Archie Bunker Got the Conversation Started

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LONG BEFORE Ellen, Will & Grace, and Modern Family helped normalize gay people in the eyes of the American public, All in the Family—which went on the air in 1971—initiated the discussion about homosexuality. The show confronted controversial issues that ran the gamut from race and class to sex and sexual orientation. Archie Bunker (Carrol O’Connor) epitomized the archetypical ignorant American slob who was stuck in the past, while his naïve, put-upon, but pure-of-heart wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) played the perfect complement to the bigoted and intractable Archie. Family conflict ensued when Archie’s son-in-law Mike “Meathead” Stivic (Rob Reiner), a child of the 1960s, espoused his liberal views, which were echoed by his wife Gloria (Sally Struthers), Archie’s daughter.

                  AITF first confronted gay stereotypes in an episode called “Judging Books by Covers.”

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Joshua Casper is a widely published New York-based freelance writer covering topics in sports, history, and culture.

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