Married... with Children was an American sitcom about a white trash dysfunctional family living in Chicago. It ran on the FOX network from April 5, 1987 to April 20, 1997.
The show depicted Al Bundy, a formerly glorious football player turned shoe salesman; his wife Peggy , a tartish, uneducated, Censored page-hungry homemaker; and their two children: Kelly, their slutty, airheaded daughter (she attended high school at the start of the series), and Bud , their dweebish, unpopular and girl-crazy son (he attended junior high school at the start of the series). The show's theme song is Frank Sinatra's "Love and Marriage." The show has been in heavy syndication ever since its first run.
The show first aired in 1987 to very negative press. It was a very low-brow comedy that centered entirely around toilet humor and sex farce. The characters were one-dimensional parodies of actual people. However, viewers quickly embraced the show because despite its obvious shortcomings it reflected a huge part of the populace that was not represented on television. The concept of an unhappily married couple whose life was, essentially, a complete failure had never been explored. Suddenly people were confronted with an arguing and unhappy, trashy married couple and their underachieving, smart-mouthed children. (It's interesting to note that the role of Peg Bundy was originally offered to Roseanne, who turned it down only to do a show of her own about a struggling, realistic lower class family with Roseanne being the more popular program.)
What was important about the show, and what likely allowed it to survive for as long as it did, is that inevitably the characters (including next-door neighbors and friends the D'Arcys) would come out supporting and defending each other. No matter how much they bickered and claimed to despise their familial ties, when one of them was put into a tough situation, the others would come out fighting on their side.
Eventually the show's humor (as well as the cast's acting) improved. Critics began to actually praise the show for taking on issues like racism, women's rights and sexual promiscuity in a way that was accessible to just about any viewer. By the time the show ended every cast member was immediately recognizable to the public as their Married... with Children persona. Although several worked on other projects during the run of the series, only Applegate had any major success (due largely to her consistent appearance in publications for teenagers.)
The series is remembered as FOX Network's first successful program, and was one of the only shows to survive the network's troubled first season. It also established FOX's reputation as a low-brow network, an image it continues to alternately support and fight to this day.
The first season, consisting of 13 episodes, was released in October 2003 on Region 1 DVD. The second season, consisting of 22 episodes, was released in March 2004, also on Region 1 DVD. Both box sets were released by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.
The show is one of a handful of US comedies that have been remade for Britain (compare the much longer List of British TV shows remade for the American market). The show made no great impact, perhaps because of the questionable use of wholesome family comedian Russ Abbott in the lead role, or perhaps because the original had already been shown, albeit in a late-evening slot. The German sitcom "Hilfe, meine Familie spinnt" ("Help, my family is crazy") showing the family Struck  http://www.bundyology.com/deutsch/spinnt_d.html is a remake of 26 early episodes of "Married... with Children". The show first aired 1992 and had twice as many viewers as the original show in Germany, but as the Bundys were aired in early evening and the Strucks in prime time, the remake didn't achieve the expected success.
Al Bundy – Father figure in the Bundy family. Is usually seen in his trademark pose, sitting on the couch with one hand down the front of his pants. He was the star quarterback for Polk High School's football team, bound for college on an athletic scholarship – until he met Peg. Afterwards, he broke his leg, he lost his scholarship, his life fell apart, and he was stuck from then on working as a shoe salesman in a local mall. His misery with his life and his reminisces about his glory days ("Four touchdowns in one game!") is the main focus of the show's humor.
Margaret "Peggy" Bundy (née Margaret Wanker) – Al's wife and mother of the family. Al considers her first and foremost to be the cause of his misery. She is a lazy mother, having done very little to help raise the children (not that Al did much either), and often ignores the needs of her family. She often wastes the little money that Al makes from his job (she is very reluctant to get her own job; she worked at a department store selling clocks for a very short time, but quit after deciding that she hated working), and she is more likely to spend it on clothing and purchases from home-shopping TV channels than on food. When she does buy food, it's usually Bon Bons for when she watches her favorite talk show hosts, Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey.
Kelly Bundy – The first child of the Bundy family. A promiscuous bimbo, she is the stereotypical "dumb blonde." Much of her humor comes from the stupidity that she displays. For example, she asked her brother to help her with her book report on Robinson Crusoe and ends up reviewing Gilligan's Island instead (while yelling at her brother for tricking her, she says 'I had a meeting with the principal. A three hour meeting. A three hour meeting'). She is in love with boys, hair bleach, and the telephone. She often pokes fun at her younger brother, Bud, for being a pubescent Censored page.
Budrick Franklin "Bud" Bundy – The second child of the family. Bud is a guy who believes himself to be Censored page and intelligent, but often proves not to be. He is often rejected by women, and did not lose his virginity until he was twenty years old, to Marcy's slutty niece. He often insults Kelly for her unintelligence and promiscuity, though is ironically lecherous and frequently crafting grandiose sexual schemes. For example, he took the money his mother gave him for bowling lessons and instead bought a lifetime pass to The Pussycat Theatre.
Buck – The family dog. He is often "heard" by the audience through voice-overs that tell what is going through his mind at the moment. He is just as disgusted with the family as the rest of them are. He died at one point in the series, in order to allow the ten-year-old Briard that portrayed him to retire.
Lucky – The spaniel that the family gets after Buck dies. He is the reincarnation of Buck, but no one in the family ever finds this out.
Seven – A child who is adopted by the family at one point in the series. He was a very unpopular character, so he was dropped from the show without explanation in the storyline. See jumping the shark; Chuck Cunningham syndrome.
