Thursday, November 12, 2015

What networks are looking for these days

We’re in the middle of development season. Networks are buying network pitches for comedies. So what are they looking for? Besides the staples -- diverse family shows (“We got a great idea. It’s MODERN FAMILY with Ethiopians.”) and Millennials trying to get laid, this year I hear they’re looking for the next ALL IN THE FAMILY.

They want to find the next Archie Bunker, someone who is audacious and has an outrageous take on current society. They’re having a tough time finding him.

Why?

Because YOU CAN’T DO ARCHIE BUNKER TODAY.

Let me repeat that.

YOU CAN'T DO ARCHIE BUNKER TODAY.  

The world is way too politically correct. Archie Bunker would drop the “N” bomb. Archie Bunker would call people wops, spics, kikes, and fags. Good luck getting any of those racially charged words on broadcast television these days.

ALL IN THE FAMILY writers were allowed to face controversial issues head-on. They were allowed to be irreverent, allowed to anger elements of the audience. Archie Bunker wasn’t subjected to PPM meters where tune out was measured.

ALL IN THE FAMILY was fearless. Today’s networks operate out of fear.

Norman Lear never had to have story pitches approved. He never had to have outlines approved. He never had to have his writing staff approved. (And by the way, his writing staff was all veteran scribes in their 50s and 60s.) He never had to have his first drafts approved. He was not required to execute network notes during the week of production. He did not have to have every actor, even those with one line, approved. He was allowed to cast leads who were middle-aged and frumpy.

For networks to think they could mount a genuine ALL IN THE FAMILY under those conditions is utter insanity. 

Better to stick with MODERN FAMILY with Southern Baptists.

72 comments:

Scott Cason said...

"YOU CAN'T DO ARCHIE BUNKER TODAY."

Which is why TV is boring and bland. If it were not for my love of football, I doubt I'd even turn my TV on anymore....except to watch DVDs of All in the Family. ;-)

Stoney said...

Uuhh, Ken, Have you watched any of the Republican debates? Norman Lear could not write any better Archie lines.

Mike Barer said...

I don't think Archie ever actually used what is now called the N word. I think they had to keep him just a little less hateful to where they could give him a few qualities. At that time the word could be used on TV and in fact was used in the TV movie Brian's Song. Brian Piccolo jokingly used it to Gayle Sayers and the two started laughing. In context of the times and with the overall theme of the movie, it was barely noticeable. I don't know if that is good or bad but it does show how our attitudes are shifted.

villagedianne said...

If they did All in the Family now it would have to be with a black Archie Bunker, more like a George Jefferson type.

Stoney said...

My memories of AITF:

My Dad loved it. I can still hear his wonderful belly laughs.

At least three times, I heard a church homily about Edith.

In 1972 I had an ARCHIE BUNKER FOR PRESIDENT patch on my jacket.

I don't envy any director who did the show. Pausing the action to wait for the laughter to die down must have been a timing nightmare.

I still have a 45 of "Those Were The Days".

My favorite Mike Stivick line "I thank God I'm an atheist."

The scene where Edith smashed the burnt cake into the rapist's face will always be great!

McAlvie said...

I won't argue that you couldn't have All In The Family on tv today, but not because of political correctness. I've heard that Two Broke Girls is back, so clearly nobody cares about any kind of standards whatsoever.

And that's why you couldn't have All In The Family today. By the time the networks got done tweaking Archie Bunker, the brilliance that was Lear's concept and O'Connor's portrayal wouldn't exist.

Archie was, yes, a bigot and a misogynist even by standards then. And yet, the character was so well done that you did not dislike him. Archie was a fish out of water, a guy very much a product of his times who found the times changing too quickly for him to keep up with. He was almost always in the wrong, and yet you had a bit of sympathy for him. Were Gloria and her husband any better, really? Mike was just as antagonist, while being much more annoying about it. You felt sorry for Archie, you wanted to smack Mike. And if I recall correctly, in a much later version of the show, maybe even post-Edith, Mike had left Gloria. You just know down in your bones that as flawed as Archie was, his own moral compass would never have allowed him to desert his family. And I seem to recall that among other things he had left school early to get a job and help support his family.

Archie was, in many ways, a much better person than the networks would allow today. AITF would never get on the air because it was too well done, and much too tame for them.

scottmc said...

