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WATCH: Married With Children, Fox's First Ever Primetime Show, Debuted 34 Years Ago Today

  • David Faustino, Ed O]Neill, Katey Sagal, Christina Applegate, David Garrison, Amanda Bearse of Married With Children (Fox)
    David Faustino, Ed O]Neill, Katey Sagal, Christina Applegate, David Garrison, Amanda Bearse of Married With Children (Fox)

    On April 5, 1987, the Fox Broadcasting Company, which had been in operation for several months with only a late-night talk show hosted by Joan Rivers, made its first foray into primetime programming, and the very first thing they showed was this pilot episode of Married... With Children, a dysfunctional family sitcom in an era when properly functional TV families like the Huxtables were dominant. This kind of irreverence mirrored the upstart nature of the Fox network at the time, when they were trying to compete with CBS, NBC, and ABC, still considered "the Big Three Networks." 

    In this pilot episode, we see the patriarch is misogynist shoe salesman Al Bundy (Ed O'Neill, Modern Family), his wife Peg (Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy, Rebel) is a chain-smoking, lazy housewife bored out of her mind, their eldest daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate, Dead to Me) is dating a miscreant named Cobra, and their son Bud (David Faustino, The Legend of Korra) is a tattle-tale for money. The Bundys meet their uptight new neighbors, Steve and Marcy Rhoades (David Garrison, Amanda Bearse) and wind up pitting them against each other.

    Married... With Children would go on to be the longest-running sitcom in Fox history, running for 11 seasons until 1997, which might not have happened if they'd gone with the original pilot that never aired, where Kelly and Bud Bundy were played by Tina Caspary and Hunter Carson. You can see that version of the pilot below, and judge whether or not you agree with O'Neill, who requested those roles be recast due a lack of chemistry.

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    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: Married with Children, FOX, Amanda Bearse, Christina Applegate, David Faustino, David Garrison, Ed O’Neill, Katey Sagal