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Married with Children aired from April 1987 until July 1997 on Fox.

After a slow start this delightfully rauchy sitcom became the most popular series on the newly formed Fox Network. It was developed by Ron Leavitt and Michael Moye who had written for The Jeffersons, and who were given the green light from Fox to create a series that would not be mistaken for any of the standard sitcom fare offered by ABC, CBS or NBC. Leavitt and Moye happily obliged ; as Leavitt said to Alex Benblock author of " Out Foxed" " We'd always hated the typical family on television. It just makes us sick." The plot was a parody on U.S. Family sitcoms of the mid '80s and so the working title of the show was " Not the Cosbys." Basically their creation resembled a sexually charged version of the old radio comedy The Bickersons more than it did any TV sitcom.

Set in suburban Chicago, The Bundys were not your typical family ( Leavitt and Moye chose the name Bundy after one of their favorite pro-wrestlers , King Kong Bundy). Although they occasionally let it slip that they cared for each other , every member of the household seemed intent on belittling and putting down the others. Al ( Ed O'Neill) was a hapless, but chauvinistic shoe salesman with bad teeth, armpit stains, and smelly feet. His wife Peg ( Katey Sagal) was a lazy housewife who wore lots of spandex and teased hair and loathed housework and cooking. Most of their homelife was spent -making wisecracks about their sex life ( or lack thereoff). The rest of the cast included their daughter Kelly ( Christina Applegate), a sexy airhead; Their son Bud ( David Faustino), a budding young conman and their newlywed neighbors, accountants, Steve and Marcy Rhoades ( David Garrison, Amanda Bearse). Ritch Snyder appeared occasionally during the early weeks as Al's horny co-worker Luke Ventura and a dog named Michael ( voiced by Kevin Curran) played Buck the family dog.

The show's main issues always remained the same but their presentation would vary. First of all their was SEX. Their were many jokes about that topic and the characters-especially Kelly were styled for a certain sex appeal. Many guest actresses were pretty women including over a dozen playboy playmates. Kelly was portrayed as a tramp. Another important element was its running gags. One thing was Al's general fear of having sex with his wife. Other ones included Al's infamous hatred of the French; his favorite tv show Psycho Dad and his need to put a hand down his pants which he did all through the series. Al also kept mentioning his biggest moment, scoring four touchdowns in a single high school football game. Peg was the laziest housewife in America. Al's constant hunger and his weired meals ( a toothpaste sandwitch, one single M&M, dog foot, etc) were another permanent element of the show. Most of Peg's relatives were hillbillies from Wanker Counter, Wisconsin. Kelly's IQ fell tremendously through the years and her silliness was probably the best known plot elements of Married with Children. Bud on the other hand was a straight A student who was obsessed with sex but he hardly got a chance with girls. Thereful he had a blow up doll called Iris in his room, masturbated frequently and his family often teased him about his pathetic sex life. Another running gag was about Marcy. Al constantly teased her because of her flat chest and called her a chicken.

During the 1988-1989 season letter writers led by Michigan housewife Terry Rakolta encouraged viewers and advertisers to boycott the show but to no avail. The audience grew even more after the controversy and as long as the ratings were high, there were plenty of sponsors. Nevertheless Fox refused to air the fall 1988 premiere episode originally titled " A Period Piece" in which the Bundy's and the Rhoades went camping together and all three women started their menstual periods; after many changes it ran later in the season under the title " The Camping Show." Another episode later that season in which Al and Peg were videotaped having sex at a sleazy hotel was killed and was never televised by Fox. Outside the U.S. it was broadcast many times as their was actually no notable difference to other episodes but the U.S. premiere didn't take place until June 18, 2002-13 years 5 months and 12 days after the taping of the show. This unaired episode was finally aired on The FX Cable Channel

Also during 1988-1989, Marcy's husband Steve authorized a loan to finance one Al's get-rich-quick schemes and when Al couldn't repay it , Steve lost his job at the bank . After months of unemployment he left Marcy to become a park ranger at Yosemite ( the plot device was developed to permit David Garrison to appear in a play). Kelly, the blond sexpot with an IQ as low as her hemlines were high , somehow managed to graduate from high school in the spring but despite making a little money as a model continued to live at home. A year later Marcy found herself married to Jefferson D'Arcy ( Ted McGinley), a guy she had met during a drinking binge at a banker's convention. Jefferson never had a job. He just lived off his wife's earnings as a banker.

The producers of Married...With Children tried to launch three spin-offs. The first attempt succeeded with the episode " Top of the Heap" as a pilot for a series with the same name. The regular series episode premiered on Fox on April 14, 1991 but only six episodes were produced. Joseph Bologna and a Pre-Friends Matt LeBlanc starred as Charlie and Vinnie Verducci with LeBlanc appearing in a follow up series Vinnie & Bobby. Two other Married...With Children spin-off episodes were produced , " Radio Free Trumaine" with David Garrison as Dean Steven Rhoades and co-starring Keri Russell as April and "Enemies" with Alan Thicke and Nicole Eggert but they were never followed by a regular series.

In the fall of 1991 with star Katey Sagal expecting a child, the producers decided to have both Peg and Marcy pregnant much to the consternation of their spouses and in Peg's case, her other children. Ms. Sagal miscarried in October and to minimize what would have been an awkward situation no matter how it was handled, the entire pregnancy storyline was revealed to have been Al's horrible nightmare. Shades of Dallas.

The following year brought the arrival of Seven ( Shane Sweet), the six-year-old son of one of Peg's cousins who moved in with the Bundys. The writers apparently couldn't integrate his character into the series because he disappeared from the show a few months laterwith no mention of what had happened to him. His face did reappear in three later episodes " Kelly Throws Something" ( his head flies out of Kelly's ear), " Ride Scare" ( on a milk carton as a " Have you seen me" child) and another one ( on a balloon over Kelly's head with a big question mark next to him).

Kelly actually got a job in 1992 as a waitress at a cheap diner. Waitressing didn't work out for Kelly , who tried TV commercials , first for Pest Boys Exterminating Company as the Verminator and later as the commercial spokesperson for Ice Hole Beer. Bud had begun college, around the time Kelly started slinging hash, but finances or lack thereof kept both the Bundy kids at home much to Al's chagrin. By 1994 Bud was working part-time as a driving tester for the Illinois Bureau of Motor Vehicles and that fall finally lost his virginity to Marcy's sexually aggressive niece Amber ( Juliet Tablak) who had moved in with the D'Arcy's. Added to the cast was Griff ( Harold Sylvester), a shoe salesman working with Al at Gary's Shoe Emporium who also liked to hang out with the guys-including Ike, Sticky and Bob ( Tom McCleister, Pat Millicano, E.E. Bell)-at their favorite place The Nudie Bar.

