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>
Gavin MacLeod read for the part of Archie, but did so reluctantly. He was personally opposed to bigotry of all kinds, and felt the subject matter was inappropriate in a comedic format. He also said at the time of his audition that he knew that Norman Lear had always been set on casting Carroll O'Connor for the role. See more »
The house in the opening credits (that is presumably supposed to be Archie and Edith Bunker's house) does not come anywhere near matching the studio sets that represent the house in the show. For example, window placement and size is completely wrong, and the sets depict the house as having a large front porch whereas, the house in the credits has only a small stoop. See more »
The beginning of modern TV and quite a gamble at the time
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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