All in the Family—Season 1

all in the family season 1 dvd cover episode guide list
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Smart writing that has stood the test of time, controversial but thoughtful, still edgy

Typical sitcom look

all in the family season 1 title card review episode guide list

Meet Archie

Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) has really strong feelings about the world and the United States.  With his “dingbat” wife Edith (Jean Stapleton), his daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers), and her “Meathead” husband Mike Stivic (Rob Reiner), Archie is fed up with what he’s seeing…and he isn’t shy about sharing it.  From homosexuality, religion, environmental issues, and race relations, Archie is taking the world by storm!

All in the Family—Season 1 aired on CBS from January 12, 1971 to April 6, 1971.  The series was a remake of the BBC series Till Death Do Us Part (which ran from 1966-1968 then 1972-1975).  The Norman Lear comedy won Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Series—Comedy, Outstanding New Series, Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series (Jean Stapleton) with nominations for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series (Archie Bunker), Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy (“Gloria’s Pregnancy”), Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy (“Oh, My Aching Back” and “Meet the Bunkers”).

all in the family season 1 opening song those were the days carroll oconnor jean stapleton

Those were the days…

All in the Family was a revelation.  It brought a lot of current issues to the forefront, it has a lead character who was generally considered “wrong”, but the show provided discussion.  With changes in culture and society, All in the Family became scarily “un-PC”, but with current events, All in the Family is back to being directly on point.

The series remains edgy.  The show is clearly liberal and demonstrates it through an over-the-top conservative Archie Bunker.  He constantly is butting heads with the other extreme in Mike and Gloria who are liberal.  While the show falls on the liberal side, it allows Archie to present his side, like it or hate it.  The result is that generally neither Archie nor Mike are “right” and meeting somewhere in the middle is the result.

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Archie Bunker…a great American or a scared American afraid of change?

The tricky thing about Archie Bunker is his “hatred” of everything different and new.  He claims to be religious but hates church and waves the Bible without the knowledge of what is in it.  Despite his voiced anger, you get the impression, he would defend anyone he sees as his friend when it came down to it.  The great example is Lionel Jefferson (Mike Evans) who he genuinely seems to like.  The same can be said about Mike who he vocally puts down, but he also seems to have bonded to him despite his frustration.  He’s small minded, but there seems to be a potential for change…which is amazing considering how he talks.

The series hits lots of subjects even early television looks at homosexuality (which Richard Nixon even discussed on his secret taped conversations when the show aired).  The one subject that oddly is the least developed today and seems behind the times is the treatment of women in the show.  While Archie genuinely seems “fair” to African-Americans (in a separate but equal type of racism), his treatment of Edith is a bit hard to take.  It is also shown in a surprise episode that Mike believes men are “superior” to women and only can be elevated by admitting it.  The series doesn’t really do much to switch up.  It is an odd argument in a rather progressive series.

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I love the Lionel-Archie relationship

The cast is good.  Carroll O’Connor was allegedly almost completely opposite of his character and it is a credit to his acting ability to pull off a somewhat likeable curmudgeon and racist character.  Jean Stapleton’s dingbat Edith is perfectly flakey…she’s “a real pip”.  Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers make a good team and feel like a realistic couple.  The show introduces Lionel Jefferson (Mike Evans) and Weezie Jefferson (Isabel Sanford) who later went on to star in the spin-off series The Jeffersons (a George character is introduced but it is revealed to be a stand-in).

While it looks like a normal sitcom, All in the Family isn’t your typical comedy, and it is worth studying due to its frankness.  The show says things that could never be said on television nowadays (though some people say far worse on Twitter and YouTube), and the series doesn’t pull any punches even by today’s standards.  The series presented a lot of new stuff on television (including the first flushing toilet in “Success Story”), and it barely survived (it took two pilots to get picked up)…but summer reruns lead to it being renewed.  All in the Family became a success and entered into the history books as classic television…it is hard to watch and challenging but it is worth trying.

