A is for “All In the Family”

As I’ve previously announced, I’m going to focus my A to Z Challenge on TV shows I’ve watched and enjoyed. And since we’re going in alphabetical order, the first show I’m going to highlight is “All in the Family.”

“All in the Family” was an American sitcom television series that was originally broadcast on the CBS television network for nine seasons, from January 12, 1971, to April 8, 1979. Based on the British sitcom, “Till Death Us Do Part,” “All in the Family” was produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin. It starred Carroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers, and Rob Reiner. The show revolves around the life of a working-class father and his family.

The show was about the domestic life of the Bunkers, a lower-middle-class family living in Queens, New York. Its patriarch was Archie Bunker (O’Connor), an outspoken, narrow-minded, ever-grouchy social conservative, who held a nostalgic view of America and saw his way of life threatened by the rise of ethnic minorities, such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Jews. (Very much like many conservative Republicans of today still do).

Archie was seemingly prejudiced against everyone who was not like him or his shared his ideas about how people should be. Archie’s wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) was sweet and understanding, though somewhat naïve and uneducated. Archie often disparagingly referred to her as “dingbat.” Their only child, Gloria (Sally Struthers), was generally kind and good-natured like her mother, but displayed traces of her father’s stubbornness and temper. Gloria was a feminist who was married to graduate student Michael Stivic (Reiner), who lived with the Bunkers and who Archie referred to as “Meathead.” Stivic’s values were influenced and shaped by the counterculture of the 1960s. The two couples represented the real-life clash of values between the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers.

“All in the Family” was considered to be a groundbreaking show due to its depiction of issues previously considered unsuitable for a U.S. network television comedy, such as racism, antisemitism, infidelity, homosexuality, women’s liberation, rape, religion, miscarriages, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause, and impotence. The sitcom is often regarded in the U.S. as one of the greatest television series in history. Through depicting these controversial issues, the series arguably became one of television’s most influential comedic programs, as it was the first to inject the sitcom format with more dramatic moments and realistic, topical conflicts.

36 thoughts on “A is for “All In the Family”

  1. eschudel April 1, 2021 / 7:29 am

    It’s one of those few shows from back then that I can stand to watch again. I am not sure what that might say about our society today…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango April 1, 2021 / 2:03 pm

      It was a great show, but has much actually changed in our society sine then?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pradeep April 1, 2021 / 7:41 am

    I have heard and read about this. But I am not sure if it’s available in this part of the world. May be. I must check the OTT platforms.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. msjadeli April 1, 2021 / 9:13 am

    Interesting Archie and archetype both start the same way. I loved the show and singing along with Archie and Edith. “Oh the way Glen Miller played…” It was groundbreaking. Look how long it’s been and we’re still only baby steps away from where we were then. Does Archie remind you of anyone? (hint: orange stain)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Melanie B Cee April 1, 2021 / 10:57 am

    I remember watching this every week (because my mother was addicted to it and agreed fully with Archie). I quickly came to dislike it, because even though I was a teenager, Archie’s attitude rankled me, his misogyny, his bigotry, and his big mouth (which irritated me no end). Aside from the misogyny, it was like the behavior my own mother exhibited every day. Who needs a sit-com when one lives the real thing? My favorite episode probably was when Edith grew a backbone and divorced the boob near the end of the series. I always admired Jean Stapleton as she and Edith were somehow inextricably linked in my mind. A groundbreaking series certainly. But not all that funny from some perspectives!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen April 1, 2021 / 2:16 pm

      That’s amazing, kind of dumbfounding, that anyone would watch that show and identify with Archie Bunker. I liked when Edith started catching on, too, although I don’t specifically remember the divorce.

      Like

  5. JT Twissel April 1, 2021 / 11:32 am

    When this show came out I was too young to know that it was satire and thought it was awful! It was something I definitely had to grow into!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Teresa Grabs April 1, 2021 / 12:36 pm

    I loved All in the Family. It was also one of the first shows to show a trans character. That was such a heartbreaking arc that I still cry when I watch it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Marleen April 1, 2021 / 1:46 pm

    That’s a good write up. ✍️

    I don’t remember laughing much, but I thought the show was worthwhile. Disturbing.

    I didn’t see this, in my eyes, but my dad has said Archie reminded him of my mom’s dad. My grandfather wasn’t lower middle class and would never sit around or hang around the house in his tee shirt. So, I suppose what my dad was comparing was the mild cussing and the not infrequent (although not constant in my grandpa’s case) grumpiness. My mom’s dad wasn’t quite as grumpy or racist, and he was in favor of my mom going to college (while it hadn’t been his or his wife’s idea). That grandfather’s response to seeing the show was to reconsider his attitudes and relatively unrepresentated racism (or his level of racism for which the character could be called an exaggeration of his ways).

