The story of Archie Bunker and his working-class family in Queens arrived on American TVs as loudly and rudely as the “terlet” flush that broke TV ground in the first episode. Archie embodied the shift among blue-collar union guys from New Deal Democrats to what would become Reagan Democrats, clashing with academic lefty son-in-law Michael “Meathead” Stivic. Carroll O’Connor wrung humanity out of his stubborn, racist character, without excusing him, like a man sucking the last wisp of smoke out of a cheap cigar. And the show never let politics overwhelm its heart; it used one of the oldest setups in sitcomville (the locked-in-the-storeroom) to have Archie and Meathead bond over the story of how, as a poor kid forced to wear a shoe on one foot and a boot on the other, Archie earned his embarrassing childhood nickname. Good night, Shoebooty, and thanks.
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