‘All in the Family’: Why One Star Said Cast Believed Show Would Be ‘Special,’ But Not Successful

by Quentin Blount
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When it came to the popular 1970s sitcom All in the Family, not everyone knew just how successful the show would end up becoming. At least that’s what actor Robert Reiner had to say back in a sit-down interview in 1986.

As an actor, Reiner first rose to prominence on the national stage thanks to his role of Michael Stivic on the CBS show. While playing the part, Reiner went on to earn himself two Primetime Emmy Awards.

However, Reiner said that he wasn’t sure the series would ever become as popular as it did. He knew that he and the rest of the cast were onto something special, though.

‘The first year we thought we were doing something special, but we never thought we were going to be a hit,” Reiner explained. “And we weren`t until they re-ran the first 12 episodes during the summer. That`s when the big ratings and the publicity started.”

After re-running the first season of episodes, Reiner says the show took off. And in more ways than one. He says that everyone was having more fun on the set after getting a taste of the big time.

”The second year was great fun because we all tasted the joy of success,” Reiner continued. “We were on the covers of every magazine. And it looked like we were going to be making lots of money.”

And contrary to Reiner’s initial thoughts, his time on All in the Family was just the beginning of a long, successful run in the television and film industry. Robert Reiner pursued a career in film following his tenure on the hit show. He even directed movies such as Stand by Me, When Harry Met Sally, and A Few Good Men.

‘All in the Family’ Was Both Special and Successful

There’s little doubt that the cast and crew of All in the Family were way ahead of their time. The show was based on the British sitcom Till Death Us Do Part. That’s not to be confused with the film ‘Til Death Do Us Part.

However, the show was groundbreaking in many ways. They touched on subjects that were previously considered unsuitable for television such as racism, antisemitism, homosexuality, women’s liberation, and more.

With so many polarizing issues at hand, it’s easy to understand Reiner’s train of thought. That being that they were doing “special” work but were unsure if that would translate into success. But as it would turn out, All in the Family would go on to become one of the greatest television series in all of history.

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