Norman Lear read an article in Variety magazine about a cutting edge British Sit-Com, Till Death Us Do Part and it reminded him of his relationship with his father. (Episodes of Till Death Us Do Part can be found on YouTube.) His father once called him the laziest White man he has ever seen. I kind of get that feeling he never got over that insult.
Lear was not born in New York city but New Haven, Connecticut in 1922. His mother was born in the Ukraine, and his father was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. His father was a traveling sales man who got convicted of selling phony bonds when Norman was only 9, serving 3 years in prison. Needless to say it was quite embarrassing to him. He always referred to his father as a rascal.
According to family lore, his mother dropped him on his head when he was 3 months old, while bathing him in the kitchen sink. Frightened she fled to her neighbor while she left him there on the floor crying, over the years it seemed increasingly funny to her.
Like many a young man at the time, he joined the armed forces after Pearl Harbor, enlisting like Archie into the U.S. Army Air Corps (which later became the U.S. Air Force). The whole story can be found at Wikipedia, now back to the Bunker household.
Edith Bunker was modeled after his mother. I don't recall any mention of Edith dropping Gloria when she was 3 months old.
Archie was modeled after Lear's dear old dad though Carroll O'Connor was modeling him after Ralph Kramden of the Honeymooners, who was in turn modeled after Oliver Hardy. It was said that Fred Flinstone was modeled after Ralph Kramden but that's another story. Of course Archie doesn't do 3 years for selling worthless bonds. O'Connor also modeled him after Norm Crosby
The show went like this... The father was a blue collar fire breathing bigot and the mother a dingbat, the daughter an aspiring feminist with a Meat Head husband. The pariculars of that series can be found here.
Like Norman Lear, Rob Reiner also had daddy issues. Rob was the son of TV funny man Carl Reiner. Carl was the creator of the Dick Van Dyke Show back in 1960 that was patterned after his life. There was more than one time, Dick's character said that his son Richie didn't like getting haircuts and wasn't the smartest kid in school. I wondered how Rob felt about that at the age of 13 and growing up from that. Was he teased in school about that?
It was the end of the sixties, the Civil Rights movement was fizzling, many Black people didn't want to integrate any more than their White counterparts. The Johnson administration ended in clashes between the liberal faction of the political class and their leftist children. Civil Rights lost popularity and something called Women's Lib was waiting in the wings. Of course, families were acting less like the Robinsons and more like the Bunkers.
Being a of being a student of what passes for public education, I did indeed believe Archie was a fire-breathing bigot, his poor put-upon wife was a dingbat, and Mike & Gloria were cool, hip and trendy. What can I say, I was a Teen-Aged Idiot. TV can influence perception of what reality is.
Mack White stated in his article on TV:
"This process is also at work in programs ostensibly produced for entertainment. The "logic" works like this: Archie Bunker is an idiot, Archie Bunker is against gun control, therefore idiots are against gun control. Never mind the complexities of the issue. Never mind the fact that the true purpose of the Second Amendment is not to protect the rights of deer hunters, but to protect the citizenry against a tyrannical government (an argument you will never hear voiced on any television program). Monkey see, monkey do--or, in this case, monkey not do."
Though Archie talked like Norm Crosby with all his malapropisms, and all the sighs and eye rolling from Mike & Gloria, was what he said stupid or crazy? While John Lindsay was riding his fashionable high horse of White guilt, there was an increasing problem of muggings and other street crime not to mention multiple air planes being hijacked, was having a gun stupid or crazy?
The vast majority of gun deaths happen in gun-free zones and cities with the strictest gun laws? Hillary, Obama and the rest of the so-called Gun Control crowd are not part of the solution but the problem.
Archie was ridiculed for saying Blacks preferred to be among their own. With the increase of Black only housing on college campuses demanded by Black students, it seems Archie was right maybe not about all of them but a lot. Nation of Islam, BLM, or the New Black Panthers, anybody?
Anyway around my 40's, I re-watched some the "All In The Family" with my increasingly middle-aged world view.
Archie Bunker was a fire-breathing bigot? Sheesh, I been around what he said was mild. Ethnic teasing and joking have been as long as two or more ethnic groups are in the same area.
"As a young man, I also worked on construction sites with every race on earth, and the ethnic jokes were non-stop among the workers. I was subjected to constant Irish and Paddy jokes, yet every single one of these men would have protected my ass if someone started a fight with me, and we all went out drinking together as multi-ethnic, merry vagabonds on a Friday evening. That's how working class people deal with their tribal rivalries while maintaining their human decency. Something the Politically Correct Cultural Marxists loathe and seek to annihilate.
Human decency will always trump Cultural Marxism and Fascism. We are not Bolsheviks nor cult members. We understand genuine compassion and we know the power of a fucking funny joke."
"There is no honesty in Political Correctness. None.
I am working class. I am not a member of the Cambridge SWP Anti-Nazi League. I do not relate to these self-appointed politically correct vanguards of the working class whom these 'socialists' clearly despise. I will never forget the look on the face of a Cambridge SWP stately home 'socialist' when she called me a 'common Dublin guttersnipe' in her best upper-class Home Counties condescending manner. That was real hatred - both at the ethnic and class level.
When you encounter genuine hateful bigotry, you bloody well know it is the real thing."
That sounds more like the Mike Stivics of the world, with the permanent frown, constant heavy breathing through the nose, and cross eyed staring. Humorless people are the worst to be around.
Being a former left leaning college educated hippie-redneck, who realized there are more college educated people than jobs for them, find out that the Archie Bunkers of the world are funner to be around than the Mike Stivics. I prefer the blue collar work over the estrogen soaked, eunuch making white collar sector.
I also realized that Edith wasn't so much a ding-bat but a possessor of a goofy sense of humor. I found Mike to be smug, condescending, self-righteous, loud and all around annoying. Gloria was just a crazy mixed-up kid, a product of the modern education system.
I also noticed Archie usually made the ethnic and racial cracks usually and only around his son-in-law because tweaking liberals is fun. He traded barbs with the men of the Jefferson household but seemed to have more non-White friends than Meat-Head.
I will conclude with this observation.
Know what Archie Bunker would be considered in the modern day work place?
A Teddy Bear...