Some Nudie Bar Sayings

Where the music stinks, and they water the drinks, the nudie bar.
Where the girlies dance in their underpants, the nudie bar.
Where you see their butt, and their trap stays shut,
at the nudie bar.

Where you can't touch a breast, but you can cave in a chest,
at the nudie bar.
Where you look at a thigh, and blacken an eye, at the nudie bar.
Where the beer gives you gas, but the Bundys kick ass, the nudie bar.

Al had also started the Anti-Feminest group No 'Ma'am ( National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood), which was preoccupied with preserving their rights to drink excessively, act like slobs , and lust over sexually explicit material. Not to be outdone Marcy started her own opposing organization FANG ( short for Feminists Against Neanderthal Guys).

In the fall of 1995, Bud moved out of his room and into the basement and Peg's obese mother ( heard but never seen and voiced by Kathleen Freeman) arrived to move into his room after she left her husband Efrem ( Tim Conway). On the October 1, 1995 episode Buck died and was reincarnated much to his chagrin as the Bundy's new puppy Lucky. He had wanted to come back as an eagle. The following spring Bud graduated from Trumaine University and when Married...With Children began its final season was trying to make it as a talent agent with Kelly as his principal client. Showing up occasionally during the last two seasons was " Gary" ( Janet Carroll) the verbally abusive woman who owned the shoestore in which Al and Griff worked.

In the series finale in April 1997 Kelly almost got married to the unwitting accomplace of a lady con who tried to rob the Bundys after she had escaped from prison. Al objected until he found out the dumb hunk's family owned a huge meat-by-product company but in the end stopped the wedding when he found out that the guy and his wealthy father had long histories of philandering. There was a short tribute message after the freeze frame at the end of the episode. It said, " Thank you Married...With Children for eleven great seasons and a million laughs." The show had been canceled due to Fox's unwillingness to pay the cast saleries and production costs.

A Review from The New York Times


Published: April 3, 1987

WITH young (under 30) top executives and a budget of $150 million in place, Fox Broadcasting Company is taking its first wobbly steps this Sunday toward what its hopes will be a fourth commercial network in prime time. Two half-hour series are being unveiled: ''Married. . . With Children'' at 7 P.M., and ''The Tracey Ullman Show'' at 7:30. In an unusual programming ploy, repeats of the entire hour will be offered at 8 and 9 P.M. In short, if you go anywhere near Channel 5 that evening, you are going to see these shows whether you like it or not.

''The Tracey Ullman Show,'' showcasing the British performer in a variety format, was not available for preview. That leaves ''Married . . .With Children'' with the burden, for the moment, of demonstrating what Fox executives mean when they say they are interested in programming that cannot be found on ABC, CBS or NBC. Fox, we have been told in a major promotional blitz, is going to be different. That may be so, in the sense that Joan Rivers, on the late-night Fox schedule, is different from Johnny Carson. Like Ms. Rivers, who is floundering badly in the ratings, ''Married. . .With Children'' is loud, coarse and life-of-the-party vulgar.

Described in a press release as ''a salute to the humorous and sometimes dark side of American family life,'' the new series was created by Ron Leavitt and Michael G. Moye, who apparently resent the fact that life is not a ''Father Knows Best'' rerun. No family warmth in ''The Cosby Show'' manner for these guys. ''Married. . .With Children'' aims to bring its audience closer to what's really going on in the American home. Al and Peggy Bundy (Ed O'Neill and Katey Sagal) have been married for 15 years and live in suburban Chicago. He sells shoes. She watches television and eats chocolates. Again the press release: ''They don't waste time saying 'I love you'; they show it as they verbally joust and snipe at each other.'' Here, evidently, is a love story for our time.

As our series begins, with a script by Mr. Leavitt and Mr. Moye, Dad comes down from the bedroom with his hand bandaged. It seems Mom left a cactus plant where the alarm clock should be. That's O.K., says Dad, ''I stopped the bleeding with your slip.'' Fun and games in suburbia. Anything else that Dad can do to make Mom's life easier? ''You can shave the hair off your back,'' she suggests. And so on, clumping heavily over the familiar television terrain of the brash, regular-guy stereotypes of the working stiff and his family. Think of early ''The Life of Riley'' or ''The Honeymooners.'' Or, just to mention a few others, ''All in the Family,'' ''Mama's Family'' and the short-lived ''Lotsa Luck'' with Dom DeLuise. Something different? ''Married. . .With Children'' is pure blue-collar shtick, dressed up with the usual sexual-potency and bathroom jokes.

Looking just a smidgen sheepish, understandably, Mr. O'Neill and Ms. Sagal get through the first half hour with a surprising degree of sympathy, he trying desperately to be patient, she stuffed perilously into high heels and a polyester wardrobe. Directed by Linda Day, the actors try valiantly to make the characters understandable even as the overall concept tends to be condescending. In the end though, the show is wearying, even after just its first 22 minutes. At one point, after Peggy announces that visitors are coming, Al shouts: ''Company? Who the hell would want to come over here?''

My sentiments exactly.

An Article from The New York Times


Published: December 6, 1987

COMMERCIAL TELEVISION ENTERTAINMENT is tumbling into a Vulgarity Sweepstakes. Today's viewers will find language and situations on their weekly series that would never have got past the ''program practices'' guards just five years ago. One major reason for the change is the expanding presence of cable television, where more permissive rules about content allow operators to carry uncensored theatrical-release films and stand-up comedy acts that revel in aggressive coarseness. According to some current standards, this has something to do with being ''adult.''

Pouting openly about the unfairness of it all, commercial broadcasters have been inching forward into previously forbidden territories. Sexual allusions are more explicit. Love scenes are more graphic. Language is, as broadcast executives like to say, more colorful. In many respects, the changes are refreshing, welcome doses of reality to counteract the vapid days of ''Father Knows Best'' and Mom worrying about burning the roast when the boss has been invited to dinner. ''The Cosby Show'' has cleverly updated those old scenarios.

But the accelerating impulse toward being crude or outrageous - would-be sophisticates talk about being ''gloriously trashy'' - can be found in all corners of the schedule, from the highly acclaimed network creations of Steve Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, ''L.A. Law'' and ''Hooperman,'' to a kind of nadir in the Fox Broadcasting Company's ''Married . . . With Children'' and ''Women in Prison.'' Between these extremes can be found plenty of other evidence of questionable taste, including some of the wisecracks on ''Golden Girls'' and the steamy love scenes on action series such as ''Private Eye.''

