Book Chapter or Section
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.