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February 09, 2015


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Tim Norton

I enjoyed this post but the jokes on "All In The Family" were seldom predictable. The show was revolutionary from the start; a household headed by an obvious bigot during a particularly fraught time in American culture. The bigot was somehow rendered sympathetic at times, not for his bigotry, but for his cultural dissonance on full display.

If anything, Mike was more a cultural archetype then Archie ever was. In that show, the jokes were good but they were not the point. The jokes were the bridge or the dash of comic relief before huge topics were tackled in an unvarnished way. Shakespeare comes to mind. The most brilliant episode for me was when Archie invited a friend over for Thanksgiving dinner who had lost a son in Vietnam.

Mike invited a friend who had dodged the draft and gone to Canada during the war. The Carter amnesty allowed him to come back. The tension at that Thanksgiving table was palpable but Norman Lear was not content to let that pot sit unstirred. By the end of the episode, both generations of men had reached an understanding and even found grudging respect for each other but only after airing their grief and resentments. The process of human understanding was respecting and even elevated.

Norman Lear is a genius and he dragged American culture, kicking and screaming, to a newer day where truth could be addressed wonderfully in a three camera sitcom format. He is an all time great.

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