The Bochco-Fisher team has been ingenious enough to have its contortions mistaken for wit. Earlier on in the run of ''L.A. Law'' there was, for instance, the phenomenon of the Venus butterfly, a secret sexual calisthenic discovered by the Michael Tuckner character and then used to seduce and conquer Jill Eikenberry. The staff was so proud of this advance in adult programming that they cutely mentioned the Venus butterfly while accepting their Emmy awards this year.

My favorite ''L.A. Law'' exercise in convolution was delivered by Susan Dey, who was supposed to be engaged to be married, as she resisted the advances of a persistent Harry Hamlin: ''There's a two-word description for what I'd be if I let you kiss me, and the second word rhymes with freezer.'' Admittedly, it took a moment of thought to figure that one out. Undeterred, Mr. Bochco and Ms. Fisher have this season used ''Hooperman'' to bring the world another television first: Bijoux, the flatulent pooch. Sophisticated? Like ''Hee-Haw.''

And then, taking a giant leap, there is Rupert Murdoch's Fox Broadcasting outfit, evidently determined to win the hearts of blue-collar workers and very young audiences as it slowly struggles to build to a full prime-time schedule. So far, only two nights, Saturday and Sunday, are in full operation. For the children, Fox has ''Werewolf'' and ''The New Adventures of Beans Baxter.'' For both youngsters and older folk, there are two genuinely classy acts: ''Duet,'' an affable romantic series, and ''The Tracey Ullman Show,'' an uneven but often delightful comedy-variety format. And then, swooping bravely into the blatantly crude, there are ''Married . . . With Children'' and ''Women in Prison,'' both produced by Embassy Communications, which was founded by Norman Lear and is now a unit of Coca-Cola.

Created by Ron Leavitt and Michael G. Moye, ''Married . . . With Children'' features Katey Sagal and Ed O'Neill as Peggy and Al Bundy of suburban Chicago. He is a salesman in a shoe store, she a bored housewife with an aversion to cleaning and cooking. Their two whiny children are props, not even bothering to appear in some episodes. After 15 years of marriage, Peggy and Al spend most of their time insulting each other. She is especially pointed on his sexual prowess or the lack of it. The weekly regulars also include their neighbors, Marcy and Steve (Amanda Bearse and David Garrison), young marrieds discovering that they may be the Bundys of tomorrow. Some typical story lines plucked from press releases: ''Steve moves in with the Bundys and becomes the housewife of Al's dreams''; ''Marcy loses her wedding ring down the pants of Zorro the Great, a male exotic dancer.''

There is, apparently, a lofty purpose to the existence of the boorish, loud-mouth Bundys. Mr. Moye explains: ''Other shows deal with families where Dad has a great job and Mom wears tasteful and expensive clothing. How about families where Dad is in a go-nowhere job, Mom sits home all day and the kids are constantly looking for money? We're now addressing a totally different type of family unit - one many people can truly identify with.'' Apparently, Mr. Moye never heard of ''All in the Family'' or even ''The Life of Riley.'' In any event, ''Married . . . With Children'' delivers its reality with unflagging gusto. Here, with a vengeance, is marriage with the wife as bimbo and the husband as determined chauvinist. According to Mr. Moye, ''Al says what we believe a lot of men in his position would like to say to their wives and children.'' Needless to say, the humor has limits. As Peggy, in her best Eve Arden manner, confides to her daughter, ''Your dad will always be your dad - until I can't take it anymore and hop on a freight train.''

''Women in Prison'' proceeds on the somewhat dubious premise that spending time behind bars can be fun - just a lot of sassy cutups getting into silly situations. Back in 1975, a network series called ''On the Rocks'' tried, and failed, to do the same for male inmates. Actually, ''Women in Prison'' clearly owes a hefty debt to a 1975 Off Broadway play, Tom Eyen's ''Women Behind Bars,'' a sendup of such serious Hollywood movies as ''Caged.''

Like the Eyen play, ''Women in Prison'' has a seemingly sweet, innocent young woman (Julia Campbell) locked up with a rogue's gallery of offbeat types: The street-smart murderer (C. C. H. Pounder), the nasty embezzler (Wendie Jo Sperber), the grandmotherly bank robber (Peggy Cass), the flirtatious lesbian (Antoinette Byron) and the sadistic guard (Denny Dillon), who seems to have overdosed on Sam Kinson comedy routines.

While the innocent, framed for shoplifting, spends much of her time exuding the dizzy graciousness of a newly pledged sorority sister at a finishing school, the others scheme for favors and ways to break out of the place. Again, the story-line potential is severely limited. Already the innocent, who has finagled her way into becoming the warden's secretary (''Can you cross your legs and show a little thigh?'' was the key interview question), has been sent to solitary for signing - not once but twice -documents without authorization.

Meanwhile, the jokes rely heavily on insult. ''What if I said no?'' says one inmate. ''You haven't said no since puberty,'' says the other. Or: ''What are you, a masochist?'' asks another. ''If the price is right,'' replies the other, with a leer. The hefty guard announces arrivals by bellowing, ''New meat!'' Or, passing a cell, she will sneer, ''Geez, put on some clothes, will you!'' And so on, with frequent allusions to kinky doings just out of sight of the camera. The laugh track is top-heavy with male guffaws, the kind that might be heard at an exhibition of lady mud wrestlers. The novelty of the situation wears thin rapidly.

What next, as commercial television lurches into the muddled arena of allegedly adult comedy and drama? Fox Broadcasting has on tap a series based on the movie ''The Dirty Dozen.'' As far as permissiveness goes, the audience is likely to see more rather than less, until the industry discovers that being coarse and outrageous has nothing to do with quality or wit. Oddly enough, such dopily quaint series as ''Father Knows Best'' and ''Leave It to Beaver'' are currently being revived in syndication - and often on cable, no less - with considerable success. Perhaps reaction to the Vulgarity Sweepstakes is already beginning to simmer.

An Article from The New York Times

Fox's Blue-Collar Comedy vs. ABC's: No Contest

Published: December 1, 1988

Al Bundy sells women's shoes and hates the work. He once told a customer her feet resembled ''rib roasts with nails.'' He and his spendthrift wife, Peggy, are always barking at each other. She's a miserable housewife; he's a pathetic provider. Their two teen-agers are the sort you worry more about keeping out of prison than getting into college.

''Married . . . With Children,'' a half-hour comedy about the Bundys that appears at 8:30 Sunday nights on the Fox television network, focuses on the warts of blue-collar family life. Instead of hugs and smooches, there are hassles and sneers. Last year, the show finished its first season ranking 142d out of 163 shows in the ratings. John O'Connor, the television critic of The New York Times, said it had set ''almost weekly milestones in vulgarity.''

