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|Index||103 reviews in total|
In today's politically correct environment, a show like this could not be
made today. This show dealt with the prejudices that ALL of us have in us.
I am African-American and I admit that at times I have said things about
other races that I now regret. I get that from my late father who was a
Black version of Archie, even down to the favorite easy chair. Anyone can
be a bigot and I feel that this show pointed it out in its own unique way.
Also, this show really dealt with issues besides predjudice. In fact it was groundbreaking due to the fact it dealt with so many controversial issues such as Vietnam, menopause, impotence, gun control and rape. In fact, the episode that pretty much stands out in a lot of peoples minds is when Edith had to deal with the fact that she was nearly raped on her birthday and what she went through to face her worst fear.
The series was a powder keg immediately from the start as Civil Rights unrest and equal rights not only for minorities, but also women dominated headlines. And then there was Vietnam and Watergate. There was total chaos still in places in the south and in larger metropolitan areas in the north. Could television bring these public affairs to light in a comical and thought-provoking way? The answer was a resounding yes as "All in the Family" tore down perpetual American television programming walls with brash views, crazed situations, envelope-pushing elements and dominant film-making techniques (even though this was a sitcom) which all merged to paint a canvass of programming superiority that lasted for 212 mind-blowing episodes over nine years from 1971 through 1979. "The Andy Griffith Show" in the 1960s displayed how Americans wanted life to be, while "All in the Family" in the 1970s showed how American life really was. The result was a ratings monster pretty much from the word go as people watched to be entertained, to be disgusted, to praise and to criticize. The show itself was about a blue-collared New York dock worker (Carroll O'Connor) who has bigoted expressions because life continues to slap him in the face. O'Connor was definitely anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-youth and anti-liberal. He also had crazed views that would show him as being pro-Nixon and pro-Vietnam (real hot button topics back then). The show struck cords the nation over, but comedy was always mixed in and the series thrived due to both its supporters and its detractors. "All in the Family" fought problems in the U.S. by poking fun at very serious issues instead of sweeping them under the carpet like other programs of the period did. Jean Stapleton was priceless as O'Connor's kind, naive and somewhat dumb housewife. Sally Struthers was their only child, a liberal who showed the viewpoints of the Baby Boom generation. She was also married to a young man (Rob Reiner) who was O'Connor's emotional and verbal sparring partner. Reiner was of a Polish descent and that only fueled more fire between the volatile pair. O'Connor's Archie Bunker is arguably the deepest and most unique television character of all time as his crazed and sometimes silly views overshadow the fact that he is a highly sensitive middle-class man who is doing the best for himself and those around him. He is someone who does not always think before he speaks and therein lied his greatest weakness. Eventually most who saw the program embraced him as a flawed and tortured hero (not because of who he was, but because of who he really wanted to be). The lasting effect of "All in the Family" is something to think about, even today. The program continues to be vitally important to 1970s art, society and history. The success of the program even led to spin-offs galore. "Maude", "The Jeffersons", "Archie Bunker's Place" and "Gloria" were all the birth-children of this innovative, smart and completely original taste of Americana that still lives on strong today through many cable channels. 5 stars out of 5.
When All In The Family first came on the air in 1971, you could say that tv was in it's infancy. I mean, when Lucille Ball became pregnant with Desi on her tv show they couldn't even say that word on the air. On the Dick Van Dyke show, they always showed Rob and Laura in seperate beds. All In The Family exploded like a bomb on this innocent world of tv. It showed subjects that were previously taboo like menopause, breast cancer, vasectomies, impotence, rape and even Archie taking a dump and flushing the toilet! Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers all were an amazing team that made tv history. People don't realize that Norman Lear actually based the character of Archie Bunker on his father Herman. His father was basically a good man, but he was very prejudiced like Archie was. He would tell his wife to "stifle herself" and there was a special chair in his house that he alone would sit in. He would tell his son that he "was the laziest white kid he ever knew". Norman grew up hating his father's prejudices while he still loved his father. Paul Harvey had that on one of his "Rest Of The Stories". Carroll O' Connor had started off his acting career in drama and playing Archie gave him the chance to be dramatic on many occasions. The one episode that I remember was one that came on while the Vietnam war was still being fought it was where Mike brought home a friend for Thanksgiving who was a draft dodger and that same night a friend of Archies came over who had lost a son in the war. Archie exploded in rage at Mike (usually on the show when he gets mad its funny because he is just making a fool of himself, but in this episode it is chilling!). There was another episode where Archie had a problem with drugs and delivered a tearful monologue to Edith and Gloria and Mike when they confronted him with his problem. All In The Family spawned the realistic tv shows that we see today and also led to the spin offs Maude and The Jeffersons. Norman Lear created such a wonderful television legacy for all time and it all started with Archie Bunker, America's favorite bigot and All In The Family. His original aim was to create a show that would allow us to look into our own hearts and souls and see our own fears and prejudices and be able to laugh at them. I guess that in a sense you could say that there is a little bit of Archie Bunker in all of us and that is why he remains so endearing and so popular. It is like we are looking into a mirror.
