Family is everything, particularly on television. The shows that grab us and make us care are shows with heart. Shows with families we can relate to, laugh at, empathize with and emulate. Over the years, many families have traipsed through our living rooms, via our television sets. Here’s a look back at some of the families we’ve tuned in to see week after week.
Families We Wanted to Join
What ’80s kid didn’t want to be a part of The Cosby Show’s Huxtable family? Episodes were always laugh-out-loud funny and appropriate for the entire family. Even twenty years later, the storylines are relevant and meaningful. The Huxtables cared about family — over the years, the clan welcomed grandparents, sons-in-law, step-children, and a new generation of little ones — and many of us wanted to be a part of that world
Other families we loved like our own: The Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie; the Seavers of Growing Pains; and the Keatons of Family Ties. Also-ran: The Walshes of Beverly Hills 90210, but only because so many of us wanted to be up close and personal with Jason Priestly.
Families that Redefined Family
The eponymous Brady Bunch clan portrayed a blended family that had its share of ups and downs but dealt with them openly. Sure, there’s something a little strange about a family that can afford a live-in housekeeper but only has one bathroom for six children to share, but hey. It made us look at things differently.
Fifteen years later, the Bowers and the Micellis got together and gave us Who’s the Boss? Despite the frequent arguments, this group demonstrated that the line between family and friends is flexible — and even completely irrelevant at times.
Other families that made us think about what family is: Kate McArdle and Allison Lowell of Kate and Allie; the Banks family of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, who treated their butler with as much respect as their rambunctious nephew Will; the Jackson/Drummond clan of Diff’rent Strokes
Families that Kept it Real
If you can’t see at least a little of your own family in the Barones of Everybody Loves Raymond, you’re either lying or you’re not looking. This was a real family, with fights, insults, misunderstandings — and an enormous amount of love and (at times somewhat grudging) respect. Over the course of the show’s run, even Ray’s tough father Frank demonstrated that he loved his family deeply and completely.
Another family that stuck it out through tough times was the Conner family of Roseanne. At the end of the day, the Connor family was passionate about caring for their own, despite difficult circumstances and frequently clashing personalities.
One last family that was genuine in their distaste for one another, though perhaps not anything approaching real, was the Bundys of Married… With Children. And although Al and Peg fought like cats and dogs, they never cheated on each other, and siblings Bud and Kelly stuck up for each other when it counted.
Television families remind us of what we love and… love less… about our own families. For a real treat, think about the families that have spoken to you over the years, track down an episode or two and watch them with your kids.
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