All in the Family (TV Series 1971–1979) Poster

(1971–1979)

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Too Bad It Couldn't Be Made Today
Brian Washington29 March 2003
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.
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Wow! What a great show
dtucker864 October 2003
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.
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Arguably the Most Important Television Series of All Time.
tfrizzell5 June 2004
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.
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The show that broke every television code in America
raysond28 August 2000
"All in the Family" may have been one brilliant show,but it was also one of 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.
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A Part of History
General_G15 October 2005
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.
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An excellent sitcom, POINT BLANK!
DeVille202018 August 2001
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!
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10/10
The First Version of Reality T.V.
dataconflossmoor26 July 2007
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!!
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10/10
"That man had charisma!" "I don't care if he was sick!"
Behold one of the most politically incorrect and yet uproarious sitcoms ever made. Here's the basic premise: bigoted AWG with a dutiful if slow-on-the-uptake wife lets his daughter and her far-far-far-*far*-left-wing husband live with them so he can finish school, and then the adventure begins! So, yes, Archie Bunker is a jerk. He's notorious for getting himself in way too deep in situations involving race, religion, orientation, and activism. His wife Edith serves as a naive voice of reason... usually to the annoyance of her husband. Daughter Gloria is proud of her husband Mike, to whom Archie always refers as "meathead" (dead from the neck up). And Archie can't move past the fact that Mike is Polish and liberal.

Adding other dimensions to the series are their neighbors, the Jeffersons (whose race frequently causes Archie to put himself in trouble with his ethnically-based comments), and, of course, among others, Cousin Maude-- Edith's no-nonsense cousin who shows up every so often just to push Archie's buttons. The writing is always fresh, the humor works nearly every time, and it's an absolute joy to see the cast at work-- the chemistry is perfect.

I really wish they could make a sitcom like this that actually works again.
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8/10
The beginning of modern TV and quite a gamble at the time
calvinnme3 March 2013
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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10/10
Archie, Meathead, Dingbat and Little Goil
Greatornot17 September 2009
The headline truly does say it all. You certainly did have ALL in this family. Conservative,uneducated bigot in Archie. Liberal smug college student in Mike,the son in law. Naive with her shining moments in Edith the housewife. Womens libber daughter Gloria. What a fun family. First 5 yrs impeccable. My 10 is based on those. Funny with clashes constantly. Bring in Lionel, the families young, black friend and you had full blown fits of laughter. As the show went on the feistiness and bluntness slowly seeped . The final season not even a shell of this wonderful show. Sometimes the show did get more serious after the initial 5 seasons. All in all this show was a microcosm and realistic picture of Americana in a working class mans home. Lots of humor eased tension on issues of the day, such as picketing,gun control, Vietnam,homosexuality,privacy rights, religion,political affiliation clash, race etc. Hmmm we have quite a few of these same issues today, go figure. In a nutshell, even though the show lost steam after the first 5 seasons, after the Stivics moved away from the Bunkers... It is still my favorite show of all time. In all fairness to AITF- I believe there must have been pressure to tone down due to political correctness rearing its ugly head= What a shame. Enjoy this show on DVD or TVLAND. At least the early seasons come out first on DVD.
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Goundbreaking in 1971
hillary13 September 2004
I remember watching first runs of this show as a young child. My mother hated it, because of "all the screaming." This was a very important show and the cast and crew are to be commended for taking on very important and pertinent social issues during an already turbulent time-race relations, abortion, gun violence, and violence against women were only a few of the topics broached in the long run of this program. This was also the first show on TV that suggested the characters actually had a sex life. As for the person who commented that the show portrayed only the good side of left wing politics, I submit that isn't true. Archie was presented as an ultra conservative, bigoted, over the top stereotype, (Carroll O'Connor's portrayal of him was brilliant, and a lot of today's GOP devotees have apparently intentionally modeled themselves after him) and Rob Reiner's Mike Stivic was an uptight, overeducated snob with no real direction. No flattering portrayals on either side. What it did expose was the ignorance permeating American society-interesting too that it was set in Queens, NY instead of the deep South-that you can still hear coming out of the mouths of the likes of Jerry Falwell and our own president, albeit the language has been prettied up. A great, very important, and not to mention HILARIOUS show!
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9/10
A Classic 70s Sitcom
hfan7721 March 2008
Even though it took three years and three pilots to get All in the Family on network TV, it has become one of the most classic 70s sitcoms as well as the show that broke the genteel world of comedies like Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver by featuring subjects that weren't explored on those shows. Subjects like bigotry, racism and menopause were controversial topics that were finally brought out of the closet and used as the basis for a number of episodes.