"All in the Family" may have been one brilliant show,but it was also one
those that broke every TV standardize code ratings
system and it was the backbone of such shows(or sitcoms)to follow years
later down the line like "Sanford and Son",
"The Jeffersons"(which were both under the supervision of producer-creator
Norman Lear) "Married:With Children",and etc.
Carroll O'Connor's portrayal of Archie Bunker was electrifying to watch because the show had such a good content of the day's relevant issues(which were strictly taboo from TV before this show ever hit the airwaves) mixed with some slapstick and of course Archie's mouth and logic. It had subjects that were tackled head on including homosexuality,gender roles,racism,war, economy,women's rights,and the choice of abortion(which one episode dealt with that subject),suicide,and birth control, education,child custody and old age.
Even when the commentary of certain items were brought up in the Bunker home,it was always Archie and Micheal(played by Rob Reiner)who quarrel over certain issues in which Archie calls Micheal either a "meathead",or "polark" because of his European heritage,which in turn made Archie one of the most bigotists people ever made for television.
Its very informative that the commentary on life in America is sometimes light-hearted in a sense,but brings out the bigot in all of us,and makes us think very hard on what we're doing to ourselves and each other.
The show itself had some very powerful episodes here,including one where Edith loses a loved one over his gender(which Jean Stapleton won the emmy for that compelling episode),and the part where Archie falls apart over the death of his wife(very emotional and powerful episode in which Carroll O'Connor won two emmys for his work as Best Actor on the show,and one for Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner as well).
During its initial run on CBS(as "All In The Family" from 1971-1979,and as "Archie Bunker's Place" from 1979-1982),the show as a whole has a very strong significance and content that applies still to this day,and one of the most influential shows ever to come out of the golden decade of great TV: the 1970's. Kudos to Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton,wherever you are!
Catch the classics episodes on TV Land and Nick at Nite.
Many people will tell you that the perfect show, yet alone the perfect
sitcom does not exist. I normally would agree, but I watched All in the
Family, and this show is without a doubt one of the top contenders in my
opinion and, well, to me is the greatest TV show of all time. You never
get television like this these days, a show that is controversial,
groundbreaking, different and all around brilliant, as you do in this
The show centers around Archie Bunker, a bigoted dock worker living in Queens. His wife is Edith Bunker, nice sweet woman who stays at home. His son in law is Mike Stivic, an idealistic college student of Polish descent, and Gloria, Mike's wife and Archie's daughter.
Archie is not your typical sitcom character, he comes across more as a real person, exactly what he is supposed to be. He is aging, obnoxious, quite angry, his hair is out of place, and his motives are hardly altruistic. He always barks at his wife and his son in law, always arguing at someone, and always saying something bad about The I-talians, the Chinkies, the Catholics, the coloreds, the A-rabs, pretty much anyone that is not American.
Mike Stivic is the idealistic college student and constantly arguing with Archie. The two rarely if ever saw eye to eye and were always on each others nerves. That in the early years was the core of the show. The two discussed issues ranging from the Vietnam War, Nixon, affirmative action, racism, women's liberation, television never saw such debate on television before, and all of these issues, the way they talked (it was one of the first times someone cussed on television) and the realistic dialogue on very current issues made this one of the most popular shows of all time.
Archie Bunker was your typical working class guy, something rare in television up until that point and definitely since that point. Television always had people that were well to do, nice looking and always wealthy, for the most part. This show was about a regular family, people identified with the regular people, and they fell in love with the show. A show like this would be hard to do today. There was so much controversy at the time and people were really divided, like they were on this show. This was a show that reflected the day, and the hot button issues of the day are not nearly as hot button today. This still is great as a time piece, and definitely funny because of the brilliant Carroll O'Connor, who played Archie.
Nick at Nite said Archie was the original King of Queens, that is absolutely true, no question. Archie was great, and there will never be a show on TV quite like this one. This show captured the time so perfectly, and TV wouldn't allow to be a show to be so edgy today. This would be too much. It would be too issue oriented, unlike a lot of these shows today, where every show is a cookie cutter show, and all of the shows are not funny today.
But then there is the supporting cast. First there was George Jefferson, and his precursor Henry Jefferson, who was George's brother. They were only in one show together, which was Henry Jefferson's last show. When George Jefferson was on the show it was some of the best shows ever on television to me.
The two best George Jefferson episodes were when George wanted Archie to sign a re-zoning petition to further expand George's dry-cleaning business and the other one was when we met Lionel's fiancée who was part white and this drove Archie and George crazy. The climax of that one show was brilliant. Tom Willis, the father of Lionel's fiancée and Louise Jefferson started dancing and both George and Archie toasted to a time that would have never happened. That was brilliant.
Then there was Barney Heffner, one of Archie's best friends, my personal favorite of his buddies but a bit of a late arrival. Kelsey owned the bar where Archie hang out, then there was the bartender Harry and many more. Then there are all of the very small parts, people that appeared in maybe one or two episodes but were constantly referred to, like next door neighbor McNabb, Stretch Cunningham, Mr. Quigley, all the family members and so many more. All of the supporting cast made this show so good to, no question.
In all of the characters that came on this show, few if any supporting characters were weak. All of them provided something unique to the episodes they were in. I do find some very minor weaknesses in the show. I thought Edith should have been a little less dingbatty. She should have argued with Archie a little bit more, stood up to Archie a little more.
This show works on another level as well. Gloria's character can be a spoiled brat, and outright mean sometimes. I cannot stand her character on occasion. In television characters tend to be very inoffensive, perfect and laid back. She annoyed me and I could not stand her. Character development was excellent in this show.
Among my favorite episodes other than those with George Jefferson were the ones like the one where Cleavon Little and Demond Wilson (later Lamont of Sanford and Son) robbed the Bunker residence, the one where Archie witnessed an Italian guy get mugged and he insisted the mob mugged him, those are my two favorites, I crack up whenever I hear Archie arguing with the Italian shoemaker, that cracks me up.
All in all this is to me perhaps the best show ever on television, if not definitely the best sitcom. This is classic stuff, the standard bearer for American comedy on television, if you have not seen it, you have absolutely no idea what you're missing. SEE IT!!
In my book, All in the Family wins the award for the best television show of the seventies. This show is very historic. It talks about politics and racism and the way things were in the seventies and somewhat teaches you what it was like back then and on top of that it was funny as Hell! Archie Bunker alone will be a character that will really go down in history. As the show went on you really saw how he also learned and not to be such a racist and you just saw him change. Edith wins as thee craziest TV housewife with her high voice and that shes always so happy and full of energy and a pleasure to be around, pretty much the opposite of Archie. You got to have the crazy kids too that are getting on there nerves, but in this case it was the other way around. I love this show and thank goodness TV Land shows the re-runs.
