[Is there a better way to celebrate the manger-birth of a superpowered messiah-baby than watching television? Hell no! Join Rendar Frankenstein as he navigates Spaceship OL through the Televised Days of Christmas!]
Alas, life is embraced once again! It’s a Wonderful Life reminds all viewers that they’re worth something, even if they don’t think so. And for its saccharine resolution, the movie has come to be known as the forerunner of all holiday entertainment.
But what if the lesson in It’s a Wonderful Life can’t be universally applied? What happens if someone who is a societal malignancy begins contemplating non-existence? What do we learn when peering into another dimension in which an individual’s absence allows others to flourish?
In those instances, we have to accept that It’s a Bundyful Life.
It’s a Bundyful Life is a two-part Christmas episode of Married with Children, the show that made a name for itself by dispelling the myths propagated for decades by classics like Leave it to Beaver and The Brady Bunch. Whereas these staples of syndication suggest that the modern American family consists of loving, well-intentioned members, FOX’s dark horse painted a much more accurate portrait. The head of the Bundy household is a grouchy shoe-salesman named Al, Peggy is his sexually-unfulfilled shopaholic of a wife, his son Bud is a thief and all around miscreant, and his Kelly daughter is a bombshell-sleaze with a shoe size-IQ.
The ideal of the nuclear family? Hardly. The reality of the nuclear family. All too often.
So how does Al Bundy, begrudging father and husband, disgruntled retail lackey, and misanthropic worshipper of the glowing calf known as television, celebrate Christmas? Well, knowing that his family’s admiration is dependent on the giving of gifts, Al hopes to go to and withdraw the Christmas funds he’s set aside throughout the year.
That’s right — for the first time in his life, Al has planned ahead so as to provide Christmas presents for his family. Sure, his motivation isn’t making his family happy, but keeping them off his back. But it’s the thought that counts, and all that Christmas bullshit, right?
Of course, shit hits the fan.
When Al goes to snag his money, the bank has closed up shop early for a Christmas party. Al bangs on the door and appeals to Marcy D’Arcy, his next-door neighbor and archenemy who just happens to work at the bank. Marcy’s willing to help him, but gets sidetracked by the usual office party shenanigans: drinking, dancing, making photocopies of her ass, and passing out.
Knowing that returning home sans-presents will inspire only ire in his family, Al concocts a couple schemes to make some last-second Christmas Eve cash. The best of these? Turning his shoe store into a daycare in which children are bound, silenced, and forced to listen to his sage-like poetry:
`Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
No food was a-stirring, not even a mouse.
Stockings were hung ’round dad’s neck like a tie,
Along with a note that said, “Presents or die.”
Children were plotting all night in their beds,
While the wife’s constant whining was splitting his head.
But daddy had money this year in the bank,
Then they closed up early, now dad’s in the tank.
… and all of a sudden Santa appeared,
A sneer on his face, booze in his beard.
“Santa,” I said as he laughed merrily,
“You do so much for others, do something for me.”
“Bundy,” he said, “you only sell shoes,
“Your son is a sneak-thief, your daughter’s a flooze.
“Ho Ho,” Santa said, “should I mention your wife?
“Her hair’s like an A-bomb, her nails like a knife.”
As he climbs up the chimney, that fat piece of dung,
He mooned me two times, he stuck out his tongue.
And I heard him exclaim, as he broke wind with glee:
“You’re married with children, you’ll never be free!”
When Al reveals to his family that Christmas will be a gift-less event, they abandon him to his own devices. Al is then electrocuted while hanging up Christmas lights, and since he exclaims, “Sometimes I think it’d be better if I was never born,” a guardian angel is sent his way. Y’know, to show him that his life matters and everything.
However, this ain’t no run-of-the-mill heavenly-helper. Al’s guardian angel is Sam Kinison. And if you’re unfamiliar with the comedian, just know that when he realizes what a task it’ll be to help Al turn his life around he looks to the sky and screams, “Could you stop playing Nintendo for a minute!?”
Just like Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, Al Bundy gets to peer into a reality in which he never existed. The result? A world in Bud is a feminist-sympathizing scholar, Peg is an elegant wife, , and Kelly is a drab-dressing and sexually frigid academic. This alternate dimension family is gracious, altruistic, and completely content. Take a look:
So what does Al decide to do? Well, in the true spirit of Married With Children, he decides that he will continue living. However, Al chooses life so as to deny his family the opportunity of flourishing. As Al sees it, if he is going to live a life of destitution and misery he’s sure as hell not going to do it alone, and he’s certainly not going to die so that others can have opportunities.
It’s the Bundy way. It’s the American way. And if an angel offers you a choice between turbulent life and blissful death, it might just be your way.