Tag Archives: Sally Struthers

All in the Family Character Review: Maude Finley

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series All in the FamilyRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Our families, as much as we love them, can drive us crazy. The same goes for the families that we marry into. In an ideal world, we would get along with our in-laws. But we don’t live in an ideal world.

On All in the Family, Maude Findlay (the late Bea Arthur) is Edith Bunker’s (the late Jean Stapleton) cousin. Maude arrives when Edith is sick, seeing that she is needed. She gets along great with Mike and Gloria (Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers). But there is one person who she does not get along with: Edith’s husband, Archie (the late Carroll O’Connor).

Maude is an out and proud liberal. Archie firmly believes in the ideals of the political right. They get along like oil and water, knowing exactly how to push each other’s buttons. Edith tries to keep the peace, but to no avail.

To sum it up: Every great character needs someone to challenge them. Maude challenges Archie at his level, matching biting remark for biting remark. Neither tops the other, though they do try.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

This will be my last All in the Family Character Review post. The next group of characters I will be reviewing is…come back next week and find out.

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All in the Family Character Review: Gloria Stivic

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series All in the FamilyRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Ideally, when we marry, the family we are born into and raised by will get along with our new spouse and their family. But that is not always the case. On All in the Family, Gloria Stivic (Sally Struthers) is the only child of Archie and Edith Bunker (the late Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton). Married to Michael “Meathead” Stivic (Rob Reiner), Gloria is the peace maker between her liberal husband and her conservative father who refers to her as “little girl”.

During the first few years of their marriage, Gloria supports her husband while he attends college. Working at a department store, she only has a high school education, which does not help during arguments with Mike. After Mike receives his degree, they move into the house next door to her parents and welcome their son into the world.

Unafraid to speak her mind, Gloria can verbally tussle with her father as no one else can. As a young woman in the 1970’s, she speaks for the feminists of that generation, who were just starting to ramp up the fight for equality.

After they move to California, Gloria and Mike’s marriage falls apart. She eventually returns to New York as a single mother, working in a veterinarians office.

To sum it up: It’s a tough place to be in, torn between between the person you married and the family who you have known your entire life. But Gloria is somehow able to figure out how to walk that very thin tightrope without ruining her relationship with her parents and her husband.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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All in the Family Character Review: Michael “Meathead” Stivic

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series All in the FamilyRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Marriage, we are told is a compromise. It is also more than the coming together of two people making what will hopefully be a lifetime commitment. It is the coming together of two families. But whether or not these families learn to like or even love each other is another story.

Michael “Meathead” Stivic is the liberal son-in-law of Archie & Edith Bunker (the late Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton). Michael or Mike as he is called, initially lives with his wife, Gloria (Sally Struthers) and his in-laws while attending college. To say that Mike and Archie don’t get along is an understatement. Nicknamed “meathead” by Archie, their arguments can go from 0 to 60 in an instant.

But just because he leans politically to the left does not mean that he is perfect. He can be racist and chauvinistic at times, forcing a hard look in the mirror. He is also not the perfect husband. When his son was a baby, Mike got a job in California. This was unfortunately the beginning of the end of the marriage. More than a decade after Mike and Gloria married, their divorce was finalized.

To sum it up: Politics and familial relationships do not always make easy bedfellows. That being said, that does mean that just because you are related to someone on the other side of the political aisle, that you are all good and they are all bad. It is about trying to see the other side and finding some sort of common ground. Unfortunately, as admirable as some audience members might think Mike he is, he might be too much like his father-in-law for his own comfort.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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All in the Family Character Review: Archie Bunker

The new characters I will be reviewing are from…All in the Family.

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series All in the FamilyRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

From a writer’s perspective, it would be too easy to create a one note character that is entirely predictable. It is much harder to create a fully rounded character who the audience can relate to in-spite of that person’s flaws and imperfect humanity.

Archie Bunker (the late Carroll O’Connor) is very much an every man. A veteran of World War II and a blue collar worker, Archie lives in Queens with his wife Edith (the late Jean Stapleton), his daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers), and his son-in-law Mike “Meathead” Stivic (Rob Reiner).

The world around Archie is changing. When change happens, there are two ways to respond. You can either accept it or entirely reject it. Archie is not shy in admitting that he would prefer that life went back to the way it was. He also is not shy about using not so politically correct terms that some might refer to as racist or sexist.

Archie is a dyed in the wool supporter of the Republican Party and then President Richard Nixon. Which often leads to clashes with Mike and Gloria, who politics are on the more liberal spectrum. He also refers to Edith as “dingbat” and loves to sit in his favorite chair while sharing his opinions about the world around him.

But underneath that gruff and bravado is a man who loves his family and at the end of the day, would do anything for them.

To sum it up: No one is just all good or all bad. It is that in between of good and bad that makes us human. Though Archie Bunker may appear to be a racist and sexist hard-ass, he is in reality a man trying to process the transformation of everything that is in front of him.

That is why he is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, History, New York City, Politics, Television

Throwback Thursday TV Edition- All In The Family

All In The Family is an undisputed classic.

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.

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