The four main actors, Carroll O'Connor as Archie, Jean Stapleton as Edith, Rob Reiner as Mike and Sally Struthers as Gloria had great chemistry but it was O'Connor's portrayal of Archie is what made the show a major hit after a slow start. His bigoted rants and numerous malaprops stood out and were very funny. Also, the many scenes with Archie and Mike clashing on a lot of subjects were also extremely funny, especially in the flashback episode where Archie met mike for the first time.

All in the Family's success paved the way for more shows with more controversial topics such as Maude and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Besides Maude, the show also had two other spinoffs, the hit sitcom The Jeffersons and the not so successful Gloria.

As the years went by, I felt the show jumped the shark when Archie became a lot mellower after buying Kelsey's Bar and when Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers left the show. The episode about Mike and Gloria leaving for California was one of the saddest sitcom episodes I ever saw but it remains a classic. Mike and Gloria leaving also lost most of the show's edge since the Archie-Mike conflict was one of the show's centerpieces. Another shark jump was the addition of Edith's niece Stephanie, another example of a sitcom adding another kid.

All in the Family, despite all the racial slurs was one of my all-time sitcom favorites. There well never be another show like it.
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Dated but in some ways, not what you would expect
sychonic29 June 2000
Norman Lear obviously conceived of and intended "All In The Family" to be an ongoing left wing condemnation of America's problems as he perceived them, the list is pretty standard liberal rhetoric: Racism, sexism, classism, Imperialism, blah blah blah. The problem he ran into at the time was that Archie, designed to be a mean spirited bigot, instantly became a working class hero to millions of people. He was the "lovable bigot" as he so often was and still is referred to. As the series fades and becomes dated, the suberbly nuanced acting of Caroll O'Connor continues on and cements the character of Archie as a real human being--with both flaws and virtues.

If one watches the show over time, and I can still remember when it first began, one realizes that Archie is a lot more than just some cardboard bigot. The character dropped out of high school to support his family after his father died. His family grew up poor during the depression, not much hope and not much opportunity. He labors with his hands all week at a loading dock and sees the world changing around him, and hears society accusing him of being the villain because he loves his country and believes in family and God. He's comically set in his ways--one should always put the toilet paper so the paper hangs away from the wall rather than toward it; one absolutely must put both socks on before putting shoes on--almost a moral imperative. And he loves his wife and daughter, provides a stable home, never got divorced and ultimately managed to buy a little business of his own and prosper. He was ignorant, yes, but not evil.

Compare that to Mike, perpetually in school, hopelessly egotistical, highly educated yet lacking in common sense. He sponges off of Archie all the while attacking him and the things he believes. Remember the scene where he needlessly rankles Archie by declaring that the "Star Spangled Banner" is a "stupid song" because one word "yet" covers two musical notes and hence is pronounced "ye-et". This is what college and graduate school get him? Mike ultimately gets a divorce from Gloria who has to care for her child alone, becomes a radical university professor and participates in Nuclear power protests in the nude--an altogether nauseating character.

The series portrays a clash of values, characters and generations, made even more interesting since the younger generation coming after Stivic's ended up idolizing conservative Ronald Reagan and creating a new entrepeneurial economy. Even liberalism seems to have repudiated peacenik Stivic, with a left leaning President embracing dictatorships and bombing countries on a regular basis.

All In The Family as a whole is dated--it is an interesting look at the mentality of the 1970's. The only thing that remains fresh are the characters rather than the issues they argue about. And comparing the complexities of the characters, Archie's qualities, despite all his faults, are a good deal better than his egotistical and self serving daughter and son-in-law.
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Disgusting Elitist Propaganda
roninf5-114 January 2006
Now I know why they call TV shows 'programming'. Archie Bunker, whose picture is next to the word straw man in the dictionary, espouses the traditional, conservative world view held by the vast majority of America's working and middle class. He is also an ignorant, inarticulate, inconsiderate, buffoon. Whenever Archie gets into a heated political discussion with 'Meathead' or whomever, he cannot make any kind of coherent argument based on facts, logic, or history. He just states the conservative position in his stumbling phraseology, his college educated and urbane son-in-law retorts with high-sounding rhetoric and then Archie resorts to childish name calling and bullying. The intended effect of course, is for the unsuspecting audience to associate Archie's ill-mannered buffoonery with conservatism and then to believe that anyone who has conservative values is likewise an uneducated, bigoted, fool who can't back up what he believes. Archie Bunker is as damaging to conservatism as Bu$h and Rush Windbag. (Who are about as conservative as the Clintoons and frankenKerry.) This show is called 'edgy' and 'groundbreaking' when all its social commentary is actually 100% politically correct, totally in line with the Elitist mindset.
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9/10
Peerless
tupungato24 March 2009
Whenever I notice that a channel is presenting reruns of All In The Family, I make sure to watch. I usually still find the stories enjoyable -- even if once in awhile a dialog seems dated - - and I still laugh out loud during scenes I may have seen 8-10 times over the last 35+ years. To me All In The Family continues to stand out amongst situation comedies, and amongst most television shows for that matter.

