‘All in the Family’ Creator Norman Lear Doesn’t Like to Reminisce on the Past

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

Norman Lear doesn’t have time to live in the past, so the All in the Family creator just does not do it and keeps on working.

Lear, 99, talked about this during an interview with NPR.

“Two little words we don’t pay enough attention to: over and next,” Lear said. “When something is over, it is over and we are on to next. And I like to think about the hammock in the middle of those two words. That’s living in the moment.

“That’s the moment I believe I’m living as I complete this sentence,” he said. “And it couldn’t be more important to me.”

‘All in the Family’ Hit Television Screens Across America 50 Years Ago On CBS

It’s been 50 years since Archie, Edith, Gloria, and Mike entered American households on CBS. All in the Family discussed social issues of that day through at least two filters: the conservative Bunker and the liberal Stivic. Carroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers, and Rob Reiner made up the All in the Family cast.

Lear is not one to shy away from handling topics that had not been in TV shows, much less sitcoms. Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons, and One Day at a Time are just some of his shows.

But Lear is still working these days. In recent years, he’s brought All in the Family and The Jeffersons back in live television events on ABC. Both shows had new casts with Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei playing Archie and Edith; Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes playing George and Louise Jefferson.

And who originally played George and “Weesie”? Of course, it was Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford.

Jimmy Kimmel also played a part in bringing these sitcoms back to primetime TV.

Lear Knows All Too Well About Facing Critics’ Wrath Over His Work

When someone like Norman Lear creates shows that go against the grain, criticism is going to roll out a red carpet.

How does he handle those critics?

“Late Night with Seth Meyers” host Seth Meyers asked Lear about them.

“[All in the Family] was not universally loved by critics when it came out […] Do you remember why people didn’t like it right out of the gate?” he asked Lear.

Lear said, “[They] didn’t understand the reason for a bigot as the center of a show.” Meaning Archie Bunker, who would make remarks about different ethnicities and the government. Yet Archie had a softer side, especially when it came to Edith.

Now Norman Lear tells Meyers about a critic who smacked the show right down in The New York Times. Then, that critic penned another review pulling down her previous comments. She said she “understood the show better.”