Married… with Children was Fox’s first hit show. It also inspired the network’s first (but hardly the last) controversy.
After being “appalled” while watching the season three episode “Her Cups Runneth Over,” anti-obscenity activist Terry Rakolta convinced several companies to “cancel commercials on the Fox Broadcasting Company’s top-rated series and to review their television advertising policies,” according to the New York Times. She was offended by the comedy’s “blatant exploitation of women and sex and anti-family attitudes,” including an old man wearing garters and stockings and Al Bundy ogling a naked woman.
Rakolta may have won the battle — the president of Coca-Cola USA wrote to Rakolta saying that he was “corporately, professionally, and personally embarrassed” that a Coke ad aired during the raunchy sitcom — but Married… with Children won the war.
During an episode of WTF with Marc Maron, Katey Sagal, who played Peggy, credited Rakolta’s boycott for the show’s popularity. “We sent her flowers every year,” the Futurama and Sons of Anarchy actress recalled. “She tried to get us off the air and all it did was get us on the front of the New York Times. And it doubled our audience.”
In season two, Married… with Children was the 116th biggest show on TV with 4.7 million viewers per episode; by season five, it was up to #50 with over 13 million viewers. That’s partially due to still-nascent Fox’s rise into the Big Four, but it’s also because a controversy can do wonders for a fledgling show. It did here — Married… with Children aired for 11 seasons. It still holds the record for Fox’s longest-running live-action sitcom.
As for Terry, she’s married to John Rakolta Jr., who served as the United States Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates during the Trump administration. Shocking.
You can listen to the WTF episode below.
— marc maron (@marcmaron) April 8, 2021
(Via the Hollywood Reporter)