With his iconic sitcoms on CBS in the Seventies, plus “Sanford and Son” on NBC and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” in syndication (also in that decade), Norman Lear arguably did more to change television programming and the national conversation than any producer before or since. The impact of his work continues to be felt to this day; in my opinion it has never been equaled and is much missed. Imagine if we had a top-rated comedy like “All in the Family” on television right now that was not afraid to take on tough topical issues of the moment such as the rise in racism, the crippling costs of health care for the working class and the impending tragi-comedy of the 2016 presidential election. Imagine one or more shows being watched by millions of people every week that didn’t preach and were free of lazy snark and encouraged families and friends to look beyond themselves and try to understand other people – allowing all of us to laugh at ourselves in the process. Where are Archie Bunker, Edith Bunker, Mike Stivic, George Jefferson, Lionel Jefferson, Maude Findlay, Anne Romano, Florida Evans and Fred Sanford when we need them?
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