All in the Family: The Next Generation, the brand-new sitcom from Glitternight Productions debuts tonight. Cult director Eddie Wozniak strikes again with this controversial update to the original 1970s series which blended the standard family sitcom format with a nearly Ibsenesque examination of social and political issues.
Rob Reiner is back as Meathead aka Michael Stivic. This time around Stivic is the Archie Bunker-type character to reflect the way that Rob Reiner’s generation of self-infatuated 1960s fools have grown as stagnated in their thinking and as trapped in the past as was the original Archie Bunker generation.
Meathead’s son Joey is played by Ben Affleck and represents the shallow, clueless generation of 1960s wannabes who grew up thinking that conforming to every single political prejudice of the left-wing Archie Bunkers who taught them in school made them “deep” and “intellectual” instead of narrow-minded and out of date.
Joey’s children – all played by up-and-coming young actors trying to make a name for themselves – are a fascinating mix. The two oldest children – son Che and daughter Margaret – are a Liberal fool and a Conservative fool, respectively. The storyline of many episodes will apparently center around Che and Margaret vying for the minds and political souls of the two younger children – Sophia and son Brad.
Sophia and Brad represent the conscience of the program and try to navigate their way toward a mature worldview despite the incessant warring of the Liberal and Conservative idiots who are their older siblings. In this way they fill the roles played by Edith Bunker (Jean Stapleton) and Gloria Bunker Stivic (Sally Struthers) on the original All in the Family. Edith and Gloria were noteworthy for being non-dogmatic politically and were refreshingly complex compared to Archie and Meathead, who were nothing more than stereotypes.
Tonight’s debut episode establishes the characters and situations with a little time left over to deal with transgendered bathrooms. It will be interesting to watch this series develop, assuming it lasts.
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