The focus on the episode was Christmas dinner. Pinky (Kevin Bacon) has been invited by Archie (Woody Harrelson) to join the Bunkers for Christmas Eve. A gold star father who lost his son in Vietnam, Pinky is still in mourning for his son. David (Jessie Eisenberg) is an old friend of Mike (Ike Barinholtz). He has nowhere else to go for the holiday and is extended an invitation by Mike.
Over the course of the episode, David reveals that he is a draft dodger. Archie, of course is enraged. The expectation is that verbal daggers will be thrown. Instead, the two men shake hands and peacefully sit down to dinner.
Our country is as divided as it was when this episode originally aired. The thing that struck me is that if these two men, with completely opposite viewpoints, can sit down and have Christmas dinner in peace, why can’t the rest of us?
Stepping into the iconic shoes of Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) and George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley) were Woody Harrelson and Jamie Foxx. Airing as they did in 1973 and 1975 respectively, both episodes tackled two subjects that are as difficult to talk about today as they were in the 1970’s: racism and sexism.
What I think made the live episodes so potent and so in your face is that not only to they still induce deep belly laughs, but they also force us to ask questions that can only be described as uncomfortable.
If you missed it or you would like to watch it again, the episode is available on the ABC site.
The pilot aired on January 12th, 1971. It was nothing short of earth shattering.
Archie Bunker (the late Carroll O’Connor) is a middle aged, working class World War II veteran. He lives in Queens with his loyal but slightly ditzy wife, Edith (the late Jean Stapleton), his daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers) and his liberal son in law (Rob Reiner).
Archie has opinions today that would not be considered politically correct. He does not hesitate to share those opinions, especially about those who disagree with him or those who he doesn’t like. Archie represents the generation that came of age during the depression and World War II, the generation that was middle aged with growing or grown children during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Despite his beliefs, Archie is still a decent guy who is trying to adapt to the changing world.
Family sitcoms before All In The Family were lovey-dovey, ooey gooey, with a teachable moment and a story line that was wrapped up neatly within 30 minutes. All In The Family changed that. The characters were flawed and human, using language that had not been heard before on American television. It exposed the raw nerve that was the American culture in that period. After 40+ years, this show is still relevant and still funny.