All in the Family

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All in the Family was a popular liberal situation-comedy which aired on CBS from 1971 until 1979, created by left-wing producer Norman Lear, and starring the late actor Carrol O'Connor as Archie Bunker. It also starred Jean Stapleton as Archie's wife, Edith, Sally Struthers as their daughter, Gloria, and Rob Reiner as the liberal son-in-law Mike Stivic. The show's storylines featured Archie, inaccurately portrayed by Lear as a conservative bigot, engaging in constant arguments and debates with Mike (nicknamed "Meathead" by Archie), most especially regarding Archie's racist tendencies and stereotypes (depicted according to Lear's viewpoint). It was an adaptation of the British BBC sit-com Till Death Us Do Part, of which Lear was a fan.

All in the Family was notable at the time of its airing for being the first show to feature controversial storylines focused on the political themes of racism, homosexuality, abortion and feminism, among other topics, on mainstream American television. This reflects the time period during the early 1970s, during which Hollywood's sharp turn to radical left-wing political themes in both film and television during the era of the Vietnam War saw a shift from conservative TV shows featuring strong moral and family values (such as westerns like Bonanza and The Rifleman) towards liberal urban-set dramas and sitcoms, which also included Maude, The Jeffersons and Good Times (also created by Norman Lear).

While All in the Family is today considered to be a "groundbreaking" show in the history of television by the liberal media, it is also viewed by conservatives as a glaring reminder of Hollywood's sharp turn to the Left during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Despite its promoting liberal values, however, the Politically Incorrect Guide to the 1960s mentioned that audiences looked up to Archie Bunker largely because of his stubborn rejection of the counterculture, and his chair was even included as one of the most famous exhibits in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.[1]

Notes and references

  1. The Politically Incorrect Guide to the 1960s by Johnathan Leaf, page 97.
    Those Were the Days.
    The show most people associate with the clash between the sixties counterculture and the older generation, All in the Family, did not premier until 1971. It is hailed by liberals today as a ground-breaking sitcom that "pushed the envelope" of acceptable fare for TV. In all the praise, however, it's forgotten that what made the show so beloved was the popularity of its main character, Archie Bunker. Although the character was supposed to be an unenlightened, illogical bigot, he became a hero to millions of Americans for his stubborn rejection of the counterculture. It is Archie Bunker's chair that has become one of the most famous exhibits in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Meanwhile, Bunker's counterculture antagonist is now mostly remembered for the derisive nickname Archie gave him: Meathead.

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