When Archie Bunker found out “Meathead” was moving his daughter to California, the no-nonsense father explained why that’s no place to live. Do his words still ring true today?
All in the Family was one of the most beloved sitcoms of the 1970s. Archie Bunker was not politically correct, and that’s what Americans loved about him. Many of us could relate to Archie’s unfiltered comments about the fast-changing world. It provided for hysterical episodes that won 22 Emmy Awards as Archie was quick to let others know what he was thinking, never keeping his opinions to himself.
This certainly was true when talking about his daughter Gloria and her husband Michael Stivic, better known as “Meathead,” moving to California. Archie’s mind wasn’t going to be changed. Like all good comedy, underneath the laughs are serious topics Americans could relate to, like a father distraught over his beloved daughter moving across the country. Archie said moving to California was a really bad idea.
“Nobody normal thinks about going out to California,” Archie told Gloria. “It’s the land of fruits and nuts. Every fruit is a little nutty and every nut is a little fruity.”
Looking back on Rob Reiner’s role as Meathead, many say he wasn’t acting at all but playing himself as the typical “hippie.” That sentiment was ever so apparent during an episode as it was when Meathead trashed the National Anthem as a “terrible song” that “glorified war.”
“That is one terrible song,” Meathead says to Archie as the National Anthem begins on TV while the two were seated to watch a baseball game.
“Don’t start up nothing with me Meathead,” Bunker responds. “That’s a beautiful song so shut your face!”
Meathead refuses to let that go. “Ha! The song glorifies war and even as a song it stinks and nobody can remember the words.”
Carrol O’Connor’s portrayal of All in the Family’s Archie Bunker appealed to Americans who were fed up with politics. His outrage at his son-in-law’s disrespect provided for must-see TV. Although the scene turns comedic, it’s timeless as it reflects the same issues we see today.
Rob Reiner claimed his handle of “Meathead” still follows him around today. In All in the Family, Meathead is married to Archie’s daughter Gloria. He doesn’t work and lives off of his in-laws while pursuing a degree in sociology. Reiner’s Meathead loves “protests” and reminds Americans of the 1960s counterculture.
In stark contrast, Archie was a World War II veteran and purple heart recipient, who loved his country. He was also a hard-working foreman on the New York docks and didn’t seem to care much for Democrats, which brings us to another classic scene that focused on Democrats during Jimmy Carter’s gas crisis.
“The Democrats’ way of ruining this country is to go tell us all how we oughtta make sacrifices,” Archie says. “God did great on that stuff. But they’re all gonna have us over the hill to the poorhouse. And we ain’t gonna be able to drive over there cause we ain’t got no gas. We gonna have to walk it.”
They say “history repeats itself,” and Archie Bunker’s words on the 1970s ring true today. Even the theme song of the TV comedy, “Those Were The Days,” reflects on Archie’s undeniable spirit as the average American blue-collar worker who longs for the past:
Didn’t need no welfare state
ev’rybody pulled his weight
gee our old LaSalle ran great
Those were the days
And you knew who you were then
girls were girls and men were men
Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again
Even though the last episode of All in the Family aired in 1979, the story of a middle-class family trying to make it in an ever-changing world is relevant today. In the end, Archie reminded us to love our family, despite our differing world views, which was the heart of the issue with his daughter Gloria. It wasn’t just about her moving to California — he wanted her near him, regardless of the political differences he had with his son-in-law. It was family that mattered most, not politics. That’s a sentiment we should all be able to get behind.