Those Were the Days: Why All in the Family Still Matters

Those Were the Days: Why All in the Family Still Matters

by Jim Cullen

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Overview

Between 1971 and 1979, All in the Family was more than just a wildly popular television sitcom that routinely drew 50 million viewers weekly. It was also a touchstone of American life, so much so that the living room chairs of the two main characters have spent the last 40 years on display at the Smithsonian. How did a show this controversial and boundary-breaking manage to become so widely beloved?

Those Were the Days is the first full-length study of this remarkable television program. Created by Norman Lear and produced by Bud Yorkin, All in the Family dared to address such taboo topics as rape, abortion, menopause, homosexuality, and racial prejudice in a way that no other sitcom had before. Through a close analysis of the sitcom’s four main characters—boorish bigot Archie Bunker, his devoted wife Edith, their feminist daughter Gloria, and her outspoken liberal husband Mike—Jim Cullen demonstrates how All in the Family was able to bridge the generation gap and appeal to a broad spectrum of American viewers in an age when a network broadcast model of television created a shared national culture.

Locating All in the Family within the larger history of American television, this book shows how it transformed the medium, not only spawning spinoffs like Maude and The Jeffersons, but also helping to inspire programs like Roseanne, Married... with Children, and The Simpsons. And it raises the question: could a show this edgy ever air on broadcast television today?



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781978805774
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication date: 01/17/2020
Edition description: None
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 1,142,292
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 16 - 18 Years

About the Author

JIM CULLEN is the author of numerous books, including The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation (2003) and Sensing the Past: Hollywood Stars and Historical Visions (2012). A resident of Hastings on Hudson, New York, he has taught at Harvard, Brown, and Sarah Lawrence College, and is a longtime History teacher at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York.
 

Table of Contents

Introduction: Broad(cast) Humor 1

1 Situation Comedy, Situation Tragedy: The Transitional World of All in the Family 8

2 The Revolution, Televised: Origins of the Family 17

3 Fuzzy Reception: Meeting the Bunkers 36

4 Producing Comedy: Making All in the Family 47

5 The Character of Home: Chez Bunker 56

6 Not Bad for a Bigot: The Making of Archie Bunker 63

7 A Really Great Housewife: The Character of Edith Baines Bunker 85

8 Left In: The Liberal Arts of Michael Stivic 105

9 "Little Girl" to Mother: The Working-Class Feminism of Gloria Bunker Stivic 117

10 Family Resemblance: Hie Rise and Fall of the Lear Television Empire 132

Conclusion: Just Like Us 154

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