Did you participate in the WGA voting for the funniest screenplay of all-time? Do you agree with Annie Hall being voted #1?

Brian Phillips said...

Mike Barer is correct. Lear used "Black beauties" because he thought that using the "n-word" was too harsh. There were some that thought that the put-downs and slurs of Archie Bunker were not going far enough.

Scott Cason is perhaps being a bit random in his condemnation. I think that watching folks too closely can be constraining, but by the same token, freedom is expensive. Lear and his pool of writers were handed the keys to a very powerful car and drove it well. If you were to hand the keys to someone inexperienced behind the wheel, you'd have a wreck on your hands. Steven Bochco et. al. pushed the envelope and we got "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue" which had amazing episodes, and also gave us "Cop Rock" and "Philly", which were not as successful. It's the same reason that Lenny Bruce is hailed as being funny while also using taboo subjects and vulgar language while almost no one talks about any number of people that were even bluer than he at the time or subsequently.

Also, the then vs. now of many PC arguments lacks context. At the time, TV was breaking all sorts of ground. A war was being shown on TV, people of different races were being featured more often...

So what do you do when the fields have been plowed? It can be constraining, but great stuff can still be made. Would to-day's writers have been able to deal with the inability to say "pregnant" (I Love Lucy), show married people with a child in separate beds (The Dick Van Dyke Show) or the worry that a White woman may touch a Black man's arm while singing (The Smothers Brothers and it was Petula Clark and Harry Belafonte)?

Many ulcers were had, many blood vessels were pushed to the limit, but classics were made.

Also the pool is a GREAT deal different. There are far more possibilities to have your work get out there. I could take my iPhone and write something and have it on YouTube. I didn't say it would be GOOD, but I can do that. Could you do that in the 1970's? No. The atmosphere that produced "All in the Family" had come through the strainer of:

- TV having to show it could be as good as the movies.
- TV having to show it could be as good as the legitimate theater.
- Attracting talent that studied and/or worked on the stage or movies
- Writing for one of three major networks

TV does not have to "prove" itself as much as it used to.

Last, even though I believe that Ken Levine likes "Modern Family", PC or no PC, do you think that MF (ooh! bad abbreviation!) could be shown in the 1970's? Name all of the committed Gay couples featured in the 1970's on TV as regulars.


OK, I'll start. "Hot l Batimore" had one. By the way, produced by...NORMAN LEAR!

You can't do Archie Bunker to-day. We are living in a country that doesn't think it needs to. President Obama has served two terms and that's IT, Black folks! We have achieved everything. Racism is over.

You also can't do:

BARNEY MILLER - one set, almost always all older men

Variety Shows (by and large, a holdover from the days that men and women went out to the theater) and yes, I know Neil Patrick Harris has one now, but gone are the days when you had several on at one time.

...or can you?

That is the challenge. Everything can be taken to an extreme. Too much PC begets too much scrutiny. Not enough and you get HBO's "First and Ten". Yikes.

Talent will out. Not all, but some and that's show biz, folks.

- Brian Phillips

Stoney said...

Another great thing about AITF; it was a dream of a lead-in. I seem to recall a show that followed it on Saturdays; something about doctors in the Korean war.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken,

On my walk to work this AM in the Big Apple I came across a man wearing a Washington Redskins backpack, then I went past a Starbucks and saw their red Christmas cups, after that I stopped in a Dunkin Donuts and was greeted by a coffee cup that read: JOY

I was SO OFFENDED that when I got to the office I cried so much that all of my tears flooded my keyboard & broke it.

AND YOU WONDER WHY WE CAN'T HAVE ARCHIE BUNKER TODAY!?!?! --LL

Brian Phillips said...

McAlvie: AITF also tweaked noses on BOTH sides.

Archie Bunker's racism was as plain as day, but it was also there because he was a man of his era.

Mike Stivik could, in his own way, be racist, too. Yes, Lionel Jefferson was his friend, but in one episode, Mike tells Lionel about a great article about race relations, which makes him the "almost-comfortable lefty": "I accept you, but I still need to talk about your...difference"

In a "Rashomon"-style episode, a repairman (Ron Glass) is portrayed as grim militant by Archie, but as a smiling "Uncle Tom" by Mike. Edith Bunker remembers him as an "average" man, who did NOT like being called, "Boy" by Archie.

