All in the Family broke all the rules on television. The series thumbed its nose at the idea that TV should only show a cleaned-up version of upper-class families. More than any other sitcom at the time, it held a mirror up to everyday American life. Some found Archie Bunker offensive. On the other hand, some saw him as a rallying point. Either way, he was America’s lovable bigot. He wasn’t at all shy about his narrow-minded worldview. In fact, he defended that outlook on a weekly basis.
Archie and Mike’s near-constant political screaming matches were one of the most memorable parts of the sitcom. Back in January, Sally Struthers and Norman Lear talked to The New York Post about the show. During that interview, Struthers compared Archie and Mike’s arguments on All in the Family to current political discourse in America.
Sally Struthers Says All in the Family‘s Arguments Still Raging Today
The arguments on All in the Family came from a very simple place. Archie Bunker was a right-leaning bigot. He frequently tossed around racial slurs. It didn’t stop there, though. It seemed that Archie subscribed to every kind of xenophobic bigotry available. On the other hand, his son-in-law Mike Stivic was a liberal idealist. In the parlance of the twenty-first century, Mike was a social justice warrior. Neither of the men were shy about their beliefs. The two were bound by Mike and Gloria’s marriage but they mixed like oil and water.
Gloria, played by Sally Struthers, usually found herself playing referee to her husband and father on All in the Family. So, Struthers saw just about every one of those political screaming matches first-hand. Looking back on those heated discussions, Struthers said that they prove that nothing has changed in the fifty years since the show first aired. She told the Post that if you took the audio from one of Mike and Archie’s arguments, changed the names of political figures, and played it back, they would feel current.
We like to look back on the past as a time when political discourse was a little tamer. Over the past few years, many people have longed for the “good old days” when people had civil discussions. All in the Family proves those folks wrong. Half a century ago, people were having screaming matches in the living room or at the dining room table. Political policies and opinions about them have long been the fuel for fiery arguments.
The truth is, fifty years from now, All in the Family will probably still hold up. At the very least, the arguments will still feel current. The only way to change that is if both sides of the argument take some advice from Archie Bunker and stifle it.