The TV series All in the Family ran on CBS from 1971 to 1979. The infamous Archie Bunker, so brilliantly portrayed by Carroll O’Connor, had an opinion about everyone and everything.
In today’s hyper-politically correct cancel culture, most (if not all) of Archie’s comments would immediately go viral, with offended parties decrying the remarks and people losing jobs left, right, and center . . . well, mostly right.
But before you take offense at this list of zingers, consider director Norman Lear’s motivation behind creating Archie Bunker. Through Archie, Lear was able to bring up topics that many Americans considered taboo. Archie was bigoted and ignorant and overbearing, but he always got his comeuppance. The show never intended to make fun of minority groups – it intended to make fun of Archie’s limited point of view.
In letting Archie spout off his tirades, Lear presented an opportunity for those who might not have had a platform in the early 1970s – women, black men, homosexuals – to challenge Archie’s closed-minded ideas. Consider this: forty-some-odd years before Caitlyn Jenner became big news, Lear covered the transgender controversy with his All in the Family viewers (see it here).
So, as you revisit Archie’s bits of “wisdom,” keep in mind that they meant for more good than harm.
10 Archie Bunker on Equal Rights for Women
When the Bunker’s neighbor Irene Lorenzo complains that she’s not earning the same pay as her male counterparts, even though she’s doing the same work, Archie tries to help her understand:
“After all, it’s a well-known fact that men are worth more than women.” He backs up his logical with, “In the Bible it says God made man in his own image. He made women after, from a cheaper cut.”
When he learns that Irene is making $5.50/hour – the same wage he is earning – Archie is beside himself.
“Equality is unfair… What’s the point of a man working hard all his life, trying to get someplace, if all he’s gonna do is wind up equal?!”
9 Archie Bunker On Racial Equality
Archie does not want the Jeffersons, a black family, to move to his neighborhood. Daughter Gloria and son-in-law Mike call him out on it, calling him “crooked.”
Archie explains that he’s just “looking out for No. 1,” which makes Mr. Jefferson “No. 2.” Gloria challenges Archie’s logic with, “I suppose the Puerto Ricans are No. 3 then…” to which Archie quickly replies, “Well, no, not necessarily little girl, your Puerto Ricans could be 4. Your Japs and your Chinks could be 3… 3A, 3B.”
8 Archie Bunker On Vegetarianism
Archie is upset that meat prices have risen eight percent. Gloria suggests the family consider becoming vegetarian, “It’d be cheaper… and healthier.”
Archie wants no part of it. “It ain’t natural. Man was put on this earth to eat meat.” When Mike challenges it, Archie explains, “The Bible says so… all of them old Bible people. They was always eatin’ meat, as soon as they found out eatin’ apples was wrong… It’s true. On special occasions, goats, lambs… whoever heard of sacrificing a head of lettuce?”
7 Archie Bunker On The American Melting Pot
In yet another disagreement with Mike and Gloria, Archie offers up his very own American history lesson, reflecting on the beauty of Lady Liberty standing in the harbor with her torch, screaming out to all the nations in the world:
“‘Send me your poor, your deadbeats, your filthy…’ And all the nations sent them in here – they come swarming in like ants: the Spanish P.R.s from the Caribbean, your Japs, your Chinamen, your Krauts and your Hebes and your English fags. All of ’em come in here, and they’re all free to live in their own separate sections where they feel safe. And they’ll bust your head if you go in there. That’s what makes America great, buddy.”
6 Archie Bunker On Slavery
“If God had meant for us all to be together, he’d a put us together. But look what he done: he put you over in Africa and put the rest of us in all the white countries.”
“Well you must have told him where we were ’cause someone came and got us,” said Davis, tongue-in-cheek. “I mean, there was work for us… How could you resist? Free transportation, room, board, chains…”
“I think you’re talkin’ about slavery, there, Sammy, and I wanna tell you I was always dead-set against slavery.”
