’70s and ’80s sitcom colossus Norman Lear, that liberally attuned conceptualist, creator, producer and satiric savant (All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons) has passed at age 101. Full respect and salutations…no one will ever forget that pork pie hat, and all that churned and geysered under it.
Roughly 21 months ago: “I’d love it if a semblance of All In The Family could return as a present-tense social-issues Hulu series, except Archie could be…well, a bit like myself…sensible liberal older guy, perhaps an editor and founder of an online publication or web business of some kind, grappling with the pressures of HR woke terror in the workplace, clashing with Millennial or Zoomer daughter and BIPOC son-in-law who are living with him while they save for a house.
Basically Hollywood Elsewhere meets Norman Lear except Archie Wells wouldn’t be as smug or under-educated as Carroll O’Connor was…it could write itself.
Filmklassik liked the idea but said she show would have to be different.
“You’ll recall that Rob Reiner’s Meathead, while smug and kind of a freeloader, often made tenable arguments: ‘Race shouldn’t matter, Arch. Black, White — who the hell cares? You gotta treat everyone the SAME.’ But in All In The Family 2.0 (or perhaps AITF HE) — if they wanted to be accurate — the freeloading son-in-law would have to say: ‘Race MATTERS, Arch. It just does. You gotta treat folks differently on the basis of it.”
“Here, Filmklassik added, is how wokesters would describe vintage All In the Family characters if they were to run across them tomorrow: “Archie Bunker? Racist!” “Michael ‘Meathead’ Stivic? Racist!” That’s how fucked-up it’s gotten.
“Tribute documentaries about famous folk tend to be fairly similar, especially if the subjects are still living. They mainly say that the celebrity is a pretty darn wonderful person — modest but brilliant, witty, accomplished as all get out, rich, fascinating, compassionate, loves his/her life, good with kids, pets dogs.
“Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing‘s Norman Lear: Just Another Version Of You pretty much sticks to this formula.
“I could call it a cut or two above the usual, certainly from a technical standpoint, but Lear, the 93 year-old creator-writer-producer of such legendary ’70s TV series All In the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time and The Jeffersons, is never presented as anything but the most happy and wonderful fella.
“Which he may well be for the most part, but c’mon — everyone has known hurt, failure, shame, regrets. Everyone has aspects of their nature they wish they could iron out or refine. Everyone experiences nightmare flashes from time to time. Including the very wealthiest.
“The doc gets into Lear’s feelings about his father but not all that deeply. Grady and Ewing never elicit a single semi-critical remark about Lear from the famous talking heads (Rob Reiner, George Clooney, et, al.). It was obvious during the post-screening q & a that Lear can be a snappy dictatorial type who knows how to crack a whip, but there wasn’t a hint of this in the doc.” — from my 1.22.16 Sundance review.