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Archie Bunker, the central character and patriarch of Norman Lear’s “All in the Family,” (1971-1979) has been referred to as an “everyman” and an “angry-man prototype” with “hard had prejudice.” The name Archie Bunker itself has become synonymous with a blue-collar, racially chauvinistic mentality. The title of the show’s pilot and theme song, “Those Were the Days,” emphasized Archie’s dream of a simpler (though idealized) time, a world that he could understand and upon which he could exert some control. In 1970s America, Archie seemed to feel that the world was against him – economically, socially, politically and culturally – and his angry attitude betrayed actual confusion, fear and a mounting sense of powerlessness. In some sense he was able to exert control over his private domain – his home and family. However, even in that environment, he was confronted with his more open-minded wife and more notably his liberal daughter and son-in-law (whose ambitions went beyond continuing the blue-collar tradition they were living in). Archie’s own home was a microcosm for the changing tide against which he continually battled.

Archie Bunker served as a folk hero of sorts. While his character is ridiculed and perhaps a caricature to some degree, his beliefs represented the realities of a working class American struggling to make a good life for himself and his family. Despite his intolerance and inflexibility (or perhaps including them), there are parts of his character that almost all viewers could relate to.


This work was originally published in "Blue Collar Pop Culture," edited by M.K. Booker.



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