It’s All In The Family

Archie lecturing Edith

Archie lecturing Edith

My sister-in-law sent me a segment from the old television show All In The Family. While I wasn’t too happy about the negative portrayal of Archie’s partner’s Jewish mother, watching the show made me remember how groundbreaking the program was in its day.

Developed by Norman Lear, All In The Family, premiered on Jan. 12, 1971 about a working-class Queens family: Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), his simple wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton), his daughter, Gloria (Sally Struthers), and his liberal son-in-law, Mike Meathead Stivic (Rob Reiner). It created new territory from the typical 60s sitcom because of its humorous discussion of private subjects such as war, religion, drugs, gun control, sex, sexism, gay rights, race relations, immigration, taxation and the environment.

The specifics have changed since 1971 but Archie Bunker is talking about hot-button topics that all have modern equivalents. Want to talk about gun control, look at Archie’s TV editorial. Interested in becoming a vegetarian? Check out Archie’s biblical references for the reason not to do it. Want to understand the illogic of prejudice? Archie explains it perfectly. Archie can even explain the wrongs of our democracy as if it were today.

Edith and Archie

Edith and Archie

“If your spics and your spades want their rightful share of the American dream, let ’em get out there and hustle for it, like I done,” Archie groused to Mike, who was agitating about civil rights yet again.

“So now you’re going to tell me the black man has just as must chance as the white man to get a job?” Mike demands.

“More,” Archie says. “He has more. I didn’t have no million people marchin’ and protestin’ to get me my job.”

“No,” Edith interrupts. “His uncle got it for him.”

Forget all those silly empty reality shows of today. Join The All In The Family Facebook Page, watch the episodes on television and utube and visit Archie’s fabled chair that sits alongside Edith’s with the table that rested between them in The Smithsonian Institution and you will understand why All In The Family will always be an American Institution.

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