The Bundy-Griswold Connection And More ‘Married… With Children’ Surprising Facts

Married… with Children ran for 11 seasons on Fox, breaching the carefully cultivated idea of what a family should be on television, while injecting a bit of sexuality into the land of sitcoms. When TV’s trailblazers are mentioned, though, Married… with Children usually doesn’t come up, and the same thing goes for when contemporary writers and comedic minds talk about their inspirations. Is it because the show was low-brow and unpolished? Perhaps, but the show’s impact is something that can’t be ignored, and it doesn’t seem like it’s disappearing from our consciousness anytime soon. If you doubt that, take a look at the reaction on social media to today’s update about the possible spin-off.

So, how do we celebrate Married… with Children‘s unfading place in pop culture? We dig in and highlight some lesser know details about the show.

The Griswold/Bundy Connection

The opening theme evolved over the course of the show’s 11-season run, but there was an aerial shot of the highway in Chicago for the first four seasons that was apparently reapportioned from another dysfunctional family comedy, National Lampoon’s Vacation (the arrow in the above image is pointing at the Family Truckster from the film). As you’re surely aware, the reboot of the Vacation franchise premiered in theaters on Wednesday with Christina Applegate (Kelly Bundy) in one of the lead roles. The world is small.

A Different Title 

As I alluded to, Married… with Children was rude, devoid of a morally upright message, and the antithesis of other family sitcoms of its era. With the intention of making that kind of show, producers initially wanted to ram home by calling the show Not the Cosbys. Thankfully, that working title didn’t stick. Not only is it a bit on the nose with regard to the tone of the show, but it would have felt a bit dated after a time.

Top Of The Heap

David Faustino’s Bud Bundy spin-off isn’t the first thing to spring from the thigh of Married… with Children. Back in 1991, Kelly’s sometimes boyfriend Vinnie Verducci (future Friends star Matt LeBlanc) got the chance to headline Top of the Heap, a father and son buddy comedy that co-starred Joseph Bologna as the senior Verducci. It lasted six episodes (and a backdoor pilot on the main show) and also introduced Joey Lauren Adams to the Married… with Children-verse as Mona Mullins, one of three roles she would play on Married… with Children over the years. Adams also played Mona on Vinnie and Bobby, the spin-off of Top of the Heap, which ditched Bologna and paired LeBlanc’s Vinnie with a friend named Bobby. That show ran for a handful of episodes in 1992.

There was also the failed Steve spin-off about him working as a Dean at a college, but that backdoor pilot apparently didn’t spark like the Top of the Heap one did.

Happy Together

Happy Together is the Russian version of Married… with Children. It’s not uncommon for popular U.S. shows to be adapted for foreign markets, but it’s a bit interesting that, after adapting all episodes of the original, producers kept going and solicited story ideas from fans. The show’s Wikipedia page also says that Married… with Children writers Richard Gurman and Katherine Green contributed to the new episodes, but there’s nothing on IMDb about that, so take that factoid with the appropriate amount of salt.

A Very Different Cast

Every show goes through a complicated casting process where iconic characters are eventually, at least on paper, momentarily envisioned with someone else in those roles. Regarding Married… with Children, it was more than on paper for Kelly and Bud, who were played by Tina Caspary and Hunter Carson in the unaired pilot. In the years since, they were replaced by Applegate and Faustino. Carson has bounced around with a few low-key roles in front of and behind the camera, while Caspary stepped away from acting before the dawn of the ’90s after taking roles in Mac and Me and Can’t Buy Me Love.

On paper, the roles of Al Bundy and Peg Bundy could have gone to Sam Kinison and Roseanne Barr, but they passed. What a loud, screamy show that would have been.

A Fitting Tribute

Ed O’Neill has had a long career, and he’s done some of his best work on Modern Family, but he will always be grumpy shoe salesman Al Bundy, and that was never clearer than when it was revealed that his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame would be in front of a shoe store in Los Angeles. Who says you can’t go home again?