Archie Bunker, was a bigoted working-class family man who held his views of the world. His viewpoints clash with nearly everyone he comes into contact with especially his son-in-law Mike Stivic (or, as Archie delights in calling him, "Meathead"). Written by
Brian Rathjen <email@example.com>
Voted #4 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. See more »
Throughout the first five seasons,it appears that Mike and Gloria's bedroom is on the opposite side of the wall from Archie and Edith's bedroom.
But in later episodes both bedrooms appear to be directly across the hall from eachother. See more »
Lear's shows really are the same template repeated over and over. There is a bigot (Archie, George, Fred) who comes to have experiences with the people he hates that slowly begin chiseling through his facade: With All In The Family, it is Lionel, Sanford And Son, Julio and The Jeffersons, the interracial couple next door. What happened to Lear is when he made his shows too pedantic (Maude), with unlikable characters, they bombed. Carroll O' Conner and Jean Stapleton were this show. The writing was consistently hilarious with occasionally forays into serious topics (Rape, Death). The show was a nation's way of debating the social issues that were congruent with this Zeitgeist (Vietnam, Watergate, Women's Liberation, Abortion, Gay Rights). They are the center of many of the episodes, you have the different Dasein or Being There trying to find compromise on the issues (The traditional family man, his wife, the hippie intellectual). Above all things, like my preferred Sanford And Son, the shows are funny. Archie's racism is not just aimed at darker skinned people. The Irish's famous hatred for Italians was not joyfully received in our house. "Italians are known for two things: Spaghetti and Revenge." Archie is like Dirty Harry, he hates everybody.
Many women consider the show sexist but, again, Lear is developing the character you are seeing from how he was at the beginning. Like Fred, he has good experiences with others different from him that, quite slowly, begin changing him. The rape episodes were quite controversial in their day and sparked a public debate. There are moments, here, where Archie shows his deep love for Stapleton. She may be submissive, but, not always. There are times when she stands up to him and demands he respect her wishes. These two great actors, with great writing, are why the show endured. Archie's chair is in the Smithsonian for a reason: It was iconic. It was a the emblem of a traditional society facing rapid social change. Yes, detractors, Lear had his liberal agenda that he is always pushing: ergo, the idealized representations of 'The Other.' Even I, a conservative, found some of his work meritorious: he was helping a whole generation experience those different from them as non-threatening. Archie was such a bungler that it was hard to take offense towards him. Describing the pope as 'inflammable', Lear writes him as a sour curmudgeon whose bluster conceals a good heart, buried, deep, deep down.
As Julio said to Fred Sanford,"You know, I know what is deep inside of you." When you watch this remember what is going on, at this time, in the United States. This is the most turbulent period of social upheaval since the Civil War. The love of Archie and Edith, their loyalty to each other is what is often missed. This, was the paradox, while promoting liberal views, the existential bedrock of this long running show was the love between these two traditional people surrounded by a changing country. Within the great comedy, there are quiet moments of love between the couple. This island of traditional conservative stability was the rock upon which many viewers cast their anchor. It was a delicate balance, Lear was not always successful in maintaining it. Sanford And Son's writing declined around season 4, the ratings plummeted. When all is said and done, whether dead tired working people laughed, or not, was the focal point. When, with Maude, Lear presented an unlikable cast, focusing more upon indoctrination, the show quickly failed. The opening song contains the show: "We could use a man like Herbert Hoover again; Those were the days." You seeing frightened people trying to latch onto some vestige of what the country once was. Archie and Edith were with me as I grew, they brought much laughter into our lives. Even I, a conservative, loved the show. A One Of A Kind Show. Q.E.D.
"You Can Never Step In The Same River Twice." Heraclitus
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