When this show premiered, the American television audience had never witnessed anything like it before!! Archie Bunker became a household word... His whole mindset was that of the straight and narrow philosophy which reflected the introductory song to this series "Those Were The Days"...."All in the Family" had a two pronged attack on realism in television programming which was acrimonious as well as groundbreaking!! First of all, this show pointed out how not every American was a spawn of lace curtain living!! Your average Joe lived in a very modest house, one similar to Achie Bunker's!! Secondly, the changing times of the sixties and seventies brought on mores of behavior that cultural conservatives such as Archie Bunker could not really deal with!! New York City brought on a bevy of cultural stereotypes who compounded Archie's difficulty to cope with a changing era!! The characters in "All in the Family" were all well fortified by firmly entrenched political viewpoints which evoked a compelling aura of ignorance and blissful stubbornness!! Eventually, each and every one of them became the recipients of political indiscretions just by virtue of the fact that they were victims of their own hypocrisy!! Archie (Carroll O'Connor) was the bigoted non-dimensional plebeian whom people viewed as irascible and not very easy to understand!! While Archie appeared very cantankerous and closed minded, he was not alone, and was far more common and run of the mill than most people would like to believe!! Edith (Jean Stapleton) his wife, was the simpleton whose good nature prevailed throughout one dose of modern philosophy and spousal rudeness after the next!! Mike (Rob Reiner) the confused and arrogant liberal, (He was my favorite character on the show!!) He thought solutions to real life problems could be attained in text books!! Finally, Gloria (Sally Struthers) was the whining and closely guarded daughter, who took in an egalitarian approach to different lifestyles, as a way of rebelling against her father!! The chemistry with the actors, and actresses and producers and directors of this show became a masterful blend of effective programming through a deliberately flawed and injured comedy!! Almost no other show was fully able to accomplish this!! "The Honeymooners" is about the only one I can think of off hand!! I saw an episode last night where Archie saved "a woman's" life by giving her mouth to mouth resuscitation, only to find out that this "woman" was a transvestite!! It was situations such as these that made this show so popular!! When issues about race, social adversity, sexual preferences and unusual lifestyles are taboo, they cultivate a precarious curiosity which the television audience has, and wants to satisfy!! The conundrum being: Why are these aspects of American culture so hush hush anyway!! "All in the Family" was more popular than almost any other T.V. Show in the history of television, and it was because it broke ground on purveying an accurate portrayal about so many social issues....When a sitcom like "All in the Family" has had so much success, your hat has to go off to it!! I feel that "All in the Family" has made assertive progress in establishing better television... This is not easy to do!!
This is definitely my favorite show and I am glad that there are re-runs on Nick-At-Nite. One of my favorite episodes is when Archie gets locked in the cellar and is finally "rescued" by a repair man, but Archie is drunk and he thinks that the repair man is god, little does know, that the repair man is black!(not that it matters, but to archie?!) And when he bows down to him and lifts his head to see his "god" the audience roared in laughter as did I. Sometimes I wish that this show was on now, (of course with all the stupid issues today, that would be close to impossible), but then again it wouldn't be as good as it was, with all of the "1970's issues" to make fun of and comment on....infact, I think that the issues of the day greatly helped make this show the hit it was, along with the superb acting of course.I hope this show remains on the air for a long time, because I could never get sick of watching All In the Family!
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
When All In The Family premiered in 1971 it took some chances. Remember
that the CBS lineup at the time included The Beverly Hillbillies,
Gunsmoke, and Green Acres - hardly the stuff of controversy.
Controversial "Laugh-In" had been racking up big ratings for a couple
of years, but second-rate NBC had nothing to lose by taking chances.
Besides broaching all of the controversial topics of the day - abortion, the Vietnam War, homosexuality, and race relations, the show dared to say something that was seldom said on stage or screen before - that bigotry and racism thrived north of the Mason Dixon line, and found particularly safe harbors in some of the urban areas of what is normally thought of as the heart of liberalism. In this case, the Bunker household is in Queens, New York.
The year is 1971, and before outsourcing is even a word, Archie Bunker is able to maintain a middle class lifestyle in New York City with a blue collar job and a stay-at-home wife, Edith. He will never be anything more than he is right then. Archie holds very conservative though not well thought out - or at least not well articulated - viewpoints. And then his 18 year old daughter Gloria marries a liberal. Mike is an atheist with a Polish Catholic background, and stands for everything Archie is against. The icing on the cake - he's a penniless student and he will be a guest in Archie's home for the next several years while he finishes the university degree that will enable him to look down on Archie forever afterwords. It's funny this last point is brought up only once, by the observant if subservient Edith, Archie's wife.
For a few seasons all was well, and then this show and MASH suffered a series of crushing blows - the Vietnam War ended, Nixon was disgraced, and the controversial views held by Archie's son-in-law Mike began to enter the mainstream. Thus the show had to come up with new angles to stay fresh, and it did that, even managing to negotiate the loss of three of the four main characters and a neighboring family that played an important supporting role, the African-American Jeffersons.
Today it looks somewhat tie-dyed, but it's still worth studying just to see mainstream viewpoints change before your eyes.
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