Roseanne and Dan (they don't give any last names) are a blue-collar Illinois couple. He works in construction. She's employed in a plastics factory. They have a lot of spats over things like unclogging a drain and toast crumbs left by their children on the butter. Their three youngsters often seem on the verge of killing one another.

''Roseanne,'' which is shown Tuesday nights at 8:30 on ABC and also illuminates the imperfections of a working-class family, made its debut a month ago. After its first four shows, it was the second most popular show on television, according to the A. C. Nielsen Company.

So how do the creators of ''Married . . . With Children'' feel about the sharply different receptions of their show and ''Roseanne''?

''Phenomenally bitter, I think,'' said Ron Leavitt, a co-creator.

''Yeah, we're not real good sports about it,'' said Michael Moye, the other co-creator. Fox's Struggles

They were kidding, mostly. But the fates thus far of ''Married . . . With Children'' and ''Roseanne'' suggest a lot about the long odds facing the Fox Broadcasting Company, which has has been struggling to create a fourth commercial television network in prime time since it began in 1986.

Last year, in its first full season of programming, Fox lost about $94 million. Last month, in a significant blow to its ambitions, Fox scrapped its dismally received week night ''Late Show,'' with the comedian Joan Rivers as the host when the talk show began, cutting its weekly prime-time programming nearly in half - to 5 1/2 hours on Saturday and Sunday evenings from 10 1/2. Fox does no original programming on other days.

While advertising executives continue to root for Fox, since it offers an alternative to the three major networks, many worry about its chances. ''I'm not sure they didn't make an error in scheduling Saturday,'' said Paul Schulman, who buys television air time for advertisers. ''The programming is appealing to a younger audience. The people at home on Saturday night are not young. It's a night when people watch NBC or rent a cassette. I'm not sure they wouldn't have done better scheduling Sunday and, say, Wednesday night.'' On Saturday nights, Fox's two original shows are ''Reporters'' and ''Beyond Tomorrow.''

Depending on how the new season goes, Fox's plans at this point are to return to late-night television next spring and then to introduce two hours of Monday night programming by early summer.

By looking at the experience of ''Married . . . With Children,'' the gulf between Fox and the three more established networks becomes starkly evident. Something Not for Everyone

Mr. Leavitt and Mr. Moye conceived the idea for the comedy out of the conviction that the construction workers, plumbers and delicatessen butchers of the world had nothing pertinent to watch on television. ''We saw how Cosby was a red-hot hit,'' Mr. Leavitt said. ''We sat around thinking: does anyone have a family like that? Wasn't there a family where the guy had a job that he hated?''

The creators picked the shoe clerk job for Mr. Bundy because, as Mr. Leavitt put it: ''We couldn't think of anything that would depress a man more. There seemed something about kneeling at the foot of a fat woman and trying to wedge her foot into a shoe that was incredibly depressing.'' Barr Rejected for Role

Oddly enough, when Mr. Leavitt and Mr. Moye pitched the show to Fox executives, they mentioned Roseanne Barr (now the star of ''Roseanne'') as a prototype for the role of the wife and played a videotape of Ms. Barr's stand-up comedy act. Mr. Leavitt, though, thought her voice might grate on people. Mr. Moye felt that they needed more glamorous actors playing the main roles.

When ''Married . . . With Children'' was signed, Fox was confident the show would be its biggest hit and was predicting ratings for it that were double what it achieved. It finished last season with a 4.6 rating and a 7 share, according to figures provided by the Nielsen company. After four programs, ''Roseanne'' enjoyed an average rating of 22.3 and a 33 share.

Each rating point represents about 904,000 television households and the share signifies the percentage of televisions in use.

The early weeks of the new season have had some sunshine for ''Married . . . With Children.'' The opening segment drew a 9.4 rating and a 13 share, and on Sunday the show got a 10.5 rating and a 15 share, the best rating of a regular prime-time Fox show. It was 48th in the list of shows. But that's still a long way from being a hit. As Brad Turell, Fox's senior vice president, put it: ''We think in terms of getting out of the bottom 10. The others think in terms of getting into the top 10.'' 'Archie Bunker Updated'

Mr. Schulman is one of the biggest fans of ''Married . . . With Children.'' ''I just think 'Married' is hysterically funny,'' he said. ''It's Archie Bunker updated. If it played at 9 o'clock Tuesday behind 'Roseanne' on the ABC lineup, I think it would play at a 30 percent share.''

Though small, the show's audience seems loyal. Mr. Moye pointed out: ''We get a lot of mail stamped 'inmate mail.' We seem to do well in institutions where there is one television and large audiences.'' Whose Idea Was It? The big audience and explosion of publicity surrounding ''Roseanne'' have frustrated Fox executives. In fact, Mr. Turell said he felt that ''Roseanne'' is clearly based on ''Married . . . With Children.'' ''It's a good show,'' he said, ''but it's derived from our show. You can't deny that.''

Matt Williams, a former ''Cosby'' show writer who created ''Roseanne'' and is its head writer, does deny that. He said he had never seen ''Married . . . With Children'' when he came up with ''Roseanne.'' The idea hit him, he said, because he, too, felt that television was not presenting a realistic picture of most peoples' lives.

''Roseanne'' is unquestionably warmer than ''Married . . . With Children.'' There are more hugs and kisses and tender moments. The Bundys are relentlessly acerbic. ''They will occasionally kiss and hug,'' said Mr. Moye, ''but not as a sign that the show is two-and-a-half minutes from being over.''

An Article from The New York Times

THE MEDIA BUSINESS; A Mother Is Heard as Sponsors Abandon a TV Hit

Published: March 2, 1989

A one-woman campaign by an angry Michigan mother has prompted several of the nation's largest advertisers to cancel commercials on the Fox Broadcasting Company's top-rated series and to review their television advertising policies.

Procter & Gamble, McDonald's, Tambrands and Kimberly-Clark have instructed their advertising agencies not to buy further time on the program ''Married . . . With Children.'' The situation comedy depicts the daily tribulations of the Bundys, a blue-collar family that vents its frustration with what critics have called lacerating and frequently lewd humor.

In an interview the Michigan woman, Terry Rakolta, said she had objected to the program because of its ''blatant exploitation of women and sex and anti-family attitudes.''

The president of Coca-Cola USA, Ira C. Herbert, apologized in a letter to Mrs. Rakolta for running a commercial during the program, saying he was ''corporately, professionally and personally embarrassed'' that an advertisement for Coca-Cola had appeared.

Coca-Cola and several other companies said they would change their procedures for screening programs on which they advertise, largely in response to the letters by Mrs. Rakolta, who lives in Bloomfield Hills, a wealthy suburb of Detroit. Johnson & Johnson and American Home Products had already decided not to advertise on the show.

The cancellation of commercials reflects the growing sensitivity of television advertisers to the more provocative programs being produced since the Federal Communications Commission began deregulating the industry under the Reagan Administration. The growth of cable television has also encouraged broadcasters to program material that once would have been rejected as inappropriate.

Fox executives dismissed the financial effect of the action, saying the program is solidly booked with advertising through this season, and even has a waiting list. But Jamie Kellner, president of the Fox network, said he had asked the producers of the program to tone down its script because ''they were pushing the show a little too far.'' He denied that the changes were the result of Mrs. Rakolta's complaints.

A spokeswoman for Fox Inc., which owns the network, said Rupert Murdoch, the company's owner, and Barry Diller, the chairman, were traveling yesterday and were unavailable for comment.

Executives at several companies and advertising industry experts said the response to one person's complaints was highly unusual. ''This goes beyond our normal concern for such consumer reaction,'' said Tony Tortoricci, a spokesman for Coca-Cola. On the Air Since '87

It is not unusual for advertisers to withdraw commercials from controversial programs or from those deemed potentially offensive. But ''Married . . . With Children'' has been on the air since the spring of 1987 and is the most successful series to date on the fledgling Fox network.Last week the program had its highest rating ever.

Mrs. Rakolta, who is 41 years old, began her letter-writing campaign on Jan. 15, after she sat down with three of her children to watch an episode of the program, which is broadcast on Sunday evenings at 8:30. In an interview, she said she was ''appalled'' by the sexual innuendo and treatment of women on the program, particularly its references to homosexuality and a sequence featuring a woman publicly removing her bra. 'Diet of Gratuitous Sex'

She wrote to the 45 companies that advertised on that and subsequent episodes, accusing them of ''helping to feed our kids a steady diet of gratuitous sex and violence.''

Mrs. Rakolta, whose husband owns a construction company, said she had never taken up a social or political cause, and had limited her affiliations to country clubs and the boards of several Detroit cultural institutions.

''I care that there are advertisers out there paying the freight for this,'' she said. ''They're taking my dollars and putting them into soft-core pornography.''

Executives at Fox acknowledged that ''Married . . . With Children'' stretches the limits of acceptable programming, but said its provocative scripts and situations are merely a realistic depiction of lower-middle-class family values.

''Al Bundy is not supposed to be a sophisticated man who recognizes that women are equal to men,'' Mr. Kellner said, referring to the father of the family, a shoe-store clerk who frequently berates and belittles his wife.

Mr. Kellner called the show a descendant of the situation comedies of the 1970's, like ''All in the Family'' and ''Maude,'' which explored controversial issues in a humorous but trenchant way. ''With ground-breaking shows, it's difficult to make judgments,'' he said. 'Blatantly Crude'

The show has its adherents. Paul Schulman, head of the Paul Schulman Company, a service that buys television time for advertisers, called it ''the second-funniest show on TV, after 'Cheers.' ''

John J. O'Connor, television critic for The New York Times, wrote that ''Married . . . With Children'' was ''blatantly crude.'' He described the show as depicting ''marriage with the wife as bimbo and the husband as determined chauvinist.'' Among the scenes he objected to was one in which a family's dog is shot while having a bowel movement.

Mr. Kellner said Fox had received no more complaints about the show than about its other programs. He accused Mrs. Rakolta of taking scenes out of context to build her case. He said that Mrs. Rakolta had misinterpreted an exchange between two male characters as a reference to homosexuality, and that the scene of a woman removing her bra was filmed from behind.

But Mr. Kellner added, ''Occasionally, you'll see things and say, 'Wow, how did that get by?' ''

Fox executives refused to provide a tape of the episode in question.

Mr. Kellner said his decision to tone down the program had no connection to Mrs. Rakolta's campaign. He said he wanted to eliminate ''a group of double-entendres and innuendos'' from the program.

But he acknowledged that he had reviewed the episode in question after receiving Mrs. Rakolta's complaints. A Loyal Audience

''Married . . . With Children'' has garnered a loyal audience, particularly among men between the ages of 18 and 49, Mr. Kellner said. The show's ratings have climbed steadily since its first season. Last week the program scored the second-highest rating and share in its competitive Sunday evening slot, behind the perennial CBS hit ''Murder, She Wrote,'' according to the A. C. Nielsen Company. The Fox show had a rating of 12.5 points - each point represents 904,000 households - and drew 18 percent of the viewing audience.

But strong ratings and arguments for artistic integrity have not stopped advertisers from dropping the show. A spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble said the company reviewed ''Married . . . With Children'' after receiving Mrs. Rakolta's letter and canceled further advertising because of its ''negative portrayal of the American family.''

Coca-Cola will not drop its advertising completely, but will make decisions ''on an episode-by-episode basis,'' said Mr. Tortoricci, a company spokesman. He added that Mr. Herbert was prompted to take action by Mrs. Rakolta's letter.

Several companies alerted by Mrs. Rakolta's letter said they would tighten screening procedures. Some said they would add Fox television shows as well as syndicated programs to the list of those that are reviewed. Previously, these advertisers had screened only network programming for acceptability.

Tambrands, which pulled ads from ''Married . . . With Children'' after receiving a letter from Mrs. Rakolta, said it had not reviewed the episode before its ads ran. Paul Konney, a spokesman, said the company would seek ''better pre-screening of non-network programs.''

A spokesman for Kimberly-Clark said the company took action after reviewing the offending episode.

An advertisement for Wendy's appeared on the Jan. 29 episode. If the episode had been screened by the company, it would have been rejected as inappropriate, said Ronald T. Polk, director of media services at Wendy's International Inc. ''We need to review our entire screening process,'' he said.

Despite the vows of companies to tighten procedures, few people in the industry predicted that advertisers would abandon the show or other popular syndicated programs like ''Geraldo'' and ''The Morton Downey Jr. Show'' in any great numbers.

Mrs. Rakolta, who has written hundreds of letters to advertisers protesting the Fox program, said she planned to start an organization ''to identify, target and boycott advertisers who advertise on these shows.''

