Wikia

All in the Family Wiki

Archie Bunker

Talk0
10pages on
this wiki
Archie Bunker
Archie1
Archie Bunker

Gender

Male

Age

50 in 1974

Date of Birth

1924

Nationality

American

Residence

Queens, New York

Archibald "Archie" Bunker is a fictional character in the long-running and top-rated American television sitcom All in the Family and its spin-off Archie Bunker's Place. He is a reactionary, bigoted, conservative blue-collar worker and family man, played to acclaim by Carroll O'Connor. The Bunker character was first seen by the American public when All in the Family premiered in January 1971. In 1979, the show was retooled and re-named Archie Bunker’s Place, finally going off the air in 1983. Bunker lived in the borough of Queens]] in New York City. TV Guide named Archie the greatest television character of all time.

All in the Family got many of its laughs by playing on Archie's bigotry, although the dynamic tension between Archie and his liberal son-in-law, Michael "Meathead" Stivic (Rob Reiner), provided an ongoing political and social sounding board for a variety of topics.

The inspiration for Archie Bunker was Alf Garnett, the character from the BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part, on which All in the Family was based. Archie, in turn, was an inspiration for Eric Cartman[1] of South Park.

In 2005, Archie Bunker was listed as number 1 on Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters[2], defeating runners-up such as Lucy Ricardo, Fonzie, Homer Simpson, and Ralph Kramden.

Archie Bunker's own ethnicity is never explicitly stated, other than the fact that he is a WASP. Although that might suggest he is of English origin, he mocked the British and referred to England as a "fag country." He also referred to Germans as "Krauts."

Character traits Edit

Archie frequently told Edith to "Stifle." Series creator Norman Lear admitted that this is how his father treated Lear's mother.[3]

During the series' run, it would be revealed that, while he did disagree with his son-in-law's political views, his resentment of Michael Stivic stemmed in part from the fact that Mike was attending college and would be able to chart his own successful future, while Archie had been forced to drop out of high school during the Great Depression to help support his family. Episode "Everybody Tells the Truth" showed very clearly that both Archie and Mike were not above twisting the truth to make minorities into stereotypes. Edith exposes both Archie and Mike's prejudices – yet neither Archie nor Mike will admit the truth.

While locked in the storeroom of Archie's Place with Mike in the episode "Two's a Crowd", Archie confides (after getting drunk) that he was a poor kid who was teased in school for coming to class wearing one shoe and one boot, since his family could not afford to buy him new footwear. ("They called me Shoe-Bootie.") In the same episode, it becomes clear that Archie was also an abused child — yet he then goes on to vehemently defend his father, who Archie claims loved him and taught him "right from wrong." Archie was also a World War II veteran who had been based in Foggia, Italy. During a visit with a doctor it is learned that he had an undistinguished military record for his non-combat ground role in the Air Corps, which at the time was a branch subordinate to the Army Air Forces. Archie often insisted that he was a member of the Air Corps.

In spite of his numerous flaws, Archie was simultaneously portrayed as basically decent and, rather than being motivated by genuine malice, was merely a product of the era in which he had been raised. In the episode "Archie and the KKK," for example, Archie is invited to join a secret club - the Kweens Kouncil of Krusaders - which turns out to be a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. In spite of his inherent discomfort around people of color, Archie responds with genuine revulsion at the group's violent methods, and attempts to thwart a cross burning. It should also be noted that as the years went on, Archie grew more accepting of people different from himself, albeit partially out of necessity. For example, in 1978, the character became the guardian of Edith's nine-year old niece, Stephanie (Danielle Brisebois), and when it was revealed that Stephanie was Jewish (episode 197), Bunker accepted her faith. Ironically, Archie's dislike of Mike Stivic as a son-in-law would be justified when in the spin-off Gloria it is revealed that Mike abandons both his wife and son to live with a flower child.

Despite claiming to have strong Christian views, he very seldom went to church. In one episode, he does decide to become a regular worshipper at his church, only for him to try to back out of a volunteering assignment when it conflicts with an NFL football game he had tickets for (he faked an injury, but by episode's end, he legitimately hurt himself). Edith also revealed that Archie once had a terrible gambling addiction, once coming home after gambling his entire paycheck and their car; Edith threatened to leave him and take Gloria over it, which led Archie to apologize to Edith and — for the most part — quit gambling.

Despite having an adversarial relationship with his African American neighbors, the Jeffersons, especially patriarch George Jefferson and his brother Henry, he formed an unlikely friendship with George's young son, Lionel, who picked up and dropped off the Bunker's dry-cleaning, and fixed various electronics for them. Archie's intentions were good, viewing it as "taking him under his wing", but he would usually end up insulting Lionel by patronizing him. Lionel, in turn, would sarcastically humor Archie by acting on outdated stereotypes of his race. However, Archie still was fond of Lionel, even happy to attend his engagement party.

