Trans comic Flame Monroe counts Norman Lear among her influences, recalling that ’75 episode .Archie Bunker saves the life of Beverly LaSalle, not knowing she’s a female impersonator. Monroe said she was a kid at the time and cried in the bathroom because she felt seen. She hopes her Netflix special has the same effect.
“I’m hoping that my story, my 30 minutes, my special touches some kid somewhere.”
Writer Matt Baume breaks down the groundbreaking episode, titled Archie the Hero, even though it features some cringe-worthy moments (including some explicitly anti-LGBTQ language), Baume said he believes the episode was nonetheless progressive.
“It’s sometimes hard to talk about gender nonconforming people from decades past, because the terms we use today are different from the terms they would have used back then. Not a lot of people use the phrase ‘female impersonator’ today … the point is that they’re creating an illusion of being female, usually doing an impression of a famous female star.
While drag was common in live venues in the 1970s, it was pretty rare on television. That’s what makes Beverly LaSalle on ‘All in the Family’ such a trailblazer ― at a time when TV treated drag performers as deranged psychopaths and literal punchlines, she was probably the first to be afforded dignity, love and respect.”