Mrs. Rakolta said she was surprised by the response to her campaign. ''I expected to be disregarded,'' she said. News Corporationd (Fox)

An Article from Time Magazine

Putting A Brake on TV "Sleaze"
Monday, Mar. 20, 1989


TV's sin-and-sex parade marches on. Highlights on last week's tabloid shows ranged from a story on "the undercover Romeo," a drug informant who allegedly lured innocent women into dope deals, to an ogling visit to a topless coffee shop. Can't something be done, critics and concerned viewers cry, about such tasteless shows? Now a campaign against TV sleaze appears to be gathering steam. But the cure may be worse than the disease.

The issue leaped to the fore two weeks ago, when a Michigan housewife, Terry Rakolta, became an instant celebrity for her successful letter-writing campaign against the bawdy Fox network sitcom Married . . . With Children. Responding to her complaints, several major advertisers, including Kimberly- Clark and Procter & Gamble, said they would no longer run ads on the show because of its "offensive" content. The sitcom -- Fox's highest-rated show -- is in no mortal danger: ad time is sold out for the season, Fox officials say, and only one company, Tambrands, actually canceled a scheduled commercial because of Rakolta's complaints.

Her one-woman ground swell, however, has exposed a growing skittishness among advertisers. While many are "tonnage" buyers, willing to place their commercials anywhere, others carefully select shows in order to avoid being associated with questionable material. With the proliferation of so-called trash TV, the number of troublesome programs has multiplied. Among them are such tabloid shows as A Current Affair, Inside Edition and The Reporters; sensational talk programs like The Morton Downey Jr. Show and Geraldo; and occasional over-the-edge network offerings like Geraldo Rivera's NBC special last fall on Satanism.

Most of these shows do quite well in the ratings. But as the Married . . . With Children flap demonstrated, ratings are not everything, even along Madison Avenue. "What Married . . . With Children has done is make everybody take a sharper look at standards," says Betsy Frank, a senior vice president of Saatchi & Saatchi advertising. NBC, under attack for its low-road programming, is re-creating the position of vice president of program standards and policy, eliminated last year for budgetary reasons. The network is also setting up meetings with ad executives to explain its policy for screening out offensive material.

In a TV marketplace that seems to be operating with fewer and fewer restraints, it is ironic that advertisers have become the new guardians of quality. The trouble is: Whose definition of quality? Campaigns against "tasteless" shows usually come from the most conservative elements of American society. One pressure group, Christian Leaders for Responsible TV, is making plans to monitor TV programming this spring and to organize a boycott of major sponsors of "anti-Christian" shows. Rakolta's objections to Married . . . With Children managed to miss totally the show's satirical point. This sitcom family -- male-chauvinist husband, unliberated wife, sluttish teenage daughter -- is being lampooned by exaggeration. The same sort of complaints -- just as misguided -- were launched against the bigoted Archie Bunker in the early 1970s.

One does not have to like Married . . . With Children or TV's tabloid shows to be disturbed by campaigns to drive them from the air. Advertiser boycotts, if successful, do not make TV better, only blander. They also reveal a remarkable lack of faith in the ability of viewers to lodge the ultimate protest: turning off the set.

With reporting by Mary Cronin and Naushad S. Mehta/New York

An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on September 13, 1991

Pop Culture News

By Lisa Schwarzbaum

Kelly Bundy is a tough, trampy teenage airhead, a baby-faced nubile danger zone with bright red lips, bright yellow hair, and bright black mascara. She's a self-styled slut-in-training and an academic disaster. Kelly's got a head made for chewing gum and a bod made for Lycra. On Fox's Married With Children she's got a gross dad, a crude mom, a dork brother. In millions of smitten viewers, she's also got an ardent fan club. Christina Applegate, on the other hand, is a pale, poised, eerily articulate baby-faced 19-year-old actress who chooses to dress, on a sticky- hot L.A. late-summer afternoon, in black jeans, black leotard, and big black clump-kicker boots. She has tied a dark green sweater around her waist and her hair is pinned up, lank and uncombed. She wears big silver earrings, no makeup. She has Anne Rice's bloodsucker novel Interview With the Vampire on her dressing-room coffee table. ''I've got roots to here right now because I've been lazy,'' she says, pointing three inches down from the top of her luke-blond head. It's the cast's first week back on the Married set following what all of Los Angeles intimately calls The Hiatus between production seasons. Applegate spent the last three weeks of her summer vacation tootling around Europe. ''They (the producers) don't know I've cut five inches off. I'm trying to hide it.'' She announces she'd like to chop off all her hair. She says she wants to dye it. ''I'd like a change. I'm a kid!'' she says adultly. ''I've been blond for 19 years and I'm so sick of it.'' That's Christina Applegate talking, being provocative, reminding everyone who is in doubt that she is not Kelly Bundy. Kelly Bundy is on the cover of this magazine's Fall TV Preview issue because Kelly is television: She exists only as a character on a sitcom, yet she exists so vividly (those lips! that sewer mouth!) that grown men leer at her, teenage boys drool at her, girls and women giggle at her, and everyone is on to her nasty charm. She's safe sex. She's too much. She's just right for these times, this tube. But Applegate is someone else. If Kelly exemplifies TV today, Christina is a product of the business that begat the Bundys. She's a child of Hollywood who began her professional career at the age of 3 months, earned enough money to buy a house by the time she was 7, and dropped out of high school at 16 to work full- time in TV (credits include Charles in Charge, Silver Spoons, and a starring role in ABC's Heart of the City). She's a working-stiff actress who says she spends 60 to 70 percent of her life keeping her body in shape for the job. (''I think it's sick that we have to do that, because acting is from the soul, not from the body, but this business is all about appearance.'') She's a thoughtful, likable young woman who lives with her boyfriend in a new house, just down the street from her mother, actress Nancy Priddy. She regrets having dropped out of high school. She wishes she could take lit courses, study photography, learn how to play musical instruments. She has a wardrobe and makeup call in five minutes. Applegate says she wishes she could reform Kelly. ''I think over the last couple of years Kelly's gotten dumber and dumber and dumber, and she's on her way to being a complete vegetable,'' she warns. ''I'd love to see her turn her whole life around, do something progressive.'' But Applegate also knows what's what in the industry she is committed to. Her first big feature movie, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, came and - went this summer to mediocre reviews. She has no plans to quit her day job. ''People say to me, 'Why do you always play teenagers?''' she complains. ''I say, 'What do you want me to play, a judge?' I look 12.'' Not with her Bundy look, she doesn't. Which is why Christina Applegate won't be cutting her hair off soon. Not now. Not while the Bundys are in town. -

An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on November 25, 1994

Television News
Head of the Crass
''Married with Children'''s legacy -- The Bundys carved out a spot in television history

By A.J. Jacobs

As the camera starts rolling, Ed O'Neill's face takes on its trademark Cro-Magnon expression. Al Bundy, his inept shoe-salesman character, scours the X-rated section of a video store. ''Schindler's Lust,'' he reads aloud approvingly. ''Booty and the Beast, and ah, my favorite, Forrest Hump.''

