Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) is portrayed as a working-class, very outspoken bigot, prejudiced against everyone and everything not in agreement with his narrow-minded, very conservative view of the world. His ignorance and stubbornness tend to cause his malaprop-filled arguments to self-destruct. He often responds to uncomfortable truths by blowing a raspberry. He longs for simpler times, when people sharing his viewpoint were in charge, as evinced by the nostalgic theme song, "Those Were the Days."
By contrast, his wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) is a sweet, understanding, if somewhat intellectually limited, woman. She usually defers to her always-opinionated husband, but on the rare occasions when she takes a stand, she proves to be one of the wisest characters in the series. Archie often tells her to "stifle yourself" and calls her a "dingbat", but despite their very different personalities, they love each other deeply.
They have one child, Gloria (Sally Struthers), who is married to perennial college student Michael Stivic (Rob Reiner). Michael is an archetypal 1960s-style liberal. He and Archie constantly clash over politics and social issues, as well as the fact that Michael doesn't hold down a job and support his wife. For much of the series, the Stivics live in the Bunker home to save money, providing even more opportunity for the two men to irritate each other. Archie frequently calls his son-in-law "meathead" and "Polack" (since Michael is of Polish descent).
The show is set in the Astoria section of Queens, one of New York City's five boroughs.