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Norman Lear revealed All in the Family's British roots

Who influences the influencers?

All in the Family marked a massive sea change in the American sitcom. No longer did shows have to be delicate, handling controversial matters with white gloves. Instead, because of this one brilliant pioneering show, TV shows were able to embrace more of humanity's many sides.

But what paved the way for All in the Family? Surely, something had to break some ground before the groundbreaking sitcom debuted. What set the table so that All in the Family could serve us?

According to the series' executive producer, Norman Lear, the answer comes from across the pond. In 1971's All in the Family - Official Magazine No. 1, Lear explains how a show from the UK led the way for his most famous TV family.

"Some years ago I read about a TV program being done in England called 'Til Death Do Us Part. What I read indicated to me that the show was simply about a son-in-law living in his father-in-law's home and that the two of them fought about everything. It sounded like a show about the generation gap— for real. It was an immediate sensation in England and I had a feeling if it were properly translated it could be a hit in the United States, too. So I went about securing the American rights and ABC agreed to finance it. That was four years ago."

So, while the source material originated in the UK, Lear was able to find what was universal about it, ensuring the show would connect with audiences not just in the States, but everywhere else as well.

"All in the Family is an attempt to be realistic, to show how a slice of American society really lives and thinks. Archie Bunker is a bigot out of fear and ignorance— but he isn't a vicious man, a hater. Still, he expresses his attitudes and prejudices in ways that drive his liberal son-in-law Mike up the wall."

Truly an insightful look at intergenerational communication!

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