All in the Family

Sammy Davis Jr. and Carrol O’Connor on CBS’s All in the Family

Archie Bunker, created by Norman Lear and played by Carroll O’Connor, was groundbreaking in his unlikability — Lear gave him enough rope, every episode, to lay bare the ignorance of his narrow-mindedness and bigotry. The tension between Archie and his family — especially son-in-law Meathead (Rob Reiner) made All in the Family fascinating and endlessly funny — would Archie ever learn?

The show refused to turn Archie into a clueless cartoon or an instrument for preaching at people. He was complicated but capable of change, and he and his family loved each other despite their disagreements.

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