Psychology and TV Families Starring "All in the Family"

I am LOVING reading this weeks blogs about dysfunctional TV families. I like to think of the beauty of family in the friendships in Golden Girls. I love how they created their own family when they were no longer with their own.

My husband has had to sit through episode after episode of All in the Family with me. It's funny because you would think someone like me would never put up with the first 20 minutes of that show. Archie's bigotry and Edith's stereotypical doormat personality of women back in the day would typically drive me bonkers. But it was always the last 5 minutes that I enjoyed. They either had a moment that brought the family together, dysfunction and all, or they put someone in their place that really needed to be put there. I love it. Well what does this have to do with therapy? Glad you asked.......

In this show there are 4 main characters. We have Archie. Could anyone be more counterdependent?? He is controlling, arrogant, self-centered, and entitled! Let's not forget he was prejudice towards anyone non-Caucasian or female. What I love about this show is that eventually they tell us WHY he is like this. They show that little hurting boy that was aching for his Father's approval. Not that it excuses it, but it helped us understand him and kind of like him.

Then there was Edith...oooh Edith. Could anyone be more codependent?? She was passive, dependent, a doormat for Archie, over the top other-centered, and wouldn't know a boundary if it hit her upside her head! But she was SO lovable. I also loved how every now and then Edith would react to Archie, not in your typical codependent anger, but with a matter-of-fact approach. "This is what I'm doing- like it or not". But it was not angry.

Their daughter, Gloria, was a smaller version of Edith with a feminist side. She was trying to break the cycle of female codependency in her family. For the most part, she was being successful with it. But it was hard for her to break away. Her "hippie" husband, Mike aka "Meathead", helped her with his extreme liberal thinking. This kind of thinking and having an opinion was something Archie wasn't used to. So when the kids moved in with them, the conflict was on. This was the perfect model of what NOT to do in conflict.

Mike and Archie's what not to do's in relationship conflict:

  • Always believed they were right and everyone else was wrong that didn't believe like them

  • Constantly interrupted each other

  • Name-called (well, Archie did anyway)

  • Tried to prove the other wrong

  • Wouldn't let things go

  • Didn't try to be empathetic in the least

These are just to name a few.

This sounds like a really bad family counseling session. But I think I like it because in the end we can all relate to each of them or know someone a little like them. It helped us feel more "normal". 

I hope you are enjoying this fun week of blogs. "Stay tuned" as tomorrow Joleen finishes us out with one more show. Thank you for reading!

Written by Natalie Chandler

Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC, LCAC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling.  We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville