Married… With Children: Season 11
Mill Creek Entertainment
Few shows were as iconic in the ’90s as the show that put the Fox Network on the map. The final season aired 18 years ago, meaning that there are kids entering college who do not remember a world where Married… With Children was still breaking new ground as an edgy prime time sitcom. As the series ended, it didn’t take itself too seriously in its goofy, self-reflexive humor. Gone are the gags of Kelly and Bud sucking Al dry for cash, at this point they are both making their own money and contributing to the family dynamic in their own way. Bud is out of college, and while he still lives at home, there isn’t an episode that doesn’t include some foibles with super-model looking women with the likes of fresh faced Elaine Hendrix (The Parent Trap) and Lisa Robin Kelly (That 70s Show). It’s refreshing to see Kelly, always the dumb blonde, have a savant-like wit about her.
Season 11 of Married… With Children aired some of the most iconic episodes of the series. In “Requiem for a Chevyweight” we get a full Bundy back story revolving around Al’s beloved Dodge. Peg and Al start their relationship as high school sweethearts, making promises of happiness and loyalty that hold true, minus their pesky teenaged dreams. Little Kelly and Bud have their origin stories told, too—Kelly was once a smart, studious prodigy, until an unfortunate bump to the head, and Bud was given a plastic doll which was never supposed to have a lasting effect. The highlight of the episode was a thinly-veiled, nearly ancient shout-out to Bud finding car parts on an online auction website, which would have been in its infancy. Bonus points for the brick of a laptop he’s using to do so. We also see Peg and Al finally hit the skids on their marriage in “Breaking Up is Easy to Do” after Peg decides that Al doesn’t listen or pay attention to her. As a fan, these episodes are actually a little heart-wrenching, and (spoiler alert!) they do work things out after a three-episode arc.
An episode of Married… With Children that should be pointed out is “Lez be Friends,” the sort-of-but-not-really outing of Marci’s cousin Mandi as a lesbian. Played by Amanda Bearse, who at the time, could not be publicly out on the show as a lesbian, although many sly references were made to this fact, if you ignore the sexual depravity in the D’Arcy’s relationship. It was a risk at the time, but only slightly less of a risk than Ellen’s coming out special the same year. The episode doesn’t play up Mandi’s sexuality too much for laughs, and instead helps Marci realize that she shouldn’t be angry with her cousin for deciding to disclose her sexuality to them. Mandi is accepted into the group with open arms and just before she departs, warms Peg’s heart with some flirting of her own. It should be noted that Bearse was also a producer, director, and sometimes writer on the show, so the strategy paid off in depicting a real lesbian character.
The planned finale of Married… With Children actually swapped places with the last aired episode, “How to Marry a Moron.” Kelly’s ill-fated wedding puts Al in a position where he has to choose between becoming part of a wealthy family, or preventing his daughter from marrying a dim-witted womanizer. It has all of the themes of family, loyalty, and sums up the Bundy experience perfectly. As the series closed out, it remained funny to the end. If you are a MWC fan, or even a connoisseur of classic TV, this is the cherry on top of your collection.