Is the All in the Family reboot already doomed to fail? A one-night special that will feature the recreation of a classic episode of the 1970s sitcom alongside an episode of its spinoff The Jeffersons was recently announced by ABC. But fans of the original shows are speaking out, with some questioning how a bigoted Archie Bunker will get past today’s TV censors. Others are not happy with the casting of the live ABC special.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the 90-minute event, Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons will have Woody Harrelson taking on Carroll O’Connor’s famous role as working class bigot Archie Bunker. Marisa Tomei will play Archie’s wife, Edith (originally played by the late Jean Stapleton.)
In The Jefferson’s segment, Jamie Foxx will play George Jefferson in the role originally made famous by Sherman Hemsley, and comedian Wanda Sykes will play George’s wife, Louise Jefferson. The reboot will also feature Ellie Kemper, Will Ferrell, and Justina Machado.
Executive producer Jimmy Kimmel seems happy with the casting. In a statement posted by THR, the late-night host raved about the star-studded cast for the All in the Family/Jeffersons event.
“The fact that a group of Oscar winners eagerly agreed to play these iconic characters is a testament to the greatness of these shows and their creator, Norman Lear.”
But not all fans agree. Some people questioned the ages of the reboot’s stars until they realized that Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei are older than Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton were when they debuted the roles as Archie and Edith Bunker in the 1970s. Still, other fans claim there is only one Archie Bunker — and it’s not Woody Harrelson.
My first reaction was Jamie Fox and Woody Harrelson are too young for these roles.
Carol O’Conner was 46 when he started All in The Family.
Sherman Hemsley was 37 when The Jefferson’s premiered.
My mind is all the way blown. https://t.co/rByxjIRog4
— Elon James White (@elonjames) April 19, 2019
I thought Marisa Tomei as Edith Bunker was absurd until I learned (ahem) Marisa is almost a decade older than Jean Stapleton was at the start of “All in the Family.” https://t.co/sT8xxopex2
— Louis Virtel (@louisvirtel) April 19, 2019
So one of the world's biggest stoners is going to play Archie Bunker and one of the world's biggest libs will play Edith? Show will very likely fail, but what a desecration of a timeless classic nevertheless #IngrahamAngle #AllintheFamily
— Floydie (@SnoopysSopwith) April 20, 2019
Some All in the Family fans predicted the live TV special is doomed to fail. One skeptical TV fan tweeted, “Yeah… I’m pretty sure they can’t do it ‘Full Bunker’ and get it past the censors these days… and will ‘Half Bunker’ Really feel like Archie?”
Another commenter tweeted that Archie Bunker’s time has passed.
“I think I’ve had enough of white racist men on TV. Enjoyed Archie Bunker another time but it would make me vomit today. I guess y’all gonna put George Jefferson to ease the racism.”
Indeed, there were many fans that echoed that sentiment, writing that “no way” would Archie Bunker’s controversial antics fly today.
This is set up to fail from the beginning. Archie Bunker was the BIGGEST racist, misogynist, and bigot in the entire world…but he made it funny and that was his God given talent. No way in hell they will recreate ANY of that. So how can it possibly be funny? https://t.co/y5cGcsQOpq
— ᒍᗩYᗰE♥️???????????? #ProtectAssange ???????? (@JaymeZontini) April 20, 2019
WHAT?!?!? How in the world are they gonna pull this off? While being funny shows for their time, Archie Bunker was pretty racist even back then. https://t.co/HA6sAldteK
— Wayne Carey (@wcareyphoto) April 20, 2019
I predict failure. In the 1970s we were invited to laugh at Archie Bunker because he was so ridiculous. This new production will, I predict, invite us to loathe and despise Archie to make us feel better about ourselves. https://t.co/pwIWVtRTIt
— David Dubrow (@davedauthor) April 20, 2019
Other fans questioned left-leaning Jimmy Kimmel’s involvement in the remake. But TV writer Joe Adalian, who pens Vulture’s TV MoJoe blog, took to Twitter to set the record straight amid talk that Jimmy Kimmel’s All in the Family remake will be “watered down, PC pablum” from liberals.
“Couple points,” Adalian wrote. ” 1. They’re using original scripts. 2. Carroll O’Connor was very liberal, as is Lear 3. Stifle it. It’s a TV show.”
It has not yet been announced which All in the Family and Jeffersons episodes will be recreated for ABC’s buzzy live TV event, but it should be interesting to see. All in the Family aired for nine seasons, from 1971-1979, with 205 episodes total, while The Jeffersons ran for 11 seasons from 1975 to 1985 with 253 episodes.
You can see a classic Archie Bunker rant below with George Jefferson’s brother Henry (played by Mel Stewart) in the All in the Family clip below.
Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons is set to air May 22 on ABC.