TV Draft Round 7 – Pick 1 – Paula Selects – All In The Family

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Paula at http://paulalight.com

I’m extra-excited to do this write-up because not only was All in the Family one of my favorite shows way back when, but it’s also one of the few that stands the test of time. So many other shows that I enjoyed in my youth are impossible for me to watch now because they are so full of sexism and jokes that just fall flat. AITF was unique in that it took the common bigotries and stuffed them into the character of Archie Bunker so the rest of us could see how ridiculous they were. (Sadly, many of them persist regardless.) But in his way, Archie was lovable, and he did end up changing, especially after his wife Edith died and he went on to the spin-off Archie Bunker’s Place.

AITF was a sitcom created by Norman Lear. It debuted on CBS on January 12, 1971 (over 50 years ago!) and ran for nine seasons. The show was based on a British sitcom Till Death Us Do Part, and it was produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin. Carroll O’Connor played the main character Archie Bunker, Jean Stapleton played his wife Edith, Sally Struthers played their daughter Gloria, and Rob Reiner played Gloria’s husband Michael Stivic. Most people will recognize the opening theme song “Those Were the Days,” which Archie and Edith warbled off-key, thus beginning each episode on a funny note. [My source for this post is Wikipedia.]

The writing touched upon many issues that had previously been avoided on network comedy: abortion, anti-Semitism, homosexuality, rape, religion, cancer, menopause, etc. Due to its bravery in tackling these topics, AITF has been regarded as one of the greatest series in history. It also went from meh Nielsen ratings in the first season to No. 1 during summer reruns and afterward. The Writers Guild of America ranked it as the fourth-best written TV series ever.

The premise of the show is that Archie, a middle-aged working-class white man in Queens, NY, has the perpetual grumps toward his family, his neighbors, and the world in general. He is narrow-minded and conservative, and he views people strictly through his prejudices and stereotypes. One of the most frequent targets of his snide asides is his son-in-law Michael, a graduate student with a Polish background. Archie calls him “Meathead,” and Michael earnestly tries to enlighten Archie about new cultural ideas resulting in much hilarity for the audience.

To save money, the Stivics live with the Bunkers, so there are plenty of opportunities for the two men to butt heads, over topics major and minor.

Gloria is often exasperated with their arguments, but since she’s a feminist, she’ll take a stand on issues relating to women’s rights. She also gets particularly incensed at the inconsiderate way Archie treats her mom. For her part, Edith tries to keep the peace in their home by ignoring Archie’s nasty comments.

Another frequent target of Archie’s snark is a family of black neighbors, the Jeffersons. George Jefferson (played by Sherman Hemsley) is hilarious in his own right and ends up successful and wealthy enough to move out of the neighborhood to a posh place. The Jeffersons is a spin-off of AITF (there are many!), with George and Louise living in a luxury building (kinda similar to the one in Only Murders!).

If you’ve never seen AITF, I highly recommend checking out a few eps. Personally, I never get tired of stumbling across a clip here or there. This is one of my favorites, and it never fails to make me laugh.

~*~

Paula Light is a poet, novelist, flash fiction fan, cupcake connoisseur, mom, grandma, cat mommy, etc. Her blog can be found at http://paulalight.com.

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

18 thoughts on “TV Draft Round 7 – Pick 1 – Paula Selects – All In The Family”

  1. Great post Paula. I think this is probably one of the most important sitcoms in history. It changed the game completely. It single-handedly knocked the sixties sitcoms out and made writers think much deeper than before. Its influence still is felt today in modern shows.

    I like how Archie showed growth as the show went on…by Archie Bunker’s Place he was more tolerant and had learned some on the way. By the end Mike ended up respecting Archie and Archie him to a point…it was great writing and acting as they knew the characters so well.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Paula, AITF is also one of my favorite shows of all times. It’s endlessly funny and invaluably educating. I think Archie’s chair now rests in The Smithsonian. His character is an icon of The American Bigot and you’re right, using the format of him venting on poor Mike/Meathead and Edith was just the right way to go about it. My favorite character hands-down is Edith. Her facial expressions and the way she moved were so hilarious!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I’m showing a touch of prejudice here, but this American show is one of the few that is way better than its British forbear. ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ was harsh, strident and unfunny because Alf Garnett – the UK Archie- was thoroughly unlikeable, whereas Archie is an ignorant ass but not a total dick. He does learn. Garnett would not.
    Funny how so many people would say, obliviously ‘but Archie/Alf has a point…’

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I have never seen that version before… I always wondered about it.
      I’m doing a British show on my pick because the American version…well for the lack of a better word…sucks.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. NO lol…but I have seen both versions of that though. Giggle TV at it’s best!
        The title of mine is a Bowie song.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. you’re right about the rarity of it Obbverse– the US networks managed to make ‘Cracker’ and ‘Fawlty Towers’ remarkably bland and boring when they ‘Americanized’ them

      Liked by 2 people

      1. They also tried “Are You Being Served” and it tanked bad….they watered the characters down. The one I can think of that is good…is The Office…even the creators liked the American version also.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s great to see this show make the list. It was essential weekly viewing in my family’s house back then. All generations enjoyed it, from my grandparents to my teenage and college-age uncles.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. well-said Paula. If you hadn’t picked it, I would have… a great show and also important one for society and TV. A real game-changer. It was funny but also dramatic and as you say,, it holds up well still today. And unlike so many shows, the characters were 3-dimensional…both the liberals and conservatives were shown as being subject to folly and flaw, but all had redeeming qualities. Archie as an unreasonable bigot, but he does grow and loves his family and for all his blatant prejudice, Jefferson next door is just as bad in reverse. He comes to respect Mike and even take his side when Gloria (his “little girl”) fools around on him… and his love of Edith, though poorly expressed, was obvious. A truly great show.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. One of the best, Paula! It does stand the test of time. Those Norman Lear shows were so good! AITF along with The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Maude, etc all still continue to make me laugh. Yes, there are many things on them that would be considered “politically incorrect” today, but they were groundbreaking at the time!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. This also one of my favorite shows of all time. It was a constant presence in my young childhood as well as all its spinoffs.

    I recently learned that I am now older than Carol O’Connor was when he started the first series, and I’m not sure how I feel about that since he always seemed so much older.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I grew up with it as well…yea…I hate looking at my age and comparing it to stars as I was growing up. He looked much older though than what he was… kinda like Fish on Barney Miller.

      Liked by 1 person

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