Marcy (Rhoades) D'Arcy – Peggy's best friend and the family's next-door neighbor. She considers herself to be above the ways of the Bundy family, but often sinks to their level. She dislikes Al, and often argues with him. Al's most frequent target is Marcy's tiny chest and "chicken"-like legs. Her cousin Mandy (played by Amanda Bearse in a dual role) is a lesbian. Bearse is gay in real life.
Steve Rhoades – Marcy's first husband. He is a banker who was actually at a lower position than Marcy at the city bank, but that didn't seem to faze him, as Marcy moved up to a high position at another bank, he received her job. Steve is one who sees himself as a better person than the Bundy family, but over time becomes more like them.
Jefferson D'Arcy – Marcy's second husband. Self centered and lazy, he is a male equivalent of Peggy. He is a close friend of Al, and often angers Marcy in his bonding with Al. Ted McGinley had appeared previously as Peggy's husband in an alternate universe, in an episode which parodied Capra's It's A Wonderful Life.
- Griff – A friend of Al who works with him at the shoestore. He is a member of Al's NO MA'AM organization.
- Bob Rooney and Ike – Important members of NO MA'AM.
Officer Dan – A friend of Al's who tries to balance his career as a police officer against his friendship with Al and his friends.
The Wankers – Parents of Peggy. They are more often mentioned than on camera. Peggy's mother is never shown (though she is heard in several episodes) but her father, played by Tim Conway, is in a few episodes. Her mother is constantly referred to as being unbelievably obese, the object of many jokes.
- NO MA'AM – An acronym for the National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood. This is the middle aged men's club that meets in Al's garage to discuss matters of serious importance to men such as beer and girls. Was also a church in one episode.
- Jiggly Room/Nudie Bar – This is a strip club run by Ahkmed , where members of NO MA'AM go to unwind and spend any money that their wives have not already spent.
- Big Uns – This is a girlie magazine that Al and his friends read. Also used before having sex with the wives. Al to Jefferson: "Take two of these and call me in the morning," looks at Marcy and adds, "better make that four."
- Girlie Girl Beer – Official beer of NO MA'AM.
Psycho Dad – Al's favorite TV show until Marcy cancelled it (She also got rid of Peas in a Pod, a show with characters similar to Al's life as well as football to put something that has Al's least favorite television star, Don Rickles). The group of NO MA'AM (with a far-fetched & confusing story about ice fishing, 'Jefferson hunts deer for bait, Dan skis deer to camp, Ike sets up camp, Bob scuba dives for best fish, Griff sends smoke signals so Al can fish with utmost confidence') go to Washington D.C. to return it despite the fact that the person who played the main character retired. It is banned, but when Al saves the speaker of the house from a mugging, he asks to cancel Blossom, "I think that's where he got the hat."
- Weenie Tots – Al's favorite fast-dissolving minature-corndog-like snack.
Controversy & Missing episodes
One episode of Married With Children was "lost" due to the efforts of a Michigan housewife and another episode was edited because of 9/11.
The Rakolta Boycott
In 1989 Terry Rakolta http://www.bundyology.com/rakolta.html , a housewife from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, led a massive boycott against Married With Children after viewing the episode "Her Cups Runneth Over - 3x06" http://www.bundyology.com/hpg/306.html . Offended by the images of an old man wearing a garter and stockings, a gay man and a woman who bared her breasts, Rakolta began a letter-writing campaign to advertisers demanding they boycott the show.
After advertisers began dropping their support for the show and while Rakolta made several appearances on television talk shows, FOX executives played it safe and refused to air the episode titled "I'll See You In Court - 3x08" http://www.bundyology.com/hpg/308.html . That particular episode would become known as the "Lost Episode". "I'll See You In Court - 3x08" was finally aired on FX on June 18th, 2002 but has never been aired on regular television broadcasting.
Ironically during the boycott, ratings for Married With Children skyrocketed due to interest in the show caused by Rakolta's crusade to have the show canceled. The increased number of viewers kept Married With Children on the air until 1997. According to sources on the Married With Children set, the creators of the show, Ron Leavitt and Michael G. Moye, sent Rakolta a fruit basket every Christmas as a way of saying "thank you".
Rakolta herself has been referenced twice on the show. The first time in the episode titled "Rock and Roll Girl - 4x14" http://www.bundyology.com/hpg/414.html when a newscaster mentioned the city Bloomfield Hills. The second time occurred in the episode titled "No Pot To Pease In - 9x09" http://www.bundyology.com/hpg/909.html when a television show was made about the Bundy family. After the show was canceled, Marcy told the Bundys that "some woman in Michigan didn't like it".
9/11 & The ticking bomb
Before 9/11, the syndicated version of the episode titled "Get Outta Dodge - 8x17" http://www.bundyology.com/hpg/817.html featured a scene of two Arabs with a ticking bomb at the front door of Al Bundy's house offering to buy his Dodge for $40 and asking for directions to the Sears Tower. The scene was cut from the syndicated re-airings of the episode after 9/11. Coincidentally, the scene in "Get Outta Dodge - 8x17" was originally aired on February 20th, 1994, almost 1 year(minus a week) after the first bombing of the World Trade Center on February 26th, 1993.
- IMDb entry for the show http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092400/
- TVTome entry for the show http://www.tvtome.com/MarriedWithChildren/
- Bundyology, a fan's website http://www.bundyology.com/
- No Ma'am, a fan's website http://www.eebell.net/mwc/nomaam.htm
Last updated: 02-10-2005 12:37:24