In such a tumultuous time when the world seems so polarized with current politics and social issues, it may be time to re-watch Norman Lear’s ground breaking sitcom from the 1970’s “All in the Family”. While having a couple drinks at one of my favorite haunts tonight, we grabbed a box of Trivial Pursuit “Baby Boomers Edition” and started asking each other questions. When a question about All in the Family came up it got me thinking about our current world where we deal with issues like Brexit, a Donald Trump Presidency, abortion, the destruction of Native lands, Black Lives Matter, immigration, and refugees in a new digital age. It seems new and scary yet the same old broken record in a way.
Lear’s “Family” had it all. The angry father so set in his ways that he didn’t understand the youth of the day and their rebellious movements. His bleeding heart daughter with her “Meathead” husband and his liberal ideals. Not to mention his empathetic wife that while seeming meek, held them all together.
This show was so revolutionary no network would put it on by today’s standards! What was that?...oh they play it in re-runs on TV Land? Okay…I hear you, but that is hardly a major network that aired controversial content on a prime time schedule when television was comprised of basically THREE CHANNELS! It almost seems tame by today’s world so who cares right? See that’s the thing. This show tackled racism, bigotry, classism, war, homophobia, sexism, anti-Semitism, and even rape. It did all of this in the confines of a comedy that is brilliant, yet maddening. It told us we don’t have to be afraid of each other, because we are all humans after all. We just come from different lands, speak different languages, believe different things, and look different, but we are not that different.
Archie Bunker learned these life lessons almost every week in the most brilliant and humorous way. Much like great novels of the past I fear if we don’t learn these lessons we are doomed to repeat his (our) mistakes.
Look I know this is just a TV comedy and maybe I’m waxing nostalgic, but in a time like now I feel this show is of upmost importance. From the opening “Those were the Days” till the ending credits you see the folly of a man so stuck in his ways, and is afraid of his world changing around him. The lesson hopefully is sometimes change can be good so let your guard down a little, and every once in a while we all need a good laugh.