In response, Mike, Gloria, and Lionel Jefferson (a black neighbor) belt out “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
5 Archie Bunker on Gun Control
Mike had a real problem with Archie giving Mike’s son a toy gun as a birthday present.
“You’re not giving Joey a toy gun for his birthday,” said Mike.
“Oh yes I am, it’s his first amendment right!” retorted Archie.
“The first amendment is the right to free speech,” Mike replied.
“Exactly! When you have a machine gun in your hand, you have the right to say whatever you want!”
Archie even appeared on his local TV channel to offer his opinion on how the right to bear arms can prevent skyjacking.
“…I could end the skyjacking tomorrow. All you gotta do is arm all your passengers…[the hijacker] ain’t gonna dare to pull out no rod. And then the airlines, they wouldn’t have to search the passengers on the ground no more. They just pass out the pistols at the beginning of the trip, and they pick ’em up again at the end. Case Closed.”
4 Archie Bunker On Cavemen
Archie is all worked up because he and Irene Lorenzo are competing for the same job. Mike reminds him that the government is pushing for more women in the workforce. And here’s what Archie has to say about that.
Archie: “It’s a crime against nature. Women was created for two things: makin’ meals and babies…. It’s true. Look at the cave women. Why d’ya think the cave women was created with short legs and fat butts?”
Mike: “I don’t know Arch, but I’m sure you got a good answer.”
Archie: “So they couldn’t run fast. So the men could catch ’em and force ’em to make the meals and the babies.”
Mike: “Well weren’t there any cave women with long legs and skinny butts that could run faster than the men?”
Archie: “Well them the men would have to bring down with a rock.”
Mike: “Now I’m startin’ to catch on. And what about the cave MEN with the short legs and fat butts that couldn’t catch any women?”
Archie: “Well they was probably your first fags.”
Mike: “I gotta get outta here. I’m arguing about cavemen with a caveman.”
3 Archie Bunker On Evolution
In response to Mike’s belief that the story of Creation is nothing but a “fairy tale,” Archie reads from the Book of Genesis about how God created man and woman.
“There it is,” he says, tapping the Bible, “in black and white. We didn’t crawl out from under no rocks, we didn’t have no tails, and we didn’t come from monkeys you atheistic pinko meathead.”
2 Archie Bunker on Black Athletes
At their first meal together, Archie and his future son-in-law discuss baseball. Mike wonders how much Archie has seen in his day, and Archie comments about how much the game has changed over the years.
“Live ball. Expansion clubs. And of course the biggest change of all: 1947… yeah, that was the year they let Jackie Robinson into the Majors. Changed the whole complexion of the game, in more ways than one.”
Mike demands to know what Archie means by that. Gloria tries to diffuse the growing tension.
“It threw the whole game outta balance lettin’ Robinson in,” continued Archie.
“So you think the inferior black race should not be given a chance against the superior white race?” demanded Mike?
“Hold it Mr. Liberal Meathead. I never said nuttin’ about your inferior black race…. It’s just the opposite, if you’d just let me finish…
“What I’m sayin’ is your coloreds, as is well-known, they run faster, they jump higher, they don’t bruise so easy. And because of their, whaddya call it, jungle heritage, they see better – it’s great for night games.”
“You know something, Mr. Bunker?” said Mike. “At first, I thought I misjudged you. And I was right: I did misjudge you. You’re a lot more ignorant than I thought.”
1 Archie Bunker on Opinions
During their very first meeting, Archie and Mike get into a debate about peaceful protests against the Vietnam War. Archie serves up his opinion but immediately shuts down Mike when he starts to offer his input.
“Let me tell you something, Mr. Stivic,” Archie tells Mike. “You are a meathead… dead from the neck up. Meat. Head.”
Mike says that now he understands Archie’s idea of a free country: Archie is free to say whatever he wants, but if anyone disagrees with him, they’re either thrown into jail or called a ‘meathead.’”
And that, dear readers, is where our nation stands today… some 44 years later. Everyone wants to be entitled to voice their opinions, but few want to entertain the opinions of others. You can’t have a conversation when only one side is allowed to speak.