All in all, AITF, to me, was much more interesting when it dealt with the characters and how they related to the world. One of my favorite episodes was Mike and Archie trapped in the basement. In that episode, you get great insight into Bunker's character when he talks about his father.

Bunker, like House or Basil Fawlty or even the Seinfeld crew may be people that you don't want as friends, but you ache a bit when bad things happen to them.

Larry said...

Archie Bunker would drop the “N” bomb.

You're wrong about that, Ken. He didn't. In fact, early in its run, one of the criticisms leveled at the show from some critics was that, as fearless as ALL IN THE FAMILY was, it wasn't completely fearless because it refused to allow "that word" to be a part of Archie's vocabulary. Norman Lear's argument was that the "n" word was only used by those who genuinely hated black people, and that Archie's brand of racism was rooted in ignorance, not hatred. Other staffers said that allowing Archie the use of the "n" word would have crossed a line. While there was something almost comically, pathetically ignorant about Archie calling blacks "coons" and "jungle bunnies," the "n" word was too loaded, even in 1971. The emotions it aroused were too strong to allow it to be a part of Archie's vocabulary and still allow him to be a character audiences would like.

The other thing is that, despite your somewhat romanticized view of network non-interference in those days, CBS simply wouldn't allow it. The network's Standards and Practices did draw the line occasionally when it came to ALL IN THE FAMILY, and that word was one of those times when they did. When the "n" word was finally uttered on ALL IN THE FAMILY, it came from one of the Jeffersons, the Bunkers' African American neighbors, not from Archie Bunker. (In fact, Archie himself protests that even he doesn't use that word anymore.)

Stoney said...

From the episode "Sammy's Visit":

"If you were prejudiced, Archie",...you would have called me a coon or a nigger, but you didn't say that. I heard you clear as a bell. Right straight out you said 'colored'." (Sammy Davis Jr.)

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I wish networks would take a chance on something new and different. More than that, I wish networks would just take a chance on taking chances again like they used to. Networks are too corporate today, and you've said it yourself many times, Ken: they're the ones who call all the shots, they're the ones who tell you what your show will be about, they're the ones who tell you who your characters will be, they're the ones who tell you what your situations will be, they're the ones who tell you what direction to take your show in, and they're the ones who own the show that you create. I understand this is why a lot of producers are migrating to Netflix now, even though not everybody out there has internet access, or is computer-literate enough to actually use it and therefore is only reaching a percentage instead of the masses. Matter of fact, I think Marty Krofft said it best when he summed it all up: "There was trust in those days." Ken, do you think networks will ever "trust" producers and showrunners again, or does it look like the corporate approach to network series is now firmly set in stone from here on in?

Jamie said...

I've always wondered if this is true, but I've read a number of times that, before Carroll O'Connor was cast as Archie Bunker, Norman Lear approached actor Mickey Rooney about playing the part. Maybe it's because I've seen Carroll O'Connor as Archie all my life, but I just cannot picture Mickey Rooney in that part.

Didja know Carroll O'Connor was one of the actors up for consideration to play the Skipper on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND? Talk about dodging a bullet, casting-wise.

wackiland said...

Thanks, Ken.

A. I was just "talking" to a showrunner friend about getting out of the network business (moving to cable).

B. Now imagine working with Mr. O'Connor as a *producer* in network television... fun times.

episode30 said...

All in the Family writing staff circa 1979—Mort Lachman, Milt Josefsberg, Mel Tolkin, Larry Rhine, Bob Weiskopf, Bob Schiller and Phil Sharp. Not a one of them under 60. Josefsberg, Rhine and Sharp were pushing 70!

Cedric Hohnstadt said...
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Mighty Dyckerson said...
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Cedric Hohnstadt said...

Archie could have easily been a villain and yet he wasn't. His bigotry usually came more from ignorance and fear than from mean-spirited bullying. There were exceptions but most of the time he was more foolish than cruel. You got the sense that he was sincere but misguided, trying to do what he thought was right but simply blind to his own flaws. In a way that made him very human, at times even sympathetic. He was full of bluster but deep down he was afraid.

I don't think you could have a character like that on TV today. As a culture we are just too polarized. We seem to have lost the capacity to treat those we disagree with as complex human beings. Everyone on "the other side" needs to be vilified, shamed, or painted as a one-dimensional caricature. Archie was a caricature then but he would be even more of one now. I doubt that a modern Archie Bunker would be allowed to be genuinely human or sympathetic.

