Jean Stapleton knew that Edith Bunker wasn't stupid
In comedy, there's a difference between laughing at and with someone. While both measures can be executed successfully, a comedy writer's mission is to ensure that their audience isn't laughing for all the wrong reasons.
In a show like All In The Family, there's a healthy amount of both laughing at and laughing with the characters, though who you're laughing at and with might say more about you than the series itself. However, some viewers might find themselves laughing a bit harder at Edith Bunker, Archie Bunker's better half, or as she's "affectionately" known, dingbat. While funny, a cursory glance at the series may have you convinced that Edith Bunker is nothing more than a ditzy housewife, not worth any deep analysis. The good news is that if you're of that opinion, we already have our counterarguments prepared, courtesy of Edith Bunker herself, Jean Stapleton.
In an interview with The Cincinnati Post, Stapleton revealed that she received fan letters attempting to comfort her. The article states that the fan mail "tells her she is waging the good fight which is not a losing battle, but a very worthwhile one."
Stapleton had been with Edith Bunker from the very beginning of the show and kept a fierce attitude about her throughout. She stated, "I've always believed in her, right from the start."
The actor also explored the mind of Edith Bunker and maintained, "She's not a stupid woman; sometimes she is slow thinking but in moments that count, she gets on base. Not in Archie's eyes, maybe, but she gets there just the same even if she has to appear stupid to do it."
She continued, "She has lived and learned how to manage her man and family. Archie is the head of the house but Edith is the power behind him because she loves him and can accept what she has to accept." Ultimately, Edith served as the glue that kept the Bunker family together, and probably kept them sane as well. Stapleton commented, "She's very real and the viewers know this." Moreover, Stapleton was aware that some people might be laughing at Edith rather than with her, but that was just fine by her. She said, "Maybe they feel superior to her but that's not bad either. She's a warm human being!"
Dingbat or not, Stapleton still loved Edith with the tenderness and care of an old friend. She confirmed, "I feel privileged to be able to bring her to life."
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