988; the old cast returned to give the world an early look at a young Martin Lawrence, who worked as a busboy at Rob's.