Likewise, Edith's endless love and devotion helped keep Archie from becoming a villain. I don't think their marriage would translate to a modern TV family. Part of it was due to her incredibly generous nature, but there's also the fact that in the 70's divorce was still somewhat taboo. Couples, at least from Archie and Edith's generation, still believed you should stick together no matter what and find a way to make it work. Now that divorce is so commonplace, I'm not sure her commitment would translate the same way.

PNW Corey said...

Ken - Pilot idea for you and David (or is it David and you?).
"Snark...The world as seen by a snarky, blogging TV comedy writer"
Our snarky but yet lovable and qweerky blogger could pick-on, piss-off, rant about almost anything. From hilarious high-jinx to the serious. Be it sports, politics, celebrities or theatre-in-the-round. No worries about what show/week 7 would look like. "Snark" will never run out of material!!

Gary said...

To me, the absence of "that word" from Archie Bunker's vocabulary always stuck out, but then, I grew up in a small town in Alabama where, I'm sorry to say, even as a black youth, I heard the word used very casually by white people on a daily basis, many of them with an apparent lack of conscious hateful intent. Maybe my experience was not typical of that of people from major urban areas, like Mr. Lear, but for me, watching the show back then, ALL IN THE FAMILY lost reality points because that word was usually so conspicuously absent from the vocabularies of the show's cast, even though, as an adult, I recognize why they chose to exclude it from Archie's litany of racial epithets.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Lest ye forget, Archie Bunker was a remake of Britain's Alf Garnet.

I don't think network interference and political correctness are the problem. I think the problem is that the generation gap the show was about barely exists now. Though granted, the division between republicans and democrats is as big as it was then, if you tried to make a show about that you'd instantly eliminate half yoour audience (though a different half at different times).

wg

William Mercado said...

What I got from All In The Family was that initially Archie's way of thinking was wrong as well as antiquated.
It wasn't 25 minutes of Archie yelling racial epithets, Gloria, Michael and various Jeffersons when they were next door confronting Archie about his bigotry. Other people got shots in from next door neighbors to special guest stars like Sammy Davis jr.
All in the Family wasn't saying that bigots like Archie are right and everybody else is wrong. Over the years Archie as a person grew, not "perfected" but he grew as a human being. He shed some of his ways and at the core he was a good person.

Today's "Politically Incorrect" comic want to normalize bigotry not confront or examine, just say things for the sake of getting laughs, no consequences and certainly not criticisms

Mike Schryver said...

It's at least a good sign that the networks *want* another AITF, even if they'd be incapable of executing it.
I also can't imagine Mickey Rooney playing Archie a tenth as well as O'Connor did, but if he had been cast, I doubt the show would have run for 13 years.

Elf said...

Brian Phillips:

Skipping absolutely everything else you said: I disagree, you absolutely could do Barney Miller today. Just change one or two of the cops to female and there you go. didn't real cops call it the most realistic cop show on TV because it showed them doing what real cops did for most of their day: Dealing with psychos and paperwork, and every so often the actually solve a crime. I don't think the characters' ages made any difference to the show except for Fish and Luger, and I think the show got better when Fish was replaced by Dietrich anyway.

Brian Phillips said...

Elf:
It's not impossible to do, but it would be an enormously hard sell. There is nothing on TV like it. It does age well, because of what you mentioned. It doesn't have a lot of timely references and it found humor in that one room. To your point, I do remember Dan Savage's Dad liking "Barney Miller", however, being real doesn't always sell. I liked/like it because it was funny.

I did add..."or can you?", because when the sitcom was "dead", along came the Cosby Show, for example.

Peter said...

You can only do that kind of show now on cable. Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park have said Cartman is their equivalent of Archie Bunker.

Oliver said...

I imagine if there was a mega-hit foreign show they could adapt then they might bite, echoing what Lear did with All In The Family (from 'Till Death Us Do Part) and Sanford and Son (from Steptoe and Son). Bunker did not make it onto the air in a vacuum - indeed, I'm under the impression that Archie Bunker was actually toned down relative to Alf Garnett.

Myles said...

The Carmichael Show is a bit of a throwback to shows like this and The Jeffersons. The first season was VERY short but VERY well executed. Each episode touched on hot topics and the family members did not hold back and all said things that were controversial. The father (played by David Alan Grier) is not PC at all.