All in The Family did have its faults, however. The shouting that so often took place between characters, especially between Mike and Archie, got tiresome, as did Edith's trotting to and from the kitchen. A change in a more fundamental aspect of the show, however, really began to make to make the show less appealing after the first 3-4 seasons.

All new ideas eventually become old, and I may have begun losing interest as the controversial themes that made All In The Family such a revolutionary program started to lose their impact. Looking back, though, I recall that I also began to feel differently about All In The Family because I noticed that Archie Bunker was changing.

Whether later scripts were requiring Archie Bunker to alter his style, or Carrol O'Conner could no longer call forth the same volatile temper and caustic sarcasm that marked the character he played so well, I remember seeing Archie Bunker become an irritable, whiny, elderly-looking man, who overreacted like a hypochondriac to stubbed toes and bumped heads. The same man who had entertained by mispronouncing and misusing words and names was apparently trying to do the same by mismanaging his own body.

For the most part, All In The Family included characters that were very well conceived. They did represent social types, true, but a viewer could not always predict their behavior. Though Archie Bunker, for example, tended to dominate discussions, despite his illogical reasoning, with his chauvinistic attitudes and feelings of indignation, he did on occasion have something valid to say.

Similarly, while in most episodes the subservient Edith catered to Archie's wants and demands, or made comments that exuded naivety, she did assert herself now and then, demonstrating a social kind of intelligence lacking in her husband. Son-in-law Mike could surprise the viewer, too. Although he usually adamantly advocated the counterculture ideology typical of college students of the early 70's, his arguments revealed a sexist core whenever he had to confront the issue of women's rights.

One could not consider family friend Lionel Jefferson simple or one-dimensional either. He almost never agreed with Archie and did not approve of his bigotry, but he recognized the limits of Archie's experience and intellect, so instead of allowing himself to enter into power struggles with Archie, Lionel spoofed Archie's opinions and made him look all the more foolish in the process.

Sometimes I have wondered if the popularity of simpler, light-hearted shows, such as Happy Days and Three's Company, influenced All In The Family's writers, since episodes after the first few seasons seemed to include an element of silliness or broad comedy. Whatever the direction that they consciously took the show, it succeeded because the members of its cast performed as if from a higher league.
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9/10
Truly one of the best shows ever created
buddhadan-110 September 2006
There is another poster on here who pretty much got it right with everything they said, so I'm not going to repeat.

I will say that I grew up watching this show (a little before my time, but it was still on when I was growing up) and I recall, as a child, not really enjoying it to it's fullest potential.

I watched it a lot with my mother or my grandmother and of course I was trying to bond with family, so I would laugh when I thought it was appropriate (sometimes just me, sometimes laughing because family was laughing) and other times I would be bored.

Since that time, I've had an opportunity to grow quite a bit, and not only in size and age, but also in my ability to appreciate true works of art.

This show is one of those works of art, handling issues that even for today still exist to some degree or other. Back when this show was first airing, they were probably the most controversial show on the air and I would think that they deserve a large amount of the credit for helping to enlighten society in a great number of ways.

None of the characters were as simple or 1 dimensional as they first appear, and after watching a few episodes, you'll see that.

If you are ever in need of entertainment and enlightenment from television, start here, you will not be disappointed.
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10/10
All in the Family- "The Greatest Show In Television History"
jrm23july@aol.com8 January 2006
Norman Lear's "All In The Family" is the best, TV's greatest sitcom, and the greatest show in the sixty year history of television. This show beats out "I Love Lucy", "The Honeymooners", "Father Knows Best", "Burns and Allen", "The Cosby Show", and yes, "Seinfeld". And those are only the sitcoms that take a back seat to "All In The Family".

"All In The Family" was a groundbreaking sitcom, an original, that brought to the forefront many of the problems in society in the 1970's, most of which still exist today. Ageism, racism, sexism, nuclear disarmament, Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War, and even homophobia were deeply examined in this groundbreaking sitcom, as television was no longer relegated to the good old days of perfect nuclear family television. i.e. "Father Knows Best", "Make Room For Daddy","The Donna Reed Show" and yes, "The Brady Bunch".

Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) is a hard working, lower middle class average Joe, with a loud mouth and silly bigoted views. Many people label Archie as a racist, but he didn't really meet the profile of a true racist. He would never join the KKK, although in a later episode his foolishness nearly got him unwillingly initiated into the group.

Archie is not a true racist because he doesn't have a mean streak. Yes he'll make fun of blacks, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, Hungarians, and gays, but they're always guests in his little home on 704 Hauser Street in Flushing, Queens.

Archie doesn't hate, he fears. He has just enough financial resources to support "the dingbat", his slow witted but honest and kind wife Edith, his "little goil", spunky and feminist daughter Gloria, and "the meathead", his educated, rabble rousing and ultra liberal son-in-law Mike Stivic.

Mike "The meathead" Stivic (Rob Reiner) is highly educated but doesn't often use good common sense, or social smarts. Archie supports him with food, shelter, and entertainment, pays his way through college, lets him have sex with his daughter Gloria up in their bedroom, and even bails "the meathead" out of trouble a few times. And all Meathead does is chastise Archie for his vices (ultra-right wing and racist views), never commends him for his virtues (the fact that "Meathead couldn't survive if Archie didn't work to support him.) He starts so many silly arguments with Archie like the "Star Spangled Banner" and even uses Archie's telephone to call the Fair Housing Commision to get Archie into trouble for circulating a petition to keep blacks and Puerto Ricans out of the neighborhood.

Archie's wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) with her "straight from the dingbat" comment of "I don't think you should go where angels fear to tread", meaning to mind your own business. Meathead should mind his own business. Yes, Archie shouldn't be circulating a petition to keep undesirables out of the neighborhood, nor should he bad mouth blacks, Puerto Ricans, Asians, Jews, etc. But that doesn't make it educated college boy's business to interfere with Archie's. If Mike would assert himself more intelligently with Archie instead of all of these silly arguments, there would be less tension in the Bunker household. But unfortunately, "All In The Family" then wouldn't have been the great situation comedy that it was.

If you have to pick the smartest person in the Bunker household, your first pick would probably be Mike "Meathead" Stivic or his wife and Archie's daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers), because they are the most worldly and racially tolerant. However the true brain of the Bunker household is really Edith. She likes people and she knows how to get along with everyone. No one but occasionally Archie gets angry with Edith, because she is tolerant, kind, honest, and considerate. However, sometimes she's too honest and this drives Archie batty.

There is a self-defense technique called jujitsu in which you throw people in the way they are already headed. Edith unconsciously uses this technique against Archie. He'll make some wild racial slur to get the CBS studio audience balling with laughter, and then Edith will top him with some dingbatty punchline. Normally she's slow witted but often she gets the better word on Archie.

For example: Archie: "In my day there was nothing, I mean nothing until the wedding night." Edith: "Even Then." Archie: "You have the nerve, Michael Stivic Meathead, to write a letter to the president about your rash!" Edith: "Maybe he knows a good skin man." Then there was the episode when Archie's niece Linda was dating Lionel, his black neighbor and friend. Edith is frantically trying to hide the portrait of Linda and Lionel together. Edith out dingbats herself. Archie sees the picture and goes ballistic.

One of the funniest episodes was "Edith's Problem" when she's going through menopause, is flipping out and turns on Archie. She orders him to "Stifle", like he's told her to do hundreds of times.

I have one more thing to add about "All In The Family". I have worked in many warehouse/ loading dock jobs like Archie does. And from this great sitcom, I never heard the terms, "pallet", "pallet jack", "skinny", "skid", or "conveyor belt". What I mean is that even even on this great show, work is like non-existent. That is the problem with television. I would have liked to learn more about Archie's work, not just his blatantly outspoken, bigoted personality.

