MARRIED WITH CHILDREN - 10 Most Outrageous Moments
In 1996, a parents advocacy group called Married With Children “the crudest comedy on primetime television.” Ed O’Neill, who starred as Chicago shoe salesman Al Bundy, was not surprised.
“It was designed to be crude,” he said of the sitcom that made him a TV icon. “It was designed to go right up to that line, and to sometimes go over it.”
“Shock humor” succeeds until the audience isn’t shocked anymore, then it’s quickly forgotten. Married With Children endured for 11 seasons because the outrageous moments were earned. They made narrative sense in sharply satirical stories with honest characterizations that still resonate today. As Sinatra sang in the theme song, “You can’t have one without the other.”
Even if you’ve never watched an episode, you probably know the characters: working stiff Al (O’Neill), his lazy wife Peg (Katey Sagal), their dim daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate), and loveable loser son Bud (David Faustino). Living next door are prissy Marcy (Amanda Bearse), her first husband Steve (David Garrison), and later second husband Jefferson (Ted McGinley), Al’s chief co-conspirator.
Some call Married With Children raunchy. They’re right, but only partially. What allowed the Bundys to generate big laughs — and even bigger controversy — for 260 episodes was a commitment to correcting the untruths family sitcoms had been telling us for decades. These were imperfect people doing imperfect things, often for the worst reasons. There was no happy ending. In the Bundys, we saw ourselves, our family members, or our friends at our hilarious worst.
getTV is proud to share this contemporary TV classic with viewers - here are 10 of the most outrageous moments to watch for!
1. You Better Watch Out (Season 2, Episode 13 — Original Airdate December 20, 1987)
When a sitcom episode is preceded by a disclaimer warning it may be “upsetting,” you better be prepared for something special. And this Christmas 1987 show — based on the actual life experience of a Married writer — does not disappoint! The shoe store where Al works is losing business to a fancy new shopping center. But Gary’s Shoes isn’t the only thing getting killed thanks to the Lakeside Mall.
2. The Camping Show (Season 3, Episode 4 — December 11, 1988)
Season three is the year Married With Children hit the big time. The Bundys came to represent everything that was wrong with TV, thanks to a protest by an “anti-obscenity” activist. The crusade had little impact on the show’s content, and ratings actually increased thanks to the publicity. But the network was increasingly skittish, as evidenced by their request to change the title of this episode. When we tell you that The Camping Show was originally titled A Period Piece, you can probably figure out the plot.
3. Her Cups Runneth Over (Season 3, Episode 6 — January 15, 1989)
When Peg’s favorite bra is discontinued, Al and Steve make a road trip to the underwear shop in Wisconsin to buy all the remaining stock as a birthday present. There, Al is asked for his opinion on lingerie. Perhaps more than any other, this was the scene that put Married With Children on the national radar.
4. I’ll See You In Court (Season 3, Episode 10 — Did Not Air)
When Peg wants to spice up her love life, Marcy suggests she and Al visit a shady motel called the Hop On In. Then they discover why Marcy and Steve like it so much. This show is known as “The Lost Episode,” because it never actually aired during the series’ original run. Nervous about protests over the show’s suggestive content, the network pulled it. It finally aired for the first time in syndication 13 years later.
5. 976-SHOE (Season 4, Episode 8 — November 12, 1989)
Loan officer Steve wants to earn a vacation for top performing employees from his bank, so he gives Al a $50,000 line of credit to start a business. That business? A phone hotline for shoe advice. Like all great sitcoms about working class dreamers, Married With Children had more than its share of get-rich-quick episodes. This is one of the funniest, and it has long term implications for the characters of Steve and Marcy.
6. You Better Shop Around – Part 1 (Season 5, Episode 21— April 14, 1991)
When their air conditioner breaks on the hottest day of the year, the Bundys decide to camp out in a supermarket. This episode (which aired in two parts) includes some of the show’s broadest physical comedy and continues Marcy’s evolution from fresh-faced newlywed to Al Bundy’s greatest adversary.
7. Business Sucks (Season 9, Episode 5 — October 2, 1994)
As the series progressed, Married added supporting characters, usually friends of Al’s. This episode features a memorably inappropriate moment between Al and his shoe store co-worker Griff (Harold Sylvester). Outside of the core cast (and Bundy family dogs Buck and Lucky), Griff makes more appearances than any other supporting character.
8. Reverend Al (Season 10, Episode 4 — October 8, 1995)
As Marcy and Al devolve from neighbors to sworn enemies, both start gender empowerment groups: F.A.N.G. (Feminists Against Neanderthal Guys) and NO MA’AM (National Organization Of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood). This episode finds Al trying to avoid paying tax on beer by turning NO MA’AM into an organized religion. Supporting characters Bob Rooney (E.E. Bell) and Ike (Tom McCleister) also appear.
9. Bud Hits The Books (Season 10, Episode 24 — April 28, 1996)
Bud’s lack of luck with the ladies is one of Married With Children’s best running gags. This episode finds the youngest Bundy, now in college, finally experiencing some success with the opposite sex. But when he has to focus on his studies, things get complicated.
10. Crimes Against Obesity (Season 11, Episode 9 — December 29, 1996)
All the women Al has mocked over the years return to Gary’s Shoes to seek revenge on him in a kangaroo court. With flashbacks to earlier shows, this final-season episode is almost like a retrospective of Ed O’Neill’s best (worst?) moments.
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