For me, this will be my third season reviewing the show every single Wednesday night. When I hopped on the coverage back in Season 7, I almost immediately regretted it.
What was an aging but still rather funny and thoughtful show only a season before had suddenly gone off the deep end and hit rock bottom. Luckily, last season saw the show rebound, finding a lot of its heart again even if some of the plotting remained uninspiring. Sure, that theme is filtered through the surface story of Jay wanting to take his whole family out on a house boat to witness an eclipse that happens once every 99 years, and also Phil and Claire grappling with their own aging, but the meta commentary is certainly there.
Two moments act as the catalyst for self-examination: First, Jay receives news that a colleague of his has died, and reads nothing but glowing remembrances of the man. For Claire and Phil, that means going cliff jumping rather than for a peaceful walk in the woods. We Vulture list-makers debated over whether to include both and ultimately decided to go with Little House , because the time period it depicted was so distant from the s, yet the issues its episodes confronted — from the rivalry between Laura Melissa Gilbert and the original mean girl Nellie Oleson Alison Arngrim to serious illnesses and addiction — still felt relevant to the present.
More importantly, we got to see family drama from the point of view of a young girl growing into a woman. The women of Little House were survivors, and watching them every week had a profound impact on every girl sitting in front of her TV with her hair braided in Laura-like pigtails, including this one.
Who else but Linda could explore so deeply the anxiety of not being cool? And Bob, whose Thanksgiving obsessiveness is as much about family as it is about food. But the result often played like something closer to Goodfellas by way of All in the Family , mixing gangland intrigue into refreshingly everyday stories about inheritance and charity, investments and savings, gentrification and racism, fidelity and faith.
Jane the Virgin , —present Jane the Virgin is many, many things — telenovela, meta-commentary on the concept of fiction, coming-of-age story, portrait of a writer as a young woman. Each woman has her own life and her own desires, but Jane, Xo, and Alba are most astonishing as that rare TV family who insist on loving one another , and truly seeing one another as people. There is no better family on TV right now than the Villanuevas. Ozzie and Harriet hawked Hotpoint kitchen appliances. They just wish they had the reach of the Kardashians. But even beyond the history-making depiction of a person in transition, Transparent is one of the most interesting TV stories about how families work.
The most powerful images in the series, including the newborn Kunta Kinte being held aloft and the traumatic departure of Kizzy, are ultimately about families being regenerated or ripped apart. The sequel, Roots: The Next Generation , brings the story right up to the present, with the character of Alex Haley James Earl Jones listening to a griot tell the story of Kunta Kinte in the final chapter, followed as in the original by an epilogue in which the real Haley urges viewers to study geneology to better understand their own families. The remake of Roots is also very much worth seeing.
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet , — Police-procedural television made the leap from radio with Dragnet ; family sitcoms moved from radio to television with Ozzie and Harriet.
Family TV Shows: The 50 Most Definitive Series, Ranked
But every family sitcom owes something to Ozzie and Harriet , whether as a direct inheritor or as an effort to rebel against their model. And in some ways Ozzie and Harriet were progenitors of the family-based reality show as well: With every family member essentially playing themselves, the fictional Nelsons became flattened onto their offscreen lives. In so many ways they are an American TV Ur-family, as a model or as a paradigm to resist. For all the viewers who congratulated themselves on recognizing a corrosive satire of bland sitcom norms and Archie Bunker—style, urban caveman thinking, there were probably just as many who enjoyed seeing a bitter, emasculated father call his wife a money-grubbing ditz and his teenage daughter a slut.
But the series soon acquired a sinister and despairing aura. Al was Archie Bunker stripped of context, so that the only thing left was self-immolating glee at tearing everything down. The current occupant of the White House is Al Bundy with money. For better or worse probably worse , this is one of the most influential shows ever made. But you know what?
- Ty Burrell's sense of humor is now his trademark.!
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As tainted as our image of Cosby is in light of his alleged sexual abuse of dozens of women, the Huxtables still stand as one of the most significant families in TV history, and the many good people aside from Cosby who brought them to life on NBC still deserve credit for that. There had been black families on television before, and there had been successful black families on television before, like the Jeffersons. The Cosby Show was the most watched television show in America for the entire second half of the s, and that contributed to the most significant fact of all: that because of this show, the ideal family no longer looked Brady or Waltons white.
Roseanne , — Among the very best family shows ever on TV, the original nine seasons of Roseanne were an astonishing feat. The Conner family was, in so many ways, many of the things no TV family had been before. Both parents work outside the home, in an unstable variety of blue-collar jobs that changed as their community changed. The Conner children grow up on the show, get married, and have their own marital tensions.
They get pregnant unexpectedly more than one child is conceived on Roseanne outside of a marriage. There are gay characters. There are stories about birth control and PMS. Roseanne takes the oh-so-wholesome role of TV mom and turns her into someone who occasionally gets too drunk and whose teenagers have real problems. When the original Roseanne was at its peak, there was a sense that a previously unseen kind of American family suddenly had a very funny voice.
It