Ken Levine said...

The Carmichael Show is pretty funny.

jbryant said...

You could absolutely do a modern version of Archie Bunker. But as Cedric suggests above, you'd have to make him utterly irredeemable with none of the nuances the writers and O'Connor brought to him, so that all the other characters could score easy p.c. points off him.

Actually, I think the networks may be missing an opportunity to tap into the tireless outrage culture that is so pervasive today. How about a show called "Trigger Warning"? Every week, after a thorough trigger warning, of course, you'd have the characters engage in the most politically incorrect stuff the writers could come up with, then encourage viewers to vent on the show's Facebook, Twitter and other forums. There are people out there who would quit their day jobs in order to have that kind of regular fodder for their unquenchable outrage.

Rich said...

Best description of what the networks want came from a meeting I had with a top Disney exec in 1988. I was working on a theme park show for a new venue that wanted to attract edgy 20-somethings. The exec told me what he wanted was "full-frontal nudity, without the genitalia." Meaning "edgy, gasp-inducing, thrilling, bold -- and no guest complaints or discomfort in case Rick Santorum wanders in with his grandparents."

Something courageous without the, you know, courageous part...

Mighty Dyckerson said...
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Stephen Robinson said...

Archie Bunker's influence was seen in countless other sitcom stars from Fred Sanford, George Jefferson, Al Bundy, Homer Simpson, and Peter Griffin (arguably even Roseanne). MODERN FAMILY is somewhat of a "retro" return to a father figure who is overtly a nice guy.

But ALL IN THE FAMILY itself was a generational battle very much of its time (greatest generation vs. Boomer). I don't know how you replicate it -- a 50something now vs a 20something would be a far different struggle. It's sort of like if you tried to repeat the success of FAMILY TIES: The '60s liberals with '80s conservative kids worked because "Reaganism" at that time could simply mean a daughter who preferred shopping to protesting and a son who wore a suit all the time. Republicanism was fairly benign -- perhaps that's through my own nostalgia -- but a 2015 Alex Keaton wouldn't idolize William F. Buckley, he'd quote Rush Limbaugh and that just from the start makes him less likeable. Even if you disagreed with Alex's politics, he was an intellectual person.

When I think of how Archie Bunker was written in the '70s, I think of how Sam Malone was written in the '80s and how arguably a 21st century version of him (Charlie Harper) was such a pale shadow: He lacked Sam's core sense of decency, and even after Diane left and Sam's womanizing was exaggerated for more comic effect, he never felt as downright sociopathic as Sheen's Harper.

RyderDA said...

FRIDAY QUESTION:

The WGA just came out with their funniest screenplays of all time. Topping the charts was ANNIE HALL, followed by SOME LIKE IT HOT, GROUNDHOG DAY, AIRPLANE! and TOOTSIE.

1) Where was VOLUNTEERS?

2) Seriously? AIRPLANE was not #1 and ANNIE HALL was?

BruceB said...

The genius of "All in the Family" is that Archie was likable AND totally wrong. We related to him, so when we laughed at the stupidity of his bigotry, the ridiculousness of his prejudice, we saw it's stupidity and ridiculousness in ourselves. If he'd been a nasty villain in a black hat, we would not relate to him - we'd smugly think to ourselves, "I'm nothing like that." But when we see bigotry as a way of thinking that people we can actually relate to could fall into in the wrong environment, we are warned.

Comedy is a wonderful teaching tool. When we watch comedy we are very open-minded because we want to get all the twists of logic that are the setup/punchline of humorous dialogue in character comedy. That twist could be anything, and to "GET" the joke we have to have our minds open to any characters personal logic or unusual point of view to understand the joke. Which means we are understanding the thinking of people different from ourselves. And laughing at their thinking, often loving them for their transparency.

Loving Archie and also understanding how wrong he is. And maybe we are. Powerful stuff.

Bill O said...

The Rooney story was confirmed in an excellent new bio. Told Lear they'd be shot in the street. Rooney also owned the movie rights to Francis The Talking Mule, was persuaded to give it up to Universal - a goldmine for the studio. Instead, Rooney out his money and energy into such pursuits as Mickey Rooney Macaroni.

William Mercado said...

