Much is made about how groundbreaking All in the Family was a half century ago. Controversial, but arguably necessary for society to see bigotry portrayed in that manner at the time.
I assume most here had at least one family member that back in the day that simply could not comprehend that Archie Bunker was a satirical portrayal…yeah, what’s so funny about this show? That Archie guy is just telling it like it is
Creator, Norman Lear, has said in recent years that he couldn’t make that show nowadays. Do you agree? What is different today that would make a show like All in the Family unworkable as modern entertainment?
One thing that’s different is the strength of social media. I suspect that the networks would be leery of running a show with an openly bigoted, intolerant character (even one who was being played for satire), because they would be afraid of backlash on social media from featuring such a character on one of their shows.
Even though many people might “get it” (i.e., understand that the Archie character was being used to point out the bigotry which still existed in society), I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were people who felt that inclusion of such a character was still giving a voice to that bigotry, and would demand that it be shut down.
Right, this is explicitly stating what I think @kenobi_65 was also saying. Sadly, this is the world we live in today – that what was groundbreaking and edgy but possible in the 70s would likely not be possible today, particularly not on broadcast television. Even if the network was OK with it, it would be tough to get sponsors. I recall Bill Maher getting into a whole lot of trouble on his HBO cable show (which has no commercial sponsors) for a casual throw-away line that was a racially-based joke – a show where the f-word and general profanity is used freely. HBO had to issue a statement of disapproval and Maher had to meekly apologize.
But would a 2022 Archie pipe up and say “is it true about the white man | — | versus the black man | --------------- |”? I doubt that would fly anymore. (“They said you was hung!” “And they was right!”)
Another thing that’s different is that it’s been half a century.
In the 1970s, racism was still quite common, and even unremarkable. Sure, the 50s and 60s suggested to some of us that we should maybe fix things, but for a lot of people, those lessons just hadn’t sunk in.
One of the premises of shows like All in the Family, that portrayed the contemporary reality of racist and bigoted opinions, was that by showing them in a bad light, people would be influenced to change their ways, after a “Whoa! I sound just like the stupid racist character!” moment of self-reflection.
50ish years on, I’m pretty sure we can conclude that people just don’t react that way. It’s like Trickle Down Economics. It sounded good at first, but history has proven it doesn’t work.
But nowadays I’d not be surprised to see about 30% of the US interpret a rebooted Archie character as “telling it like it is”, and giving them “permission” to act the same way. You know: the way they totally believe things were until very recently and ought to be once again. Even if it was played played for satire, that would go over their heads.
No , no Norman Lear could not make AitF now. Because he’d add fuel to the out-and-proud-racists fire burning in a large fraction of this country. And that would be antithetical to his goals in making it the first time.
Granted, it’s a cartoon versus a live performance, but South Park can be as surprisingly offensive as anything out there right now. It’s also not being broadcast on any of the major networks, but still, a show like that you would think would be cancelled (or “cancelled”, in the parlance of our times) - but no, it is as popular as ever.
I think there could be room on TV for a character like Archie Bunker, but it would have to tread carefully and have good/great writing, and supported by the right actor. Somehow Archie was known as a bigot, but with the right writing and the right performance, he was also seen sympathetically back then. It could be done again with the right circumstances.
I lived in Pennsylvania, suburbs of Philadelphia, during the early 70s. I was in elementary school. Looking back on it, the racism there was astounding. The N-word was not just heard, it was in constant, common use.
Is that what is really happening? L&O aired at 10pm originally, and episodes that were almost immediately in syndication were censored because there are, or at least, were, words that could be said only after the children’s hour, and had to be excised from the episodes edited for syndication that could run in the morning or afternoon.
I think some of the goal of AitF was to show that bigotry was harmful to the bigot. Archie lost opportunities due to his narrowmindedness. His life was just sitting in his shabby chair, disconnected from his family and from finding any humanity. My ex father in law was an Archie. From what I recall, he detested that program, perhaps seeing too much of himself in that character. He also sat in an old recliner, weighing forth about nothing anyone cared to hear. He has been in his grave for many years, and from all appearances, his descendants are more enlightened. Certainly my kids are, (his grandkids).
Jeez, Archie could be all weird about groomer K12 teachers, LGBTQ pronouns and drag queens, and the Crisis at the Border. Things to be paranoid about never end. Archie would be angry as hell, Meathead would wear tactical armor.
F is for Family also mines some humour out of living in a more politically incorrect time, but it’s not a broadcast TV show either and it doesn’t toss around outright slurs like “coon” or “hebe” the way Archie Bunker would.