All in the Family

Season 1 Episode 5

Judging Books By Covers

Aired Unknown Feb 09, 1971 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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out of 10
96 votes
  • Archie thinks Mike and Gloria's friend Roger is gay because of Roger's appearance and tastes. However Archie is soon in for a big surprise.

    "Judging Books By Covers" is a landmark episode in the greatest situation comedy in history. There are many reasons why. The first is the most obvious: the subject matter. Long considered taboo in the world of prime time television, "All in the Family" does a great job bringing this serious subject to the forefront. Further commendation is needed here because the subject was dealt with in a unique way, instead of pushing stereotypes about gay people and the gay lifestyle, this episode turned them upside down and made the viewer see just how absurd they are. The excellent supporting cast is yet another reason why this episode works so well. Emmy winner Anthony Geary is terrific as Roger. He plays the part perfectly by not hamming it up and being very relaxed in the role. The same can be said for the late Phil Carey as Archie's friend Steve. Like Geary he too does not try to overplay the role. "Judging Books By Covers" is one of the inaugural season's best episodes.
  • Archie questions the sexuality of an effeminate straight man, and later learns that one of his best friends, an all American, is really gay

    It took a lot of guts, brains and talent for a network television show to tackle gay people and gay rights in the early 1970s.

    In the previous decades their had been few openly gay characters (much less actors) on television mostly based on cultural cues, sexual innuendos and various gender-based stereotypes. Even less was said about the issue of gay rights. While their was a gay rights movement in post-war America, television -- especially entertainment -- generally avoided the issue.

    Hence, this episode was a controversial at the time. It challenged not just homophobia, but larger issues of sexism. Entirely appropriate for the series, but not without some protest.

    For example, President Nixon went on record as being very opposed to it and homosexuality in general. Yet, the series would tackle sexuality based prejudice and discrimination in future episodes.

    It is a great episode, albeit somewhat dated, and many of the issues raised are still being debated today.
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