The studio audience, heavy with baseball-cap-wearing dudes, whoops it up like a bunch of Raiders fans after a sack. (Taping sometimes has to stop so they can be asked to pipe down.) A whiskey-breathed woman from Kentucky leans over, fanning herself with a ''Hell Yes I Watch Married...With Children'' bumper sticker. ''I want to make love to Al Bundy,'' she confides.

Such is the fervor Married...With Children still inspires. Now in its ninth season, Fox's half hour of crassness is the longest-running sitcom currently on network TV, having racked up more seasons than either The Mary Tyler Moore Show or I Love Lucy. Not bad for a show its creators expected would be canceled after 13 episodes, a show even its stars don't hesitate to call ''the ugly stepchild of Hollywood,'' a show that has yet to win a single Emmy. The secret? A hint can be found in the staff's original nickname for the program: The Anti-Cosby Show.

''We started the show as a response to the wave of sitcoms with an idealized family the kind with clean sweaters, clean teeth, and clean hair,'' says Michael Moye, who created the show with then partner Ron Leavitt. ''They were 22-minute morality plays that ended with a gang hug. We thought somewhere out there, there's a group of people not being represented.''

Enter the Bundys. There's Al, who makes Archie Bunker look downright debonair; Peg (Katey Sagal), the Oprah-addicted housewife who, in the first episode, replaced her husband's alarm clock with a hand-slicing cactus; Bud (David Faustino), the son who, his father says, would ''have sex with a fire hydrant''; and Kelly (Christina Applegate), the bouncy, peroxided half-wit with a talent for mangling English (e.g., ''I hope he doesn't make a testicle of himself'').

The formula worked. Married snagged an audience that often makes it one of Fox's highest-rated shows. In syndication, the program trails only Roseanne in popularity-which explains why 177 stations pay a total of $1.5 million per episode to rerun it. Married has even helped give Fox an identity, adolescent though it may be.

Who exactly is watching? According to Moye, Married found its first fans at ''colleges, the military, and in prison.'' Network suits describe it a bit more dryly: Married's core viewers, they say, are 18- to 49-year-old men a coveted demographic for advertisers. Usually, sitcoms appeal more to women, but Married hooks the testosterone crowd for several reasons: Its humor is locker-room, aggressive, insult driven. On every episode, you'll see at least one gratuitous cleavage shot or exposed navel. And Married's network competition Sunday night movies-is geared to women. The show also grabs a younger audience than do most sitcoms. ''The MTV generation appreciates a little sicker sense of humor,'' says Larry Gerbrandt, a senior analyst with Paul Kagan Associates, a media consulting firm.

Still, Married might not have become a success were it not for Terry Rakolta. In 1989, outraged that her kids were exposed to such naughty bits as leather pasties and garter belts, the Michigan housewife sent protest letters to all the show's advertisers. In the resulting brouhaha, one advertiser pulled out, and an episode about motel Peeping Toms was shelved. But the publicity gave Married a huge ratings boost. ''I look for my fruit basket from Fox every Christmas,'' Rakolta says, laughing, though she still carries on the fight against the show.

Today, Married continues to spark occasional controversy. Witness the trickle of hate mail from a fat-women's group or Fox execs' freak-out over a two-parter in which Al lobbies Congress to keep violence on TV. (Slated for last year, the disputed shows will finally air Dec. 11 and 18.)

But for the most part, America has accepted the Bundys. In fact, Married's white-trash ethos-its brutish, dark, etiquette-free, politically incorrect manner-has spread across the airwaves. The Simpsons, Beavis and Butt-head, The John Larroquette Show, and Roseanne followed in the wake of Married's success. (Married, by the way, was originally written for Roseanne and the late comedian Sam Kinison.) Seinfeld may have achieved notoriety with an episode about masturbation, but as Married's Applegate points out, ''We've been doing masturbation for years.''

''We really led the way,'' adds Amanda Bearse, who plays the Bundys' neurotic neighbor Marcy. ''We ushered in another cycle (of cynical shows). But we're still probably the most mean-spirited. Everyone on our show is humiliated on a weekly basis.''

An Article from The New York Times

Wave goodbye to the Bundys, blue-collar champions of the Fox network.

Published: May 5, 1997

NOW that the geyser of publicity surrounding ''Ellen'' has finally subsided, television viewers can turn their attention to a milestone of a different sort: the final episode of ''Married . . . With Children,'' which will be shown at 9 tonight on the Fox network.

''Married . . . With Children,'' you may recall, is a situation comedy that chronicles the daily tribulations of Al Bundy, a working stiff whose gutter mouth and gleeful cynicism made him the antithesis of Bill Cosby when the program began in 1987. For 11 seasons, Al has spewed good-natured venom at his garish wife, Peg, and his unruly kids, Kelly and Bud.

When the Bundys sign off tonight -- after a characteristically cheesy episode that involves a prison pen pal, a kidnapping and a wedding -- it will be the end of one of the longest-running comedies on TV. Measured by sheer longevity, ''Married . . . With Children'' will take its place alongside classics like ''Cheers,'' ''M.A.S.H.'' and ''Happy Days.''

While that thought may chagrin TV purists, the show's significance extends beyond its age. ''Married . . . With Children'' was Fox's first prime-time series, and it helped turn a long-shot business venture by Rupert Murdoch into the nation's fourth network. With its lowbrow humor and unabashed celebration of blue-collar life, it also set the stage for an era of up-from-the-trailer-park shows -- everything from ''The Simpsons'' and ''Roseanne'' to ''Men Behaving Badly.''

''The show was a breakthrough, though not necessarily in the way that the industry likes to think of breakthroughs,'' said Kathryn C. Montgomery, the president of the Center for Media Education, which focuses on children's programming.
Yet the most lasting legacy of ''Married . . . With Children'' may be how well it weathered the noisy events of March 1989, when a Michigan mother, Terry Rakolta, turned on the show one evening and was outraged by what she saw. The ensuing controversy became a ratings and advertising windfall for ''Married . . . With Children,'' and established a pattern followed by many other programs, including last week's self-consciously provocative ''Ellen.''

''Married . . . With Children'' wasn't looking for trouble back in 1989. But Mrs. Rakolta fired off letters to the main sponsors of the show. And she persuaded several of them -- including Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark and Tambrands -- to yank their commercials.