However, "All in the Family" had very few flaws, was somewhat educational, and had wall-to-wall laughter. I encourage everyone, especially a new generation who wasn't born until after the 1970's, to buy these great DVD sets of "All In The Family" seasons one through four. Carroll O' Connor as Archie Bunker was a one-of-a kind talent. "All In The Family" now shown on TV Land was the best program ever put on television.
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6/10
I thought it was just OK.
lois-lane333 October 2015
I must have seen some of the earlier seasons but I cannot remember them. I recently watched several of the later seasons just to see what it was like to see those later episodes again. I had a mixed reaction to it. A lot of people think that Jean Stapleton's acting was excellent-and maybe it was-but I found her character hard going at times-especially when the show went from heavy dramatic moment to light comedic moment rapidly. It is like a blasphemy to some people if they hear criticism of the show which is too bad because there are a lot of different elements in this show and I think that some elements work better than others. There are no interactions with Mikes family-sort of like he fell from space. That might sound like splitting hairs but I think if it was real life there would be at least discussion of that subject. Kind of a comedy-kind of tragicomedy. Too many people put the 1970's on a pedestal when it was just ordinary in terms of what it was like to live through it-in my opinion. Maybe I am just not best critic.
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10/10
All in the Family-Bigotry Was Never Better than This ****
edwagreen21 September 2007
A show that brought out the stupidity of bigotry by showing how crazy it could really be.

Carroll O'Connor's Archie Bunker epitomized such bigotry. Archie would let all the groups have it equally. You could never say that he was for one specific group.With his extremely liberal son-in-law, Rob Reiner, the conflicts between the two were absolutely memorable.

As the long suffering, naive wife, Jean Stapleton added plenty of humor with those sardonic looks. When Archie said that the Hebs tended to name their sons Abe, Edith replied,"I didn't know that Lincoln was Jewish!"

Remember the beginning theme song that had to be done over since the line: Gee,our old LaSalle ran great could not be readily understood.

Pity poor Sally Struthers, the daughter of Archie and Edith who was wed to the Meathead Reiner. She had to walk a fine line from her ultra Conservative father and liberal father. Remember her hair-do? She looked like Orphan Annie.

Richard Nixon being president at the time certainly added the necessary ingredients for this show to succeed. Could the show have worked well had Ike been in the White House? You have to wonder about that one.

What memories with Sammy Davis Jr., the Ku Klux Klan, Frank and Irene Lorenzo, the Jeffersons, Cousin Maude. Those certainly were the days.
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10/10
Best of TV sitcoms
orangetrucker14 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Archie Bunker was obnoxious, arrogant, narrow-minded, bigoted, mean, mouthy, opinionated, and just downright rude and uncouth, but one thing....... Ya gotta love the guy! Now I'm not much of a TV fan, but All in the Family is definitely in the top bracket for me. Hands down, my favorite TV sitcom. Norman Lear was no doubt taking a big chance on this one when he created it, considering the time in which it was made. But it was absolutely brilliant! Fantastic TV show, and even after 30 some-odd years it's stood the test of time, because it was so good. It would be very hard for me if my father-in-law constantly called me meat-head. Boy that would drive me crazy!

Anyone who hasn't seen it, highly recommended.
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the show that changed TV
Lee Eisenberg9 April 2005
Most of us have probably heard about how "All in the Family" was a show unlike any previous show. Well, you have to see it to believe it. Archie Bunker is a bigoted, working-class stiff who comes home each day, sits in front of the TV and calls his wife Edith a "dingbat" (he pronounces her first name "ee-dit"). Sparks fly when daughter Gloria marries long-haired political activist Michael Stivic. Archie immediately takes a hating to this "Polack" and calls him "meathead". So, throughout the series, Archie goes around making derogatory comments about blacks, Jews and other minorities, all the while personifying the generation gap of the era. Some of the funniest parts are when Archie tries to make a "point" about something: he only succeeds in mangling famous idioms.

"All in" all, "AITF" was truly the first show to be open about American society. And it all rings true to this day: Archie Bunker is every Bubba out there. And yet, we can't help but admire him.
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10/10
AITF is to TV what the Beatles were to rock music!
Drewboy-213 September 2004
Total change - that's the only way to describe it. I remember sitting in the living room with my parents and my aunt and uncle (who in many ways reminded me of Archie Bunker) and we watched history being made on the night of January 11, 1971. It reminded me of watching "The Ed Sullivan Show" on February 8, 1964. My mother went "oooh" when Archie used his first slur, then put her hand over her mouth. I never thought they'd watch it again, but sure enough their curiosity overcame them and next week they watched again, and again. Total classic TV, broke the way for all that was to follow! Within 18 months, the last of the older-style sitcoms that were on from the 1960's (Bewitched, My Three Sons) would go off the air, to be replaced by groundbreaking Norman Lear shows such as Maude, Good Times, etc. Finally TV caught up to the times, as music had seven years earlier!
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It couldn't air today.
shelly-3114 March 2002
It couldn't air today as a new show. Like the show or not, our culture of genteel victims would gasp and hand over our freedom of expression(speech) rather than be exposed to such unpleasantries...even if all they had to do was change the channel.
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