Some good news on the TV front today. As it is upfronts week, all the major networks are revealing their fall schedules. Since NBC has given up on TV entirely, the other three networks have decided to pump out a significant number of series, easily twice as many new series as have been released in the past four to five years. And one of those new series being given the old test run, is "Modern Family," a mockumentary about middle class family life starring Ed...wait for it... O'Neill!
You see, I have this unorthodox view of Al Bundy as a role model for husbands and father everywhere. This thought, when spoken aloud in polite company usually brings a few sniffs and conversations suddenly shifted toward another avenue. But I always felt that Al has gotten the short shrift, so here is my take on him.
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Al Bundy is a hero of our age. Long may he live on in memory.
I totally loved Married With Children when it was on, but I'll admit that back then a lot of the comedy was a bit over my head. The whole family life thing wasn't something I knew very well.
But after becoming a husband and a father, who comes home night after night, told to hand over the wallet, keep quiet, and not to embarrass anyone, I now "get" Al Bundy.
I can just see it now...fifteen years down the road, with teenaged daughters pushing me about this way and that, my wife openly mocking me in front of anybody...wait...I don't have to wait fifteens year for that!
Seriously, though. Al Bundy represented a whole sector of society that had usually been ignored on television. There are a lot of guys who go to work, day after day, to jobs they hate, bitterly resenting the loss of foolish dreams of days gone by, forced to live with the mistakes that have put their lives on mediocre paths. These same men, fully aware of their lack of talent or potential, and lacking the ruthlessness ever to grasp advantage out of the hands of others, instead console themselves to the idea that at least they are doing their duty, sad as it is. So they trudge on home, park their sad, beaten down cars, and walk through their front door, greeted by a chorus of "I need some money," "Daddy, I need you to drive me somewhere," and "How come John and Cindy can take a vacation every year, and we never go anywhere?"
Yet for all of that, there is love. A husband and a father who goes to work everyday, to a job he hates, and sticks around, day after day, letting the thrown stones and arrows roll off his back? That's love. Being there for your children, despite your limited means, and their constant disrespect and contempt for you? That's love.
Love is not merely a smile and a kind word. It's in what you do. It's in being there.
Just compare Al to the men next door. Steve Rhoades? Jefferson D'Arcy? They were both better looking, smiled more, and acted more loving toward their wives. But how did they stack up?
Steve abandoned his wife, deciding he'd rather be a park ranger. Jefferson was a former convict who refused to work a steady job, even when his wife begged him too, and who also was constantly involved in shady schemes where he would sucker Al into going along, to Al's detriment. An absconded husband and a sleazy grifter.
I think Al stacks up pretty well by comparison.
And in this new show, I really hope Ed O'Neill is going to make the transition that will convince studio execs that this is a show they want on the air.