Viewer reactionsEdit

Such was the name recognition and societal influence of the Bunker character that by 1972 commentators were discussing the "Archie Bunker vote" (i.e., the voting bloc comprising urban, white, working-class men) in that year's presidential election; in the same year, there was a parody election campaign, complete with T-shirts, campaign buttons, and bumper stickers, advocating "Archie Bunker for President." In the show, Archie strongly supported President Richard M. Nixon, of whom he often spoke very highly, incorrectly calling him "Richard E. Nixon." He was also an early supporter of Ronald Reagan, writing him in on the ballot for the 1976 election, and threatening Mike that "he'll have Reagan in '80," predicting his win in 1980. The character's imprint on American culture is such that Archie Bunker's name was still being used in the media in 2008, to describe a certain group of voters who voted in that year's U.S. presidential election.[4][5]

The term "Archie Bunker-ism," or just "Archie-ism," was also coined during the show's run to refer to the many malapropisms, such as "groin-acologist" for "gynecologist," that Bunker used on the series.

After the episode in which Archie's opposition to the KKK was made evident, several watchdog groups became upset; they believed that the show shouldn't have "humanized" someone they viewed as a racist. They believed that Archie should be kept thoroughly unlikable.

Bunker was originally planned by creator Norman Lear to be very disliked, and Lear was shocked when Bunker quietly became a beloved figure to much of middle America. Lear thought that the opinions of Bunker on race, sex, marriage, and religion were so wrong and incorrect as to represent a parody of right wing bigotry; instead, Bunker's thoughts, broadly speaking, accurately reflected the mindset of some of the viewing audience. In fact, Sammy Davis, Jr., who was both black and Jewish, genuinely liked the character; he felt that Bunker's "bigotry" was based on his rough life experiences and also was honest and forthright in his opinions, and showed an openness to change his views if an individual treated him right (Davis in fact appeared on All in the Family to tell the Bunker character this).

Archie's racism had strongly subsided by the time Archie Bunker's Place began in 1979. During that program's second season, he hired a black nanny, Ellen Canby, for Stephanie and became fond of her. In one episode, Archie punched a man for making a remark about her and was thrown out for good from the lodge he had attended since the early days of All in the Family.

ProductionEdit

  • The only clue to Archie Bunker's father's occupation is the railroad watch, belonging to their father, that Archie's brother Fred gives to Archie.
  • Archie Bunker served in the Army Air Corps in Foggia, Italy during World War II. Carroll O'Connor served in the United States Merchant Marine.
  • Archie's character voice was created by a mix of accents Carroll O'Connor heard while studying acting in New York City.Template:Fact
  • Carroll O'Connor appeared in all the episodes of the series, with the exception of seven (three of these because of a contractual dispute with Norman Lear in Season 5).
  • For the first few seasons, the Bunkers do not own a car, like most New Yorkers who use public transportation in lieu of cars. A major point of humor in the show was from Archie constantly complaining about using the subway to get to and from work. Edith states they once owned an old used car when Gloria was young that Archie gambled away. However, Archie says he has to park far away from the hospital during the birth of his grandson in a season 6 episode, suggesting he purchased one, or was otherwise using Bert Munson's cab.
  • Archie apparently grew up in Woodside, as he asks his brother about selling their parents' home there.
  • It is said by Gloria that he went to school in Flushing, during the Archie is Missing episode.

Popular and academic use of the conceptEdit

  • In 1989, British musicians, The KLF, released a single called "Kylie Said to Jason." The song makes reference to "the Archie Bunker show" and other sitcoms.
  • Archie and Edith Bunker's living room chairs are featured in an exhibit at the National Museum of American History.
  • Philosopher Paul de Man used Archie to show that language is not in the first place "logical" or even "meaningful," but rhetorical. Rhetoric, in his view, always tends to suspend logic and subvert any clear meaning. He uses the example: "When asked by his wife whether he wants to have his bowling shoes laced over or laced under, Archie Bunker answers with a question: 'What's the difference?' His wife replies by patiently explaining the difference between lacing over and lacing under, but provokes only ire. 'What's the difference?' did not ask for the difference but means instead 'I don't give a damn what the difference is."[6]
  • In Israel, where the series (with Hebrew subtitles) was extremely popular, television presenter and politician Yosef Lapid was on several occasions compared with Archie Bunker, both because of physical resemblance to O'Connor and because of making some remarks which commentators on the left regarded as bigoted and demagogic.
  • According to South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Bunker had an influence on the design of Eric Cartman.

ReferencesEdit

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki