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Rosanne's Vomit

Married With Children

By Brian R. Hecht

Married With Children is often called the epitome of the Fox "anti-sitcom"--the Bundys are everything the Bradys were not. But Fox doesn't settle for cultural dichotomies. No, that would be too easy.

Here's a better way to think about it: Imagine if the Cleavers, the Bradys and the Bunkers were tossed raw into an oversized postmodern blender. Now imagine that Roseanne Barr drinks the chunky concoction and vomits into a family-shaped jello mold. Chill and serve Sundays at 9. Voila! May I present...the Bundys.

Archie Bunker used to elicit subtle chuckles when his distant toilet flushes echoed through the Bunker house. When patriarch A1 Bundy runs to the john, the conversation inevitably turns to constipation and masturbation. Roseanne wins affection for her lovable white-trash quips. The overhaired, undersexed leopard-skinclad Peg Bundy can only dream of the life of subtle sophistication enjoyed by Ms. Barr.

The children are no better. Boy Bud is a hormone-drenched lecherous sleaze, and daughter Kelly could become a professional prostitute, if only she were willing to forfeit her amateur status.

The situations in this "situation" comedy are supremely fitting for a family with such class. In one recent two-part episode, A1 refuses to buy a functioning air conditioner in the heat of the summer, so the family takes up residence in the frozen-foods aisle of the local supermarket. The Bundys--who seem middle-class but frequently cry poverty--often contemplate dinners of dog food.

Earlier comedies have succeeded by tinkering with our standard notions of American life, but in the end they always restore our faith in love, family and, most importantly, the American Sitcom itself.

In contrast, Married is a truly disgusting show about wretched people. "Love" never enters into it. This "family" would probably benefit from nice, Kramer-style divorce. And as for the American Sitcom, this show represents everything that is mediocre--no, reprehensible--about the drivel that nightly spews from our television sets. It is the dry heaves, the putrid bile that remains after Roseanne purges her undigested pop culture.

I think that's why I like it so much.

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