I think now as before some people are missing the point of All in the Family. The Archie Bunkers of the world see the show as a validation of themselves. They only see Archie taking on the Liberals, the feminists and uppity minorities not as a satire on people like themselves.

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

If they did All in the Family now it would have to be with a black Archie Bunker, more like a George Jefferson type.
It was called 704 Hauser St, I think, John Amos in the Archie-ish role, and his son (not SIL, was a young black conservative) didn't last long.

Archie was a lot less likable and Edith a lot less endearing, in the first few episodes, I'd guess the first six. And even as Archie got softer and lost of his bite, Carroll O'Connor could still deliver some great lines
Mike Stivic was a jerk and a caricature, too, a point made more in the early seasons, and as Archie never pointed out, he did not, in fact, even work, and he put his dogs on the coffee table, but like everyone in that cast except Jean Stapleton, Mike was blown out of the water by Carrol O'Connor

Bob Leszczak said...

Another very funny Norman Lear show, HOT L BALTIMORE didn't have the same acceptance, sadly. I loved it in my youth and saw it recently at Paley Center in NYC and it holds up. Charlotte Rae was one of the stars, and I interviewed her recently about it. She told me that was one of her biggest career disappointments. She LOVED that show but the bible belt put the kibosh on its success (there were hookers and a gay couple in the cast). That hasn't changed one iota.

Buttermilk Sky said...

You are right about correctness run amok. I saw a World War II movie on one of the more obscure cable channels which bleeped every use of the term "Jap" -- and as you can imagine, there were many. Maybe in response to this kind of thing, people think they are striking a blow for free speech if they employ a racist vocabulary. But words aren't the point, and censorship won't change attitudes any more than changing flags or pulling down statues. Archie Bunker was a hero to racists because he articulated their prejudices just as Donald Trump does now. "Archie for President" was a joke only because he was a fictional character.

Igor said...

It's bad even in late night. As far as I know, these days SNL would never do this skit in which Chevy Chase, as an HR guy conducting a job interview, does a word-association thing with Richard Pryor - https://youtu.be/z2u1bpXVGHE

Igor said...

A few years ago, I saw (in syndication) an episode of Everybody Hates Chris. (The one with Steve Landesberg, "Everybody Hates Mr. Levine".)

They bleeped "crackers". They did not bleep the Yiddish word for the N-word. This was on BET.

Gary said...

I always thought that All in the Family would have worked just as well as a traditional sitcom, sort of a 70's version of The Honeymooners. The four leads were so strong, they made even the non-topical episodes funny. For example the episode where Archie thinks he ate poison mushrooms is hysterical, and there's no racial or controversial lines in it all. There are many other such episodes.

A Freedom Place said...

God in heaven THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS!! Someone had to say it. I'm glad you did. I have often though that political correctness is truly ruining the gift of story telling.

Anonymous said...

Could you do AITF today?
Maybe, but it would be really hard.
How many actors available today as good as Carroll O'Connor?
Two things made the show: the writing and the acting.
And some of the best episodes have nothing to do with bigotry or topicality.
Archie's relationship with Gloria (the scene where she says, "I'm not your little girl anymore")
Archie and Mike debating "sock, shoe, sock, shoe" versus "sock, sock shoe, shoe"
Edith -klinged peaches
And just the scenes where they all passed the food at the dinner table.
The show would probably be a classic even if Archie wasn't a bigot.

Two other points to mention - before AITF Archie's character was down in a movie, not a comedy, almost as well by Peter Boyle - Joe.
And Charlotte Rae- two words -Car 54

Mike Schryver said...

"Igor said...

It's bad even in late night. As far as I know, these days SNL would never do this skit in which Chevy Chase, as an HR guy conducting a job interview, does a word-association thing with Richard Pryor"

FWIW, NBC recently ran the sketch intact in a 10 PM replay of the Richard Pryor episode.

Pete Grossman said...

Yay, The Carmichael Show. Definitely has the Lear touch. Glad to see you like it, Ken. The good news is it's coming back.

Igor said...

@ Mike Schryver

Cool. So maybe there's a chance. Maybe Lorne one day will... Probably not. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

The closest I've seen is Bill Simmons writing about the Oscars:"You've got a Holocaust movie, a Depression movie, a civil rights movie, and so on.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I've considering checking out THE CARMICHAEL SHOW, if only because I'm a fan of David Alan Grier, but since everything on TV today is crap, I passed on it, knowing it'd be just more crap.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

Norman Lear couldn't do Archie Bunker in the 80's. Archie had mellowed out so much he made Hawkeye seem like Archie Bunker in comparison.

cadavra said...

