There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity — like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule — that’s what I do. Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel — it’s vulgar.
All In The Family premiered in 1971. Things had calmed down a bit since 1968, but the culture war was still pretty lively. Archie and Mike represented the polar opposites of Right and Left as well as the divide between Boomers and their parents. (In the long run, Mike turned out to be the real jerk.)
All in the Family didn’t “take on” the culture war. It used humor to bring people together. Both sides could watch the show and find things to laugh at and characters to like. It helped heal the breach that existed in America back then.
There is a reason that the far right and the left both hate Trump. He is winning the Middle. He is healing the breach. We didn’t get here overnight, and we won’t get out of this mess by tomorrow. But we are heading in the right direction.