“Roseanne,” the smash-hit sitcom about an abrasive but lovable housewife and her equally quirky brood returns to ABC March 27th after a 21-year-long hiatus.
I, for one, am stoked about the revival–and seeing what the Connors have been up to all these years. In a world of oppressively politically correct mainstream television, the “Roseanne” reboot will be a welcome guest on my TV screen (or tablet–if I ever get Amazon Prime.)
The Connors were a pretty grand piece of Americana. You have Roseanne, the sharp-tongued take-no-crap, pulls-no-punches housewife; you have Dan, the blue-collar, sometimes volatile, sometimes genial husband; you have Darlene, the sardonic daughter, whose gleeful unenthusiasm for life is almost infectious; you have Becky, the more traditional American sitcom TV daughter; and then, of course, you have D.J.–the modern-day ‘90s kid; Alfalfa with a Super Nintendo.
The Connors are wonderful: moderately dysfunctional, purely American.
There’s another TV family that I hope will also grace our tablets and overpriced television sets once again, The Bundys. Unless you have been living under a rock in the late '80s to middle '90s–or were in prison, you felonious freak–you’d know all about America’s favorite misanthrope, Al “Shoehorn” Bundy; and his spend-thrifty and work-averted wife, Peg; his extremely promiscuous and dim-witted daughter, Kelly; his super-horny but book-smart son, Bud.
The Bundys, to me, are underrated. They are America’s first anti-family. Oh yes– we’ve seen plenty of anti-heros on TV before. Tony Soprano. Walter White. Dexter. And they were all revolutionary, ahead-of-their-time creations. But the Bundys deserve credit for being America’s first anti-family.
“We started the show as a response to the wave of sitcoms with an idealized family–the kind with clean sweaters, clean teeth, and clean hair,” said Michael Moye in a 1994 interview with Entertainment Weekly. Moye created the uproariously hilarious sitcom with longtime writing partner Ron Leavitt. “They were 22-minute morality plays that ended with a gang hug. We thought somewhere out there, there’s a group not being represented,” explained Moye.
They thought right. Moye and Leavitt were no strangers to the TV industry. Both were on the writing staff of kick-ass vintage sitcoms such ass “The Jeffersons,” “Happy Days” and “Good Times.” However, those shows weren’t their brainchild.
Al Bundy was indeed the anti-Cliff Huxtable: Cliff always did the right thing (unlike the real Mr. Cosby, unfortunately), he always hammered into his children the importance of going to college, earning a decent leaving, providing for their family. Al Bundy, on the other hand–the anti-Cosby–couldn’t care less whether his children go to college, earn decent grades, or even graduate high school. Al’s life is over. He has a wife who spends whatever measly paycheck he earns as a lowly shoe-salesman as soon as he brings it home. A daughter who can’t properly spell “cat.” And a son who’s in a hot-and-heavy relationship with a latex woman. All Al wants to do his reflect on his early years. His family, his occupation, are all matters of shame for him. His two touchdowns at Poke High, however, are the pinnacle of his life.
As mentioned before, the Connors were slightly dysfunctional. The Bundy’s were wholly dysfunctional. Moye and Leavitt took this miserable but oddly endearing clan as far as they could take them. In fact, it’s a wonder a show like “Married…With Children” even got the much-coveted greenlight. Simply amazing for a show in an era of Dan Tanner smothering love and affections for the bratty D.J., Stephanie and Nicole; in an era of campy TGIF shows with cookie-cutter endings, unrealistically resolving story-lines ending with cheesy guitar riffs and hugs. Yuck.
Not that I don’t have my own special nostalgia for the likes of “Full House,” “Family Matters,” and “Step By Step.” But you can only listen to Urkel’s grating voice so long; you can only tolerate Patrick Duffy’s toupee for a few times a month; storylines with neatly and easily wrapped up endings are no longer within the realm of possibility, not after we have seen the magic of trailblazing shows like “Married With Children” and “Roseanne.”
For Pete’s sake, bring the Bundy’s back. Unlike “Roseanne,” the Bundy’s never even got a final episode, a proper send-off, and they predate and inspired all of TV’s dysfunctional family’s, even the Connors.
Bring them back, I say. Why not? A “Married With Children” reboot would bring us back to a more nostalgic and welcoming time–a time when movie ticket stubs were only 3.50 cents apiece, and when an overgrown man-child with a horrible spray-tan would never have made it into the Oval Office.
Come on, unnamed executives. Bring the Bundys back. Pretty please? If you don’t, I’m going to have to tell on you to Grand Master B–and believe you: You don’t want to get on The Master’s bad-side.
About the author: Jack Bristow’s writing has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, The Huffington Post and The Santa Fe New Mexican. You can follow Mr. Bristow @realjackbristow.