I was born in 1967, and Sanford and Son came on in 1972, which basically means I have watched this show my entire life. I am white and from the South and I and my dad loved this show, but not The Jeffersons, or Good Times.
Redd Foxx was hilarious and had the character down pat. Demond Wilson made a great straight man to Foxx. Then there are his friends, Bubba and Grady. Whitman Mayo was about as funny as Foxx was. When Foxx "went on strike" Mayo did admirably. Foxx also used a lot of the players from his days on the "Chitlin Circuit" Lawanda Page was a comedic genius. I have heard some of her stage performances, and this woman was DIRTY, Foxx's show is Bob Hope compared to her.
We liked/loved and cared about the characters. Lamont and Fred loved each other very much and were best friends. Also, this was the 1970's, before political correctness. We could talk about race, even say "******" and laugh at it all the same. One of the all time funniest scenes was Fred defending Lamont in traffic court. You could not do that today. Actually most all the actors of this show were great and most of the stories funny. The Hawaii episode was a stinker, and the weird dream episode where Fred and Lamont in WWII was strange. But 90 percent of the shows were great.
The show lasted as long as it did, and as someone mentioned above, after Redd came back from his "strike" the stories got more silly and ridiculous. But I for one liked the "circus in the yard" episode and especially the talents of Lawanda Page. It was also nice to see Lamont getting together with that nice girl with the son in the last season. We got a sense of Lamont moving on with his life with Fred's blessing. Fred gets his high school diploma. We may not liked how it ended, but it ended on a good note.