All in the Family
I thought it would be interesting to set up “atheist” as a keyword on my Tivo to see what it catches. Not long after throwing that line into the water, the Tivo reeled in an episode of All in the Family. I never really understood why that show was so popular. I guess it was a product of its time.
This episode is called “The Little Atheist”. Gloria is eight months pregnant. Interestingly, they show her drinking wine. (Actually, the characters never really drink it. They show the wine. They talk about the wine. They pour the wine. Then they just stare at it for the rest of the episode. The program could have Archie spouting off all sorts of inflammatory racist hogwash, but they can’t drink wine. Strange.) I do find it ironic that this program portrayed itself as so progressive, yet it showed a pregnant being served booze. Odd how the perspective of 30 years can change things.
The premise of this episode is that Gloria and Mike are not going to abuse the baby with a god delusion. This upsets Archie, who thinks that this form of child abuse is necessary. Then there’s the standard All in the Family arguments pro and con, and Archie is shown as being on the wrong side again.
The particular angle they took with this show is that it should be the parents, not anyone else (e.g., grandparents), who should have the final decision in all matters of child rearing. Although it’s hard to argue with that attitude, I was disappointed that the producers copped out of the atheism issue by using this approach.
The episode appears to be about atheism, but it’s really about who decides how to raise a child. So this program, which is famous for tackling controversial issues, doesn’t really tackle it at all. They raise the issue, but settle it by other means.
The episode ends with Archie agreeing to let Mike and Gloria do things their way, but he secretly conspires with Edith to sneak the child off to church every Sunday morning. I’m not sure how this was intended. Are the producers saying that Archie is such a selfish jerk that he will do anything to get his way? Or are they saying that, yes, the parents have all of the rights, except when it comes to God?
Here’s an audio excerpt from the show. (If you’re reading this via RSS, you’ll need to visit my web site to see the Flash player.)