All in the Family—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

all in the family season 1 episode 1 meet the bunkers anniversary archie meathead gloria edith carroll oconner jean stapleton rob reiner sally struthers

“Meet the Bunkers”

1.1       Meet the Bunkers Airdate:  01/12/71

Archie (Carroll O’Connor) and Edith (Jean Stapleton) are celebrating their 22nd anniversary and Gloria (Sally Struthers) and Mike (Rob Reiner) are throwing a party for them…but Archie might not be as appreciative as they hoped as Lionel (Mike Evans) questions Archie’s ancestry.

all in the family season 1 episode 2 writing the president archie bunker carroll oconnor jean stapleton rob reiner sally struthers

“Writing the President”

1.2       Writing the President Airdate:  01/19/71

Mike is writing a letter to Nixon, and Archie isn’t having it.  When Gloria and Mike challenge Archie to write to the President himself, Archie takes up the challenge.

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“Oh, My Aching Back”

1.3       Oh, My Aching Back Airdate:  01/26/71

Archie is rear-ended in an accident.  When Lionel reveals his parents got rich after an accident and opened a dry-cleaning business, Archie decides the accident could be just the ticket to money.

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“Archie Gives Blood”

1.4       Archie Gives Blood Airdate:  02/02/71

Archie objects to giving blood and what could happen if he does it, but Mike convinces him to try it.

all in the family season 1 episode 5 judging books by covers archie bunker gay friend steve philip carey carroll oconnor

“Judging Books by Covers”

1.5       Judging Books by Covers Airdate:  02/09/71

Archie dislikes Mike’s friend Roger (Anthony Geary) because he thinks he’s gay.  When Mike goes to the local bar, Mike learns a secret about Archie’s friend Steve (Philip Carey).

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“Gloria’s Pregnancy”

1.6       Gloria’s Pregnancy Airdate:  02/16/71

Gloria learns that she’s pregnant, but Archie and Mike aren’t as excited about the prospect of a child as Gloria and Edith.  When Mike and Gloria decide to move out, Archie and Edith question if they should stop them.

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“Mike’s Hippie Friends Come to Visit”

1.7       Mike’s Hippie Friends Come to Visit Airdate:  02/23/71

Mike and Gloria’s friends Paul (Jack Bender) and Robin (Jenny Sullivan) come to stay for the night, and Archie objects to their hippie lifestyle.

all in the family season 1 episode 8 lionel moves into the neighborhood louise jefferson isabel stanford archie bunker carroll oconnor

“Lionel Moves Into the Neighborhood”

1.8       Lionel Moves Into the Neighborhood Airdate:  03/02/71

The Bunkers’ neighbor Jim Bowman (Vincent Gardenia) has sold his house…to Lionel’s parents:  the Jeffersons!  Archie finds he has new neighbors, and he isn’t exactly excited.

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“Edith Has Jury Duty”

1.9       Edith Has Jury Duty Airdate:  03/09/71

Edith is selected for jury duty on a murder trial much to Archie’s dismay.  Sequestered, Edith creates the potential for a hung jury when she doesn’t think the suspect is guilty.

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“Archie Is Worried About His Job”

1.10     Archie Is Worried About His Job Airdate:  03/16/71

Archie worries about his job having layoffs and awaits a telephone for an update.  An obscene phone call leads to Archie having to contact the police.

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“Gloria Discovers Women’s Lib”

1.11     Gloria Discovers Women’s Lib Airdate:  03/23/71

Gloria and Mike are at odds when Gloria discovers that Mike’s liberal beliefs don’t include woman equality.

all in the family season 1 episode

“Success Story”

1.12     Success Story Airdate:  03/30/71

Archie’s successful army buddy millionaire friend Eddie Frazier (William Windom) is coming to town, and Archie is throwing a party for him.  Despite having money, Eddie has his own problems.

all in the family season 1 episode 13 the first and last supper jeffersons carroll oconnor

“The First and Last Supper”

1.13     The First and Last Supper Airdate:  04/06/71

Archie finds himself stuck in a tough situation when Edith accepts a dinner invitation from the Jeffersons.  When Archie tries to pretend that Edith has to remain home, the Jeffersons stop by for dinner.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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