Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Media Representations of Cultural Issues in "All in the Family"

Broadcast on CBS in 1971 and continuing up until 1979, "All in the Family" was at the time a breakthrough show in regards to it containing previously untouched topics that had never before been aired on American television due to it being seen as "inappropriate" or otherwise offensive at the time. Such sensitive topics included: Racism, homosexuality, religious views, women's liberation, abortion, impotence, and the Vietnam War. Despite the shows habit of tackling controversial topics, it was surprisingly popular and well received (ranking #1 in the Nielsen ratings from 1971-1976.)

The episodes centred around a seemingly "normal" American family; a husband (Archie Bunker) a wife (Edith Bunker) their daughter (Gloria Stivic) and her Polish-American hippie husband (Michael Stivic) who at times come in to conflict with one another over their personal and political beliefs about the country they live in and other worldly happenings of the time.
The breadwinner man of the house Archie Bunker is described as a conservative, bigoted, blue-collar worker and ex Vietnam Soldier who virtually disagrees with most people on pretty much everything.

The show is driven by the character's interactions with one another, but what really makes it appealing to audiences is the level of shallow-mindedness through which Archie Bunker presents his opinions of life. His comedic values are derived from his down-to-earth and 'say it as it is' attitude to which he shows little or no remorse if anyone is offended during his "rants" expressing his opinion.

What I thought was particularly interesting about the show is was so groundbreaking in the way in which it presents a very typical White Anglo American attitude towards topics which were at the time still raw in the minds of the public and America as a whole, although typically America as a whole as it would be fair to say that many of the topics covered were far more rife then in places such as Europe and Britain.

The show itself, was inspired by the British TV show Till Death Do Us Part, would go on to influence now popular American TV shows such as The Simpsons, Three and a Half Men, and Family Guy with its use of in-your-face comedy.

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