‘All in the Family’ Originally Went By a Different Name

by Matthew Wilson
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“All in the Family” entertained audiences with the antics of Archie Bunker for nine seasons on the air. But originally the sitcom almost went by a different name.

The original name for the pilot episode was “And Justice for All.”

That title frankly didn’t do justice to Bunker and his clan. That name sounded like it was a title for a court drama or an old-fashioned version of “Law and Order” or something. It certainly didn’t sound like an appropriate title for a family drama. In fairness, the family’s original last name was Justice. Archie Justice just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

ABC passed on the pilot for “And Justice for All,” and the show was retooled into “All in the Family” that audiences love until this day. But going back even further, the show was based on a British sitcom called “Till Death Us Do Part.”

Norman Lear, one of the great pioneers of the American sitcom, partnered with Bud Yorkin to produce an Americanized version of the British show. The country had better get ready for Archie Bunker. The character was unlike any other on television. And “All in the Family” was unlike any other sitcom for its time. It helped revolutionize TV as a whole.

‘All in the Family’ Becomes a Success

The sitcom followed an ordinary family in Astoria, Queens. But unlike other families of the time, the Bunkers were dysfunctional and didn’t always get along. Archie Bunker had a creative use of language and plenty of insults for the rest of his family. For instance, he loved to call his son-in-law “Meathead” as both a nickname and also a jab.

Additionally, the show covered weighty topics that didn’t always have clear answers. The show covered things like racism, abortion, women’s rights, politics, and thoughts on war as well. The network even decided to run the show with a disclaimer at the time, least it shock unprepared audiences.

The show first aired in 1971 as networks looked for more urban programming. Initially, audiences didn’t show up to watch the Bunkers. “All in the Family” hovered just above cancelation, ratings-wise. But critically, the show was a smash hit. With awards and recognition, the sitcom quickly found an audience base after its first season.

Audiences connected with the Bunkers and their realism. The show became the No.1 rated series for five consecutive years.

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