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Proof Al And Peggy Love Each Other In Married With Children

This content was paid for by Sony and created by Looper.

When most people think of "Married... with Children" — the long-running, bawdy sitcom that was, for a long stretch of the '80s and '90s, appointment TV — they probably think of how rude Al and Peggy Bundy were, to everyone else and to each other. The whole show was predicated on the idea that Al, a working class shoe salesman, was miserable both at home and on the job. "Married... with Children" debuted at an in-between time in the history of television, after the wholesome shows of the '50s and '60s gave way to an influx of groundbreaking Norman Lear television shows, but before an onslaught of sleeker, friendship-centered shows like "Seinfeld" and "Friends." Some of its closest contemporaries, like "The Simpsons" and "Roseanne," explored similar territory: chiefly that the world was changing for everyday Joes and their families, and no one quite knew what to make of it. 

Al and Peg married at 18 and had their first child not long after, which was common during the time in which the show premiered and the world in which it takes place. "Married... with Children" frequently finds humor in the difficulty that is their lives. They live paycheck to paycheck. Their kids are disappointments. They feel as though they have little dignity. The way Al and Peggy treat each other could be considered cruel, but fans realized that the sitcom was meant to be a satirical take on marriage and parenthood, especially audiences who shared their particular struggles. Upon closer examination, the Bundys were faithful, supportive, and accepting of each other, and their bond could weather the storms that writers deluged them with every week. Need proof? Here are some of the most memorable times that Al and Peggy's love endured. 

The Bundys have a bad anniversary party but a good marriage

Anyone who's been with their partner for a while will relate to Al and Peggy's failed attempt to celebrate their anniversary in Season 1, Episode 6, called "16 Years and What Do You Get?" They shake hands instead of kiss, as neither of them has brushed their teeth yet, and they're disappointed that their kids have forgotten about the occasion. The couple irrationally thought Kelly and Bud might've gotten up early and made them breakfast. After so many years, and with money running low (as usual) Al and Peggy decide to forgo gifts and not make a big deal about it. But of course that's not what happens. The episode plays out like a snarky version of "The Gift of the Magi," with credit card debt. 

In truth, Al paid off his balance so that he could buy Peggy the expensive watch she's always wanted. However, Kelly and Bud, then Marcy and Steve meddle and convince Peggy she should go all out, too. Mrs. Bundy, in turn, buys a new dress, hires a violinist, gets Al the expensive power tools he's always wanted, and throws a party complete with caviar catering. The only problem: she charged it all, and just before Al tried to use it to pay for the watch. Peggy's initially annoyed that she lavished Al with presents while he came home empty-handed. The half-hour's sweetest moment comes when she realizes she's in the wrong. She tells guests that one of the ways Al shows he loves her is that he never makes her say she's sorry. When she tries to say the "S" word, he interrupts her and the two share a dance next to the car radio he's installed for her instead.

Al stays faithful in the face of temptation

"Married... with Children" typically aimed for raunchy, screwball comedy, but occasionally the tone and subject matter turned a bit more serious. In the 10th episode of the first season, "Al Loses his Cherry," the Bundys fight over a wedding invitation. Peggy wants to go to Milwaukee for a family member's nuptials, but Al flat out refuses. Peggy wants him to stay and talk it out, but he leaves for work — and says he's not coming home. 

At the shoe store, Al tells his co-worker Luke that he feels bad and is thinking about getting Peg flowers, but he wants to make sure she misses and appreciates him first. To create some intrigue, he stays at Luke's place. He's ready for a night of drinking beer and hanging out with the guys, but his friend has other plans. Meanwhile, Marcy and Kelly warn a confident Peggy that another woman could swoop in and steal her man if he's playing bachelor for the evening. Sure enough, Luke returns to his apartment with two young blonde women — the Cherry sisters — looking for a good time. Luke disappears into the bedroom with Terry Cherry (played by Jerry Hall), leaving Al to fend off the advances of Sherry Cherry, who gives him a backrub. Al tries to diffuse the sexual tension by confessing that he's, well, married with children. That's not a deal-breaker for Sherry Cherry, so the honorable shoe salesman politely turns her down and runs back home to his loving wife.

The couple that bowls together stays together

Many of "Married... with Children's" jokes have to do with the fact that the Bundys aren't the picket fence-perfect picture of an American family. But Season 2, Episode 9, "Alley of the Dolls" shows how, when push comes to shove, they've got each other's backs... Al and Peggy especially. Peg runs into an old adversary named Mimi at the bowling alley. Mimi tries to one-up Peggy at everything (she boasts that she has a maid, to which Peggy replies, "my house is a sty and I don't care") just like she did in high school. She's better than Peggy at bowling, too, so she challenges the Bundys to a not-so-friendly family bowl-off. Peg hesitates to accept, but Al steps up to defend his wife and give her a long overdue win against this foe. 

Unfortunately Bud has been lying about his bowling lessons and Kelly's as bad a bowler as her mom. So it's all up to Al and "cousin" Steve, their ringer. Al's motives aren't entirely altruistic. He loves bowling; he even has a thumb warmer. But he loves his horrible bowler of a wife even more and doesn't want to see her humiliated having to pose as a human trophy if she loses her bet against Mimi. It's a sitcom, so the audience's expectations are subverted. Bud comes through by sheer dumb luck, and Kelly does her part by being so hot she distracts Mimi's sons. The game comes down to the final frame. Al, with his warmed-up thumb, manages to get two strikes and put them in a position to win, but he flubs his last roll. The Bundys are losers once again, but it's fun to see them come together and direct their barbs outside the family circle for a change. 

Al tells Peggy how he really feels

It's Valentine's Day in Episode 17 of Season 2, titled "Peggy Loves Al, Yeah Yeah Yeah." Kelly has a mall full of suitors waiting to bestow her with gifts of devotion. Bud manages to succeed in landing his first Valentine ever. Steve got Marcy tickets to Hawaii to celebrate both the holiday and their first wedding anniversary. And Al's hoping that regular sex with his wife will do the trick. After Peggy spills Steve's secret to Marcy, she also confides in her neighbor that Al has a hard time expressing his feelings. He never actually says that he loves her, which offends Marcy, though Peggy takes it in stride. However, the more she thinks about it, the more it bothers her, too. 

Peggy tells Al that this year, all she wants is for him to say those three little words. He offers to take his socks off in bed instead. Al doesn't understand why it matters, since she knows how he feels, but that's no longer enough. He practices articulating the phrase with his kids, which prompts them to wonder if he's dying, but he still can't bring himself to do it. Before they go to bed for the night, Al pleads his case. He doesn't cheat on her, he gave her two kids, he stuck around through her hot pants phase. But in the end, even though he doesn't see the value in putting the obvious into words, he realizes that it's what Peggy wants. After joking that he's really going to hate her for making him do it, Al loudly states, "I love you." A thrilled (and scantily clad) Peggy throws her arms around him and exclaims, "you didn't have to say that!" 

Al shows Peg some support on her birthday

Season 3, Episode 6, "Her Cups Runneth Over," was one of the most controversial installments of "Married... with Children," but ironically, it depicts Al Bundy at his most thoughtful and secure. It's Peg's birthday, and when she complains that her favorite bra — the Fancy Figure 327 — has been discontinued, he realizes that a lifetime supply would make for a great present. Al drives with Steve all the way to Wisconsin to a place called Francine's of Hollywood, where he hopes they'll have some in stock. 

Francine's is the kind of establishment that caters to women who want practical undergarments, like Peggy, and to customers who are looking for something that does more than lift and separate. One of the moments that ruffled some viewers back in 1989 is when an elderly male receptionist dressed conservatively from the waist up walks across the store to reveal he's wearing women's lingerie from the waist down. The overtly sexy female employees mistake Al and Steve for a gay couple, which doesn't phase Al or make him question his masculinity in the slightest. He's just not attracted to his neighbor, and if he was gay, he'd like to think he could do better. 

Sure, Al's eyes linger a little too long on the chests of the store associates, but for good reason. He needs to figure out her cup size before he can purchase 10 Fancy Figure 327s. Put aside the episode's salacious sight gags and one-liners, and it's really a story about a guy who shows initiative to make his wife's birthday special. Peggy agrees. When she opens her gift, she calls Al "the sweetest man in the whole world." 

They've got each other, babe

"The Gypsy Cried" (Season 3, Episode 8) is mostly about Marcy's work life, but it also gives us a glimpse of Peggy and Al's life together at its most blissful. Marcy and Steve throw a work party for their fellow bankers to try and impress her demanding chauvinist boss. They hire a woman named Madam Olga to read everyone's fortunes as the entertainment. The Bundys weren't invited, but they crash the affair and are kicked out when Al suggests a wet t-shirt contest. Peggy's embarrassed by his crudeness, but she's charmed when he assures her that she would've won. When Marcy and Steve show up at the Bundy house to collect the food Al stole, Madam Olga follows to collect her payment and ends up giving everyone an impromptu reading on the spot. 

She foretells that Steve, Peggy, and Al all have good things in their futures, but Marcy's fortune is so unfortunate, she can't bring herself to say what she actually sees. Immediately afterwards, Marcy's horrible boss invites her to a conference in New York City. Afraid she'll die in a plane crash, she insists that Steve, Peggy, and Al come along, basically as hostages. During their first class flight from Chicago to New York, Al and Peggy — high on their good luck — enjoy free drinks and serenade each other with "I've Got You, Babe" playing in their complimentary headphones. They don't know all the words, and Al can't carry the tune, but the half-hour concludes on a sweet note as "Married... with Children's" central couple enjoy each other and the high life, even if just for a moment.   

The Bundys treat themselves

In Season 3, Episode 11, "Eatin' Out," the Bundys believe they're about to inherit a fortune from Peg's recently deceased Uncle Henry. As it turns out, he left them about 200 bucks. Since it's not a life-changing about of money, the family decides to get dressed up and treat themselves to a nice dinner.

The entirety of the comedy in this episode comes from the fact that the Bundys are such fish out of water in a classy restaurant. They don't even look at the menu and instead order four cokes, four steaks (Al tells the waiter to nuke 'em), and four potatoes (since they're free; Al checked). A live band playing "Moon River" adds to the mood as Al and Peggy dance and Peggy belts out the lyrics. Kelly says it's romantic how a pair of old dinosaurs like them still love each other that much. When the food comes, they devour it as if they were dinosaurs tearing into a fresh kill. What's genuinely adorable about "Eatin' Out" is that the Bundys accept each other for who they are, absent manners and lack of good breeding be damned. There's absolutely no pretention between Al and Peggy, and so when Al realizes he's left the inheritance check home, Peggy joins him in his increasingly silly efforts to stall and then avoid paying the bill. 

They may not have much, but Al and Peggy have each other, which they both seem pretty happy about as they dine and dash. Another couple might've thought their night ruined, but they leave with smiles on their faces and Al's putrid socks held out as weapons so no one tries to follow them. 

Peggy labors for her husband

In the premiere episode of Season 4, "Hot Off the Grill," the Bundys are home for a long Labor Day weekend while almost everyone else is at the beach enjoying the beautiful weather. Al decides to make the most of his day off by throwing yet another barbeque, but Peggy and the kids are sick of sweltering in the backyard and getting bitten by horseflies every year. He reminds them that Labor Day is a holiday for the working man. Al Bun-day, he calls it. So he gives Peg a shopping list and some chores while he gets ready to strap on his apron. 

Meanwhile Marcy and Steve are arguing about her unhealthy attachment to the urn containing her favorite aunt's cremated ashes. To help her get over her grief, Al invites them to his cookout. When it's party time, Al — in his summery ensemble, reclining on his folding chair — is so enthusiastic that he's actually in the mood to sleep with his wife. He's even more excited firing up his grill. The secret to his delicious burgers, he says, is that he never cleans it. But while Peggy's readying the yard for the party, she knocks it over and years worth of ashes and grease splatter onto the ground. The audience can see what's about to happen. Marcy's aunt is going to end up charring those hamburgers.  

The twist is obvious (though still funny), but the real meat of the episode is Peggy and Al's dynamic. Even though Peggy hates Labor Day "so much," she goes to great lengths to make Al happy. It's this kind of self-sacrificing that Peggy and Al do for their marriage more often than not, no matter how much they burn and roast each other.

A picture's worth a thousand words

After eight-plus seasons, it had been well established that Al Bundy isn't an outwardly sentimental husband and father. Season 9, Episode 16, "Get the Dodge Out of Hell," illustrates just how much he does appreciate his family, although for most of the episode's run, he's the same crass, wisecracking grouch that fans had come to know and love. Al is named the Grand Marshal of the Wanker County Bicentennial Parade, but Al and the kids don't really want to go. After Peggy sees through their excuses, they take their old Dodge to a car wash called Traugott's House of Scrubbin' so it looks presentable for the festivities. Marcy's there with Jefferson, who's begrudgingly taken a job at Traugott's, while Marcy's ex-husband Steve happens to be a customer at the car wash too — all around the same time that the Bundys arrive. 

Al is distraught when another employee explains that, somehow, the car wash has misplaced his vehicle. He retraces his steps, which leads to a bit in which Al himself gets hosed, waxed, and dried, but it's no use. The company offers to buy the Bundys another car, but Al throws a bit of a fit at the offer. He doesn't want another car (especially not a Hyundai), because his stuff is in the Dodge. When Peggy asks what stuff, he won't say. The employees do eventually find the car on the lot — it turns out that it was so dirty, it wasn't the same color anymore after it was finally washed. Al checks to make sure his belongings are still inside — and the audience discovers the "stuff" he was so upset about possibly having lost was a family photograph.

Al and Peggy just can't stay apart

Al and Peggy threaten to leave each other many times over throughout 11 seasons of "Married... with Children," usually just as a dark joke. But just prior to the series' end, they undergo a trial separation. At first, Peggy is devastated while Al is eager to try out midlife crisis bachelorhood. Things quickly do an about face, however, as Al's struggling on his own and Peggy meets Bruce (played by Alan Thicke) who seems like the perfect man. The kids can't wait for Bruce to become their "step-daddy" — that is, until he uses tough-love and tells them to move out. While Bruce is a "top-of-line model" (as he calls himself), it's clear that Peg longs for Al's "animal magnetism." But with her husband gone, she's dating smug, handsome, and well-to-do Bruce so at least she can become more of a lady of leisure.

However, when Bruce reveals that once they're married, he'll expect her to do all the cooking and cleaning, the Bundys kick him out of their lives for good. Peggy confesses to the kids that she misses their father as a montage of some of Al's wackiest and most disgusting moments plays. It's meant to be funny, but it's also touching. The Bundys have been through more than 25 years of real life together (11 that we've seen), and they've made more good memories than Bruce's money can buy. Peggy invents an excuse to visit Al's new apartment and conveniently needs a ride home. They end up on Maple Lane, in the same place where they first fought and first made up. Thankfully, they reconcile, as Al says to Peg, "just like this car, we're built to last."