How 'All In The Family's Archie Bunker Helped Us See Ourselves

By Rebeka Knott
Left: Sammy Davis Jr. guest-starring on 'All In The Family' with Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker. Right: Archie gears up for one of many arguments with his son-in-law (Rob Reiner). Source: (Bettmann/Getty; IMDB)

On All In The Family, Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) was the patriarch of a working-class white family in the early '70s. As expressed in the show's theme song -- the nostalgic "Those Were The Days" -- Archie and his wife Edith see changes in the America they knew, and have trouble accepting them. Archie embodied a familiar American intolerance and even racism, as well as general bewilderment about what the hell had happened in the late '60s -- and yet, he was human and lovable in his way. The show challenged audiences to think about their own attitudes, and made us laugh too.

Prior to the arrival of All In The Family in 1971, the television industry was best known for broadcasting programs that portrayed families who were the epitome of everything that was wholesome and perfect. Instead of the family coming to the dinner table with clean hands, good manners and pleasant things to discuss, the Bunkers let it all hang out!