What Rod Serling did for TV drama, Lear accomplished with laughs. After writing for “The Colgate Comedy Hour” in the 1950s, Lear partnered with Bud Yorkin to form Tandem Prods. — but it wasn’t until 1970 that Lear turned his attention back to small-screen series.
Starting with “All in the Family,” Lear introduced the idea that TV comedy needn’t be hokey family pablum. Instead, his shows had a strong point of view, one that often reflected Lear’s liberal leanings. Yet, while conservatives carped, viewers laughed — perhaps because comedy almost always came before any perceived agenda. It didn’t hurt that Lear’s shows took shots at all sides.
Lear launched shows that tackled women’s issues (“Maude,” “One Day at a Time”), race (“Good Times,” “The Jeffersons”) and religion (“Sunday Dinner”).