I love the old show Married With Children. It was on for a long time and should never have been canceled. They had moments in comedy no one else will ever have.
I seen an interview with its creators once- Michael G. Moye and Ron Leavitt- and they were very nice, entertaining, and comedic guys. But over the years, I have continually wondered: what world are they from? The show is supposed to be about a dysfunctional middle class American family, and an example of how not to be and what not to do. They said in a written interview I read once that despite all the shenanigans on the show, they would never write into it that the two main characters- Al and Peg- would ever cheat on one another. That is very nice. But this to me only adds to the non-reality of it.
The main character, Al Bundy, is a shoe salesman. Ongoing jokes are had about it, and he is frequently likened to being lower than a garbage man. Then his wife, Peggy, is a stay at home housewife that does no housework. Their kids are a teen daughter that is a slut, and a younger son that is a nerd and buffoon. On a few shows they have another kid they adopted from relatives which is a terror-tike. Then there is the lazy dog, the neurotic neighbors, and a few other off and on characters such as Al's friend the crooked cop. Despite all the hilarity, I have some questions for Moye and Leavitt...
First, with all of the ongoing jokes about Al's job and income, do you really think it is that bad? Al is the manager of a store with an absent owner. He does what he wants when he wants, hires whomever he wants when he wants, or usually works alone. He also toys with customers for his amusement with no consequences. All this inside a mall with climate control and a food court, where he is friends with most of the other shop keepers. Sounds like a dream job to most people.
Then, how much does he make with his commissions from shoe sales? They never say, but on one show it was mentioned that their savings of a few thou would be wiped out to get a new washer and dryer. On another it was said that a months pay was gone, and I calculated it to mean about 12. an hour- and this was in an 80's show. They also always seem to have money. When they needed any service help like an exterminator or an electrician, they called one. When they had a garage sale they had shirts printed up for it and they frequently had large poster signs made for other projects. Meanwhile the kids took wads of cash from his pockets daily, and he bought them a lot of coats and clothes and stuff whenever they wanted it. Peggy had credit cards and ordered junk off of the tv a lot. They all ate out constantly, which is simply very expensive. When Kelly begged for a thou or two on a few shows for modeling classes, she got it. Their utilities never were off, except for one time with a disputed phone bill. Plus, all of them always had good, new looking clothes.
All of that combined with Al's strip-bar habit, and his constant hiding of stashes of money, makes one wonder how much he really made. Seemingly, a lot more than most people.
Their house is maligned incessantly as a laughable structure that defines their poverty. Actually it looks to me like a nice, large, 3 bedroom split-level home with a full partially finished basement and attached two car garage, and a fenced in yard in a suburb of a major city. (Chicago. 9764 Jeopardy Lane, BTW...) Mortgages have been mentioned, but while unfortunate they are not uncommon. At least they own the place and do not have to deal with landlords.
Peggy's laziness as a housewife is hammered in like crazy, but what is wrong with their house? It is always clean, and I mean spic-and-span. There is never a stray item out of place or a single dirty dish in the kitchen. You do not see dust, dirty clothes, junk, disarray, or trash anywhere, ever. She may not cook much, but they are always eating out anyway.
The hated Dodge also gets a bad rap. Not a fan of Chrysler products myself, due to their notorious transmission problems, I still think it is cool they have such an old car that runs at all. It has no dent or scratch anywhere on it, and is all one color with all lenses and windows intact. It not only gets Al to work and back daily, but also was driven without incident to Arizona in one show and Florida in another, from Chicago. Once it passed the million mile mark and Dodge was going to make a promo out of it. Al messed it up and so went on a road trip to get another million miles started. Must be a good car.
The woe and misery also defies belief in a major way. On one show they won a brand new convertible. They also won a couple game shows they got on. And they ended up with a free week long vacation to England. The kids won a personal concert from a major band at their house (Anthrax). Bud ends up getting one good job after another, and all of the family lands every job they apply for. When Al gets into legal trouble, he always seems to get out of jail time. He also had a football field named after him. This is to say nothing of the time Vanna White played a billionaire who tried to buy him as a globe hopping boy toy for herself.
It also must be mentioned how incredibly lucky he is physically. Just off the top of my head, Al has been blown up in a fiery car crash, dropped from a second floor window onto his head to the concrete (several times), fallen off the roof (several times), been electrocuted, blew up his entire block with dynamite near a gas line, been run over by a car a few times, was attacked by a moose, and other freak accidents. He always comes out unscathed or at least alive with just bandages.
Even more strange is the show's disparagement of its characters. None of them are overweight, handicapped, chronically ill, or odd looking. Al's horror of having sex with Peg is outlandish to myself and probably most men watching the show. She is a babe! Slim, heavy on top, pretty, and a nympho. A dream to most men. Meanwhile Kelly's alleged hotness is true but not anywhere near the other gals they put on the show such as her model friends. And despite Bud's weirdness he seems to land numerous babes anyway. All Al has to do is put on a suit and women throng to him, as evidenced on a couple shows. Their neighbor Marcy is portrayed as a chicken lookalike with no chest and a likeness to a young man, but actually she is a cute, petite lady who is also a complete sex fiend. Many men would do anything for a woman like her.
Al's alleged stupidity also is a messed up concept on this show. He is clearly a total whiz at sports trivia. Plus he is an excellent player of football, bowling, softball, and baseball. He also restored a Mustang once so he knows how to work on cars well. Once he remodeled his garage into a lavish man cave. He rewired his basement once and installed a fancy hidden trapdoor and tunnel out of it. He seems to manage his store good enough to keep it open without the owner meddling, and his own finances enough to keep his stashes and keep the house with utilities on. It always all works out for him and his family.
Yes, the Bundys, if real, would be a very fortunate family that is atypical of most American households.
I know it is fictional and just meant to be funny, which it sure is. But if they were going to joke about how awful sex is, then why not get an ugly old fat woman to play Peggy? And if they were going to do all the no-money jokes, then why not portray Al as a fast food pion? And the house, try a single room shack in the ghetto. For a car they should have had a moped or crunched up station wagon.
But what do I know, right? I am just a poor midwestern dude and have no idea how rich-raised Hollywood writers fantasize about what poverty is. Anyway, it is still funny and I enjoy watching it regularly.
See also this post
© james platt 2012