All in the Family 1971-1979
All in the Family revolves around Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), a working-class World War II veteran living in Queens, New York. He is an outspoken bigot, seemingly prejudiced against everyone who is not a U.S.-born, politically conservative, heterosexual White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male, and dismissive of anyone not in agreement with his view of the world. He often responds to uncomfortable situations by blowing a raspberry. He longs for better times when people sharing his viewpoint were in charge, as evidenced by the nostalgic theme song “Those Were the Days,” the show’s original title. Despite his bigotry, he is portrayed as loveable and decent, as well as a man who is simply struggling to adapt to the changes in the world.
Archie’s wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton), is a sweet and understanding, if somewhat naïve, woman who usually defers to her husband. On the rare occasions when Edith takes a stand she proves to be one of the wisest characters, as evidenced in the episodes “The Battle of the Month” and “The Games Bunkers Play”. Archie often tells her to “stifle” herself and calls her a “dingbat”. Despite their different personalities they love each other deeply.
They have one child, Gloria (Sally Struthers) who, for the most part, is kind and good natured, like her mother, but who also on occasion displays traces of her father’s stubbornness; she becomes more of an outspoken feminist as the series progresses. Gloria is married to college student Michael Stivic (Rob Reiner). Michael is referred to as “Meathead” by Archie and “Mike” by nearly everyone else. Mike is a bit of a hippie, and his morality is informed by the counterculture of the 1960s. He and Archie represent the real-life clash between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers. They constantly clash over religious, political, social, and personal issues. In addition to calling him “Meathead”, Archie also frequently cites Mike’s Polish ancestry, referring to him as a “dumb Polack.”
The show is set in the Astoria section of Queens, one of New York City’s five boroughs, with the vast majority of scenes taking place in the Bunkers’ home at 704 Hauser Street (and later, frequently, the Stivics’ home). Occasional scenes take place in other locations, most often (especially during later seasons) Kelsey’s Bar, a neighborhood tavern where Archie spends a good deal of time and which he eventually buys.