Married… with Children was a huge hit in America, with the life of grumpy shoe shop worker Al Bundy and his wife Peggy running for eleven seasons and three spin-offs. The ITV remake starring Russ Abbot… not so much. Actually, that’s an understatement. It did so badly that The Independent called it “one of the worst sitcoms ever made”.
In what you’ll find to be a recurring theme here, one of the biggest problems with Married For Life is that each of its seven episodes is an adaptation of a Married With Children episode, to the point that almost everything that’s not a specific cultural reference is lifted word-for-word. And not just content with taking it easy on the scripts, the costuming and hair on lead actors Russ Abbot and Susan Kyd is basically the same as on their Married… with Children equivalents Ed O’Neill and Katey Segal. Ultimately, it’s an attempt at portraying the hardships of working class life that never quite rings true and lacks effort.
Unsurprisingly, Married With Children was swiftly cancelled after the first series aired. And judging by how tricky the full episodes are to track down, ITV have done a pretty good job of sweeping it under the carpet. Something I imagine is a relief for Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville, who played smug and wealthy neighbour Steve Hollingsworth in one of his earlier roles.