Katey Sagal Calls ‘Married … With Children’ a ‘Misogynistic Show’ on Its 30th Anniversary: Women Were Portrayed ‘in an Exploited Way’

Is it a show you can’t disparage? Seminal Fox sitcom Married … With Children hits its 30th anniversary this week, and Katey Sagal (Peggy Bundy) opened up on AOL’s BUILD Series on Monday, April 3, about the show’s mixed legacy.

Katey Sagal
Katey Sagal discusses "Grace Notes" with the Build Series at Build Studio in 2017 in New York City. Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic

Sagal, who discusses the show in her new book, Grace Notes: My Recollections, told AOL that she didn’t necessarily agree with how the characters viewed women. Married … With Children premiered on then-fledgling network Fox on April 5, 1987, and provided a breakthrough role for Sagal, who costarred with Ed O’Neill (Al Bundy), Christina Applegate (Kelly Bundy) and David Faustino (Bud Bundy).

Katey Sagal, Ed O'Neill and Amanda Bearse
Katey Sagal, Ed O'Neill and Amanda Bearse on 'Married … With Children' Columbia Pictures Television/Everett Collection

“It was a very misogynistic show,” Sagal, 63, said of the comedy, which ran for 10 seasons before signing off in June 1997. “It was when I really, clearly understood that my job as an actor was to interpret the material. It’s not necessarily my belief system. My belief system has nothing to do with being an actor. You know, I was hired to play a part … The women were portrayed completely exploited on that show. That was part of Al Bundy’s thing — he liked hot women, and they showed them all the time.”

She continued, “And so, people would ask me questions like, ‘Is this what you think? I mean, how can you be on a show like this?’ And I was really clear that I don’t believe in censorship, and I also believe that it’s my job as an actor to interpret the material — it’s not my belief. If you’re asking me, do I think women should be portrayed in a misogynistic way, in an exploited way, of course I don’t think that. But playing Peg Bundy had nothing to do with what I thought. That was my job.”

Married … With Children Katey Sagal
'Married … With Children' cast Christina Applegate, Katey Sagal, Ed O'Neill, David Faustino, Amanda Bearse and David Garrison Columbia Pictures Television/Everett Collection

Sagal — who moved on to roles on 8 Simple Rules, Lost and Sons of Anarchy — said that she saw Married as a satire, but that not all viewers interpreted it that way. “Suddenly, it dawned on us that this is not just a satire to everybody,” the actress said. “Some people are really, truly relating to this, and that’s when I would get these very serious questions about a show that was really only meant to be funny. It was meant to be funny and to entertain and to laugh at ourselves. And I always got it as that, but some people took it really seriously.”

In an interview with ABC News on April 5, Sagal said that the cast had “great chemistry” and that she would be open to a reunion. “I know David Faustino was trying to put together something that was going to be like a spinoff, and Eddie, Christina and I said, ‘Yes, we’d do the pilot.’ Then … the brakes got put on it,” Sagal said. “I don’t know if it will [happen]. … Maybe that’s the fate of the Bundys, to never come back! Like everybody else does, but we don’t.”

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