Family sitcoms were wholesome entertainment for decades. Dad knew best, Mom took care of everyone, and the kids made mistakes and then learned a lesson from them. You could make them funny in different ways, but in the end, they showed you a happy family. By the ’80s, Michael G. Moye and Ron Leavitt wanted to write about something different- an unhappy family. The result was Married… with Children, which debuted in 1987.
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When the show was first pitched, Moye and Leavitt envisioned Sam Kinison as Al Bundy, the unsuccessful shoe salesman whose high school football glory is never far from his mind. The series creators had also hoped to snag Roseanne Barr for the role of Peggy, a stay-at-home mom who rarely left the couch. The producers reportedly modeled the characters after Kinison’s and Barr’s stand-up personas, which were popular but not exactly lovable. The two stand-ups passed on the show, with the latter debuting her own series about a less-than-perfect family just a year later on ABC. Kinison would later guest star in the season-four episode “It’s A Bundyful Life.”
Married… with Children became a hit, and ran ten years. The A.V. Club gives us a history of the program as an intro to a list (with video evidence) of the ten most essential episodes of Married… with Children. Or, as they say, “10 episodes that saw the Bundys at their best, which was the same as their worst.”