    Even though Archie was more extreme than anyone in my own family or, really, my life in general up to a certain point, I encountered someone when I was sixteen or so (my senior year but not anyone at my school) who was seriously worse (unless I’m not remembering how really terrible Archie was); I almost couldn’t believe anybody could say what this person said (an older teen), beyond using the “n” word. Actually, I’m now remembering two older male teens, rather than only the one, like that. Being newly able to drive got me out into a larger world. These guys would be younger than Meathead. Also, the grandfather I’m referring to was older than the “greatest generation” since I guess my parents were in that generation but didn’t act like Archie and Edith. My other grandfather was yet older (and had passed away by this time) but didn’t cuss and wasn’t racist. (I perceive that grandmother to have been racist [only because of an anecdote relayed to me later], though, yet not overt about it most of the time. Plus, she was polished so as not to cuss ever.)

    If I recall correctly, Archie didn’t use “the n” word. No one I knew did either. At a party, however, maybe five years ago, a young woman who is not late baby boomer or even gen X, but a millennial, was defending Paula Deen and said “we” (as in people she knew or her own family) “used to” use that word (which I don’t remember Ms. Deen using… but anyway). I piped up and said, “No we didn’t.” But that was her experience, and she was comfortable with it as proof that Paula wasn’t racist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen April 1, 2021 / 2:54 pm

      Back then, a “tee shirt” (as I was using the term) was a white undershirt.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marleen April 1, 2021 / 6:52 pm

        I have this impression that Bunker sat around in an undershirt. But I can’t find that in a picture. I guess what was different about my grandfather’s shirt (what he wore at home) is that, when my mom’s dad got home, he would change out of his white shirt as well as his suit and put on a button-down shirt with color (and a collar) rather than just leave on his white (dressy) shirt. [He’d wear a white dress shirt if we came over for a holiday, though.] At least Archie did have a real shirt on. Anyway, regardless that my grandfather on my mother’s side was less racist than Archie bunker — but still somewhat racist while not as much as the racists at the time who were against civil rights and equal voting — my mother took on what I would say was worse racism (but well-hidden so when it showed up it was like it sprang on you); her twin sister a little bit too (not as bad as my mom). And their older brother was worse than them all but kept his mouth shut about it at extended family gatherings; all of the grandchildren (my generation) rejected all of that and, in various separate phases, have turned toward progressive politics (like being a Republican used to be, which Grandpa was, but which being a Republican is no more). That uncle’s wife was always a considerate and progress person and almost couldn’t stand living with (being married to) him. She cooked and sewed (a wide range of things including my costumes for school plays) and did “all the things” ladies were supposed to (including, to this day, volunteering constantly at church); she’s over eighty and overcame breast cancer twice years after he died. She let go of the sewing along the way. I always reflect on all these dynamics when they come up. The daughters of my mom’s sister, as well as myself, found out about our mothers being racist in shock. Maybe my uncle was more like Archie than my grandfather was. I didn’t hang out at their home to see what home life was like with him. But, still, his wife wasn’t like Edith. And she eventually got a masters degree and became a head librarian. He was more, in attitude, like a cousin of my mom’s — who became a police officer — except he didn’t become a drunkard who had to be placed carefully at weddings.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. JEN Garrett April 1, 2021 / 5:08 pm

    I tried watching this once. I didn’t like it. I liked this write up of it, though!

    Like

  9. Ruth April 2, 2021 / 7:06 am

    My husband remembers this being on TV in the US when he was growing up – but I’m more familiar with the UK version Til Death Us Do Part, so do understand the idea behind it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Frewin55 April 2, 2021 / 8:29 am

    I had not heard of either your A or B shows, in England, we got shows filtered through the choices of English TV channels – now we can get more through Netflix, Youtube etc. from the Eighties, I remember Hill Street Blues, Thirty Something, ER and I expect more will come to me…
    So I will continue to follow your theme and see if any of those I know come up!

    https://how-would-you-know.blogspot.com/2021/03/a-is-for-arctane.html

    Like

    • Fandango April 2, 2021 / 8:09 pm

      Two of the three shows you mentioned are included on my list, and Thirtysomething was also a show I watched enjoyed, although it didn’t make the cut for the A to Z Challenge this time around.

      Like

  11. J.E.M. Wildfire April 2, 2021 / 5:53 pm

    This was definitely a “must watch” show. I don’t think I missed an episode, but I don’t remember Edith divorcing Archie. I seems so tame today, sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 2, 2021 / 10:41 pm

      If I remember correctly, which is rare these days, Edith didn’t divorce Archie, the character died. But that was after she left the show and it returned as “Archie’s Place.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • J.E.M. Wildfire April 3, 2021 / 12:00 am

        That’s the way I remember it, too. One of the other commenters mentioned that she divorced him.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. leigha66 April 4, 2021 / 11:57 pm

    A classic show! Just once I wanted to see Mike come away from an argument with Archie as a winner. They usually ended in a stalemate if I recall right.

    Liked by 2 people

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