The CARMICHAEL set even duplicates the Bunkers' home.

Surprised no one's yet mentioned LAST MAN STANDING, which definitely dips its toes into AITF territory, though in a less flamboyant manner.

Marc said...

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I've considering checking out THE CARMICHAEL SHOW, if only because I'm a fan of David Alan Grier, but since everything on TV today is crap, I passed on it, knowing it'd be just more crap.


You know, Joseph, it's like a ray of sunshine brightening the room whenever you post here.

YEKIMI said...

I could see Ed O'Neill as Archie Bunker if done nowadays.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

@Marc So, you're saying' ain't no sunshine when I'm gone? I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know.

Donald Benson said...

I'm not a fan of the term "political correctness" for two reasons:

-- One, it tends to imply center and left-of-center have a monopoly on fraudulent outrage. The whole "War on Christmas" boils down to "I'm offended by what you didn't say, so you are neither Christian nor American."

-- Two, at a personal level I've seen it used to justify all forms of what used to be called rudeness for example, making way out-of-line remarks about an absent friend, then accusing us of being "politically correct" for not laughing). Back in the day the same jerks would accuse you of being "uptight" or "middle class" for not endorsing their boorishness; "political correctness" is merely the fashionable update.

Anybody who brags about being "politically incorrect" is trying to sell the fiction that he is somehow brave and contrarian, when in fact he's in lockstep with a currently powerful group that knows the term protects them from responsibility for their words and actions.

Okay. I'm calm now.

Mike Barer said...

Someone mentioned the Sammy Davis, Jr episode. I remember the remarkable Isabel Sanford when her character Louise Jefferson met Sammy Davis, Jr how she lit up, she was an underrated part of that show.

David G. said...

I still watch "All In The Family" on Sunday nights, thanks to DVDs. And I still howl out loud laughing during every episode. Current-day "political correctness" .... there's just nothing fun, entertaining, or even -real- about that.....

Liggie said...

A couple of other reasons AITF would be a tough sell today, besides Archie's non-PC mindset:

-- Edith would be seen not as a symbol of unconditional love, but as an enabler who unquestionably took verbal abuse from her husband. Many now view that as (and not entirely unreasonably) just as bad as physical abuse. I understand this is affecting contemporary views of Linda in "Death of a Salesman".

-- The topical nature. At a bar recently, I heard two guys talking about TV, and one of them said, "I hated Norman Lear shows. I work hard, I deal with serious issues there, and when I watch TV at night, I just want to relax and be entertained. I don't want social commentary shoved down my throat, especially in a sitcom." I'm not sure how prevalent that view was in the '70s, but I'm pretty sure it's common now.

On the positive side, the script for the pilot episode was included in my college English textbook, which says something about the series' quality writing. The line I remember was Archie saying, "I always keep things in the proper suspective"; that line helped set the tone for his character for the entire series.

Ted Kilvington said...

I'd have to agree that "Last Man Standing" approaches "All in the Family" territory, certainly more than, say, "Archie Bunker's Place".

Daniel said...

Television has always swung back and forth between permissiveness and conservatism. In the 1990s, NYPD Blue had nudity, cursing, and an openly racist detective. After the Janet Jackson incident, the networks got much more cautious, but eventually the pendulum will swing back in the other direction.

Every generation has taboos it's willing to break and taboos that are totally off limits. Seth MacFarlane says offensive things all the time, and he hosted the Oscars. Even Dr. House said lots of provocative things about race—and everything else. Caitlyn Jenner would never have been as widely accepted in any earlier generation. We now have openly gay married couples both on television and real life.

These days, if people want to watch a show with edgy content, all they have to do is switch to a cable channel, turn on Netflix, or surf the Internet. I suspect that, within a few years, even the networks will be less tame. I think that, when the pendulum swings back, it's going to swing back really hard.

michaleen said...

In Norman Lear's autobiography, he recounts his call to Rooney about playing Archie Bunker. Though Rooney was long past his heyday, Lear had a little trepidation about speaking to the legend for the first time.

