Married With Children:An Essay
A somewhat serious look at the greatness of the classic show and its psychological impact
"Married With Children" was a great show. It made us laugh, it made us nod our head, and (dare I say it?) it may have even made us cry. Millions across the country used to tune in to this sitcom about a luckless shoe salesman and his family.
But what made this show so great?
The show's premise was simple enough. Al was a simple shoe salesman living in the 'burbs of Chicago with his housewife, Peg, and their two children, Bud and Kelly. Many situations cause "Al 'n' Co." endless problems, with the end result being our own amusement.
Again, what did this show have to offer that other sitcoms didn't?
The fact is, we loved this show because it offered an alternative to the more positive and upbeat sitcoms of the day, namely "Full House" and "Home Improvement". It featured dark humor, often times self-deprecating, which is normally unheard of and typically frowned upon. Al was not your typical tv "dad" and Peg was definitely no "mom". True, its not the only show where the husband and wife bicker and argue (see Home Improvement), but Al and Peg took it to new levels. Peg would insult Al in ways that would make most men cry, while Al would literally say he wished he hadn't married Peg. Their daughter Kelly was the exact opposite of "goody-two-shoes," she was the epitome of a dumb bimbo slut. Bud was a geekish "elf" who never got a date. Positive things never seemed to happen to this Bundy Family, and their neighbors never seemed to help. Al and family are constantly looked down upon and belittled by their neighbors, Marcy and Steve (in later episodes, Jefferson). Marcy refers to Al as a failure, with Steve/Jefferson standing quietly behind her. Its things like this which usually create a recipe for disaster, but this show lasted 10 years!
The truth is, what made this show so great was that the viewer was able to relate to it in so many ways. First, it made us feel better about ourselves. With so many things going wrong with this utterly dysfunctional family, who wouldn't feel better about themselves? Second, in some way or another, we knew someone like a character (or characters), making it easier to laugh when you think, "That reminds me of (insert name here)". Ultimately, in the back of our minds we are all thinking the same thing, "I'm glad that isn't me."