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Finally: We Now Understand Why Edith Loved Archie

The creator of "All in the Family" explains.

Archie Bunker was the character known as everyone's favorite "lovable bigot" on the 1970s television show "All in the Family." He was a working-class husband and father whose conservative worldview, short temper and gruff persona made audiences chuckle, but Archie was more than a misguided laugh factory... At his core, he was also miserable.

The show's creator, Norman Lear, opened up about this unforgettable TV patriarch, played by Carroll O'Connor, when he sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a conversation on "SuperSoul Sunday."

"[Archie Bunker was] miserable because he couldn't deal with progress," Lear explains. "Progress included a black family that moved next door. He was afraid of tomorrow."

The show did more than just hint that this was a character with a strong aversion to the future, Lear adds. "That started with the opening song: 'Those Were the Days,'" he points out.

Ultimately, it was Archie's fear that kept him so flawed. 

"Archie Bunker was a fearful man," Lear says. "And he was a fool because he knew so little."

Carroll O'Connor had the role of Archie Bunker on "All in the Family," alongside Jean Stapleton, who portrayed his wife,
Carroll O'Connor had the role of Archie Bunker on "All in the Family," alongside Jean Stapleton, who portrayed his wife, Edith, both shown here on set in 1976.

And yet, Archie's wife Edith -- who was often a target for some of his lighter jabs -- remained as loving and devoted as any spouse could. This, too, was an intentional part of writing the character development process. 

"We always asked ourselves, 'What would Jesus do?'" Lear says. "The Jesus we understand from everything we read and hear, not the way people performed. But the way they speak of him."

Through this lens, it seemed to make Archie, who was never intended to be viewed as malicious, appear in a different light. 

"Archie was a delightful human being to her," Lear says. "She loved the man."

"SuperSoul Sunday" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

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