After her efforts were featured on the front page of The New York Times, Mrs. Rakolta, who could not be reached for this article, became an instant celebrity -- embarking on the now-familiar circuit of morning news programs, daytime talk shows and ABC's Nightline. She even started her own pressure group, Americans for Responsible Television.

Executives at Fox defended ''Married . . . With Children'' as a satire of the then-prevailing trend of saccharine sitcoms, like ''The Cosby Show'' and ''Family Ties.'' Indeed, the co-creators of the show, Michael G. Moye and Ron Leavitt, dubbed their pilot ''Not the Cosbys.''

But with parents starting to worry about the erosion of standards in television programming, the network was fearful. ''Fox was a very fragile network, and we were losing a lot of money,'' said Jamie Kellner, the former president of Fox who is now the president of the WB network. ''My first reaction was tha we were going to be viewed as reckless and irresponsible.''

Of course, quite the opposite happened. People tuned in to ''Married . . . With Children'' to see what the fuss was about. The show's Nielsen ratings spiked up, and it became the first hit show on Fox's prime-time schedule. ''We should have sent Terry Rakolta roses,'' said Garth Ancier, the former president of Fox's entertainment division.

Even the loss of a big sponsor like Procter & Gamble ended up benefiting Fox. Because it was a fledgling network, Fox had sold commercial time on ''Married . . . With Children'' at a deep discount. After Procter & Gamble and others bolted, the network resold the slots for more money because the ratings had increased.

History repeated itself last week on ''Ellen.'' When ABC announced last month that the character played by the star of the show, Ellen DeGeneres, would proclaim she was a lesbian, the Rev. Jerry Falwell and other prominent conservatives urged an advertiser boycott. Several regular sponsors did opt to stay away -- though just one, the Chrysler Corporation, explained its reasons publicly. No matter: ABC promptly sold the time at a premium, and the ratings for that episode soared.

Indeed, in almost every respect, ''Ellen'' followed the path cleared by ''Married . . . With Children'' eight years ago. Controversial subject matter ignites public protests, which causes sponsors to flee, which draws in more viewers, which begets more advertising revenue. What was extraordinary in 1989 seems almost preordained in 1997.

Even programs that suffered temporarily from campaigns to put pressure on advertisers, like Steven Bochco's ''N.Y.P.D. Blue,'' have survived and even flourished.

Yet the end of ''Married . . . With Children'' may augur a more unexpected change in the nature of television. After years of increasingly tasteless programming, Mr. Ancier said he was noticing a ''backlash against harsh language, sexual situations and violence.'' At the WB network, where Mr. Kellner has reassembled the team that began Fox, the watchword is family-friendly programs between 8 and 9 P.M.

''We think the landscape has shifted too far,'' said Mr. Kellner, who has a 7-year-old son. ''Everybody was trying to outfox Fox. Our goal is to be the opposite of what Fox is.''

Mr. Kellner even noted proudly that the WB network had received eight ''green lights'' for its family-friendly programming from the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group. Fox and NBC, he noted, received none.

If he and Terry Rakolta were on a panel these days, they would not have much to argue about.

Here is Ron Leavitt's Obituary from The Boston Globe

Ron Leavitt; helped create 'Married...With Children'; 60

February 17, 2008

LOS ANGELES - Ron Leavitt, a television writer and producer best known for cocreating "Married . . . With Children," the raunchy, groundbreaking sitcom that helped put the fledgling Fox network on the map in the late 1980s, has died. He was 60.

Mr. Leavitt died of lung cancer Sunday at his suburban Los Angeles home, said publicist Larry Winokur.

"He was one of the funniest guys I ever knew," Ed O'Neill, who played Al Bundy on "Married . . . With Children," said Monday. "He had a very original way of thinking in terms of comedy; he was a brilliant comedic writer."

David Duclon, one of Mr. Leavitt's former writing and producing partners, agreed.

"We lost a tremendous talent," Duclon said. "He had a very unique and sardonic view of the world that he was able to translate into his writing, and yet personally he was one of the sweetest, gentlest, kindest men I've ever known."

"The Cosby Show," Bill Cosby's family sitcom on NBC, was TV's top-rated show when "Married . . . With Children" debuted on Fox in April 1987. Mr. Leavitt and cocreator Michael G. Moye called their new comedy series "the anti-Cosby."

"People love the naughtiness - that here was a guy, Al Bundy, who said the things about his life, about his wife, that we all sometimes think but can never say out loud," Mr. Leavitt told the Los Angeles Times in 1997.

Mr. Leavitt said the show was his and Moye's "adolescent rebellion against all those shows where everyone sat together at the dinner table and got along and talked and hugged and solved the world's problems in 22 minutes."

"And I think for people, [the show] just became a guilty pleasure - something that they knew was always going to be nothing but funny," he said.

Not everyone thought so.

Terry Rakolta, a Michigan housewife concerned with the series' racy content, launched a high-profile campaign to pressure advertisers to boycott the show. A few advertisers reportedly pulled their commercials, but ratings for "Married . . . With Children" went even higher. "Married . . . With Children" ended in 1997.

Born in Brooklyn on Nov. 7, 1947, Mr. Leavitt graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in journalism. He worked as a reporter in the Miami area before launching his television career as a writer on the 1977 sitcom "Busting Loose," starring Adam Arkin.

"Ron came on as a staff writer and immediately impressed everybody with his talent and ability," said Duclon.

Duclon and Mr. Leavitt worked a season as supervising producers on "Laverne & Shirley" before joining "The Jeffersons" as coexecutive producers; a season later, they took over as executive producers and show-runners through 1982.

Mr. Leavitt, Duclon, and another producer on "The Jeffersons," Moye, then developed the 1982-86 sitcom "Silver Spoons." Mr. Leavitt also cocreated "Top of the Heap," a 1991 "Married . . . With Children" spin-off series starring Joseph Bologna and Matt LeBlanc; and he created "Vinnie & Bobby," a 1992 spin-off of the previous series starring LeBlanc and Robert Torti.

Mr. Leavitt also created "Unhappily Ever After," a sitcom that ran on the WB network from 1995 to 1999.

To watch some clips from MWC go to

For Tim's TV Showcase go to

For a Website dedicated to MWC go to

For a site dedicated to MWC go to

For a website dedicated to MWC go to

To look at Text scripts of many episodes go to

For some Married with Children-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to

For a great review of Married With Children go to
Date: Sun May 9, 2004 � Filesize: 28.2kb � Dimensions: 399 x 500 �
Keywords: Married With Children Cast (Links Updated 7/31/18)


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