Rooney shouted into the phone, "Hey, Norm!" After he turned Lear down with the line about getting shot in the street, Rooney pitched another idea that he thought could be huge, "Private Eye. Vietnam vet. Blind. Big dog."

Diane D. said...

It has been mentioned a couple of times, but I feel compelled to say it once more, Archie Bunker was a hero to the racists of the time. Non-racists laughed at him because they found the character hilarious, and though ignorant, not malicious. Racists just saw a popular show with a character who believed and voiced the things they thought and got by with it. I hated the show, because I never found that kind of ignorance, whether malicious or not, funny---perhaps because I grew up in the south and had to live with it.

I do think political correctness has become excessive, but I'm certainly not eager to see a new Archie Bunker.

tavm said...

In my opinion, "AITF" should have ended when Norman Lear wanted it to end-in 1978 when Mike, Gloria, and Joey left for California and Archie and Edith all along sitting silently in a very empty house. All that stuff concerning little Stephanie and the Stivics' eventual divorce shouldn't have happened. Also, while Edith's death was touching, we really shouldn't have seen Archie trying to live without her. I think that's one reason why "Archie Bunker's Place" is not on constant reruns today.

tavm said...

Meant to write "alone" not "along".

MikeN said...

I think you are wrong when you say it couldn't be made. Political correctness is what AITF was about. A few choice words would not be a big problem. Sure 20 years ago, Fox made it seem like they were doing a very special episode in need of dialogue when they had Boston Public focusing on the use of a certain word.

The networks just wouldn't be able to do it well. People mentioned Family Ties above. I didn't realize the hippie with conservative kids detail until I read about it after seeing most of the episodes.

MikeN said...

Does Hollywood ever have a gay man be a bad guy(excluding total sexual freaks)?
The only example I can think of is David Kelley, and he doesn't seem to be working much lately.

suek2001 said...

I was born in 1971...and so I missed a lot of the UN-PC comedy....In the late 90's or so, I caught a few reruns of All in the Family...
It appalled me...I realized how much of a PC society I had been raised in by even being afraid to hear lines about blacks eating watermelon...today's PC is more bland than 90's PC...
It has nothing to do with how I was raised...but how society evolved..and how the media controlled the message..
I agree with Ken..All in the Family cannot be made..although I think "Family Guy" is AITF in animated form on some level...and I hate that show....

Ron said...

suek2001 said...

I agree with Ken..All in the Family cannot be made..although I think "Family Guy" is AITF in animated form on some level...and I hate that show....


Okay, I have to protest here. Anybody who's lumping ALL IN THE FAMILY into the same class as FAMILY GUY is seriously misunderstanding ALL IN THE FAMILY and its intent. Yes, a lot of shocking things were said on ALL IN THE FAMILY over the years, things that were not--though the term didn't exist back then--at all "politically correct." There was a point to it, though. ALL IN THE FAMILY strived to bring a lot of issues into the open that no one else was talking about back then. The show dealt with racism, sexism, homophobia and other problems facing society by dealing with them straight on. There was no way they could do that without having somebody, usually Archie, say things that "weren't nice" or that were "politically incorrect." By having Archie say those things, they weren't just trying to raise eyebrows. They were trying to illuminate what TV was ignoring, and by raising Archie's consciousness, they were attempting to raise the consciousness of the audience. They were trying to start a discussion. "Let's talk about racism here for a few minutes." No one else on TV was doing that.

FAMILY GUY is nothing but shock value comedy. Forever looking to see how racist, sexist, homophobic, and misogynistic they can get. Forever trying to push the envelope of outrageousness. What can we get away with? What can we do this week that'll make the audience say, "Oh, my GOD, I can't believe they just did that!" There's no point to it. There not trying to address any larger issues. They're not trying to make anyone think. They're just trying to make jaws drop. It's a show designed to appeal to generations that have been raised in a politically correct society where the approach to dealing with poisonous issues is to ignore them and pretend they don't exist. FAMILY GUY is about as far removed from ALL IN THE FAMILY as you can get.

halojones-fan said...

But maybe that's the real problem. Nobody would accept, today, that Archie was a good guy underneath it all. That he meant to do the right thing but was too dumb to know what that was.

Although that's just half of them. The other half would hear him talk and say "right on! You tell 'em!" And they'd act confused when he turned out to be the butt of the joke.