So, I’ve spent my time trying to learn a bit about things like Mens Rights Activists and Pick-Up Artists. And while I would like to say that my trying to understand them is fruitful, the truth is, I don’t understand them still. Thankfully, I found a place that manages to dissect all this vitriol and give me a good laugh or two while I’m at. It’s all thanks to The Manboobz.
The more I was read the more I started thinking about the show “Married, With Children”. Does anyone else remember that show? It was so trashy and yet so much fun until the last few seasons… which happens with most series.
I kept picturing Al Bundy wearing his big NO MA’AM t-shirt and going to strip clubs. Giving the money that he refused to give to his wife to a stripper instead. NO MA’AM on “Married, With Children” was so full of delicious irony that one couldn’t help but find it as funny as it was absurd.
The more I think about it… the more I kind of miss “Married, With Children”.
Was the series offensive? Of course it was. That’s why it was watched. That’s what people expected. In many ways, Al Bundy was like a more modern update of Archie Bunker.
Of course, Al wasn’t the only one who carried the show. After all, if the characters didn’t support each other, the show wouldn’t have lasted the 10 years it did.
And in many ways, I miss it. “Married, With Children” filled an underutilized niche in sitcoms. We try to recapture something like it or “Roseanne”, but I don’t think that is possible.
“Married, With Children” had the right people playing the characters. People love Ed O’Neil as the loveable loser Al Bundy and Katey Sagal as his wife Peggy. They’re interactions at times are offensive, but also really funny.
That’s one thing I feel “Married, With Children” did really well… tongue-in-cheek humor. The ability to look at the people and still make it funny, but not in a way that’s entirely self-deprecating. It’s something that I don’t think could exist at this time.
Was it subversive? Yeah, it was. But that’s part of what made it good for so long.
It was a show that came out at just the right time (kind of like the Simpsons). It had its run and it was wonderful. A show that was blue-collar comedy. A show about a lower middle-class family, that’s something we really don’t see anymore. We don’t see shows where there are these families that are struggling. They’re trying to capture the American Dream. It was a show of the everyman. Did I relate to Al or Peggy? Not when it was on. I don’t know if I do now that I’m an adult. Peggy isn’t someone who I would talk to. For many years I understood what it was like to languish in retail, so in that respect I got Al Bundy. I could understand how someone become apathetic, but it’s not who I am.
If I had to say there was a character I could relate to, it was Bud. My sister was more popular in school. I was the girl who was largely looked over. I was bullied by others. And in that sense, it felt like me… if I was a boy.
I think to a certain degree everyone found something they could relate to in the series. It may have done things that offend, but that’s what the show was about.
I think that the one thing that reverberated with most people was the solidarity. No matter what happened, they would stick together. There was always a sense of family, no matter how dysfunctional they are.
And really that’s what made it great and why it lasted so long. Everyone found something that could relate to.
While sitcoms these days are largely escapism, there was a time where they were relatable. Television doesn’t seem to be at that moment now. I’m hoping that some day we’ll find another truly subversive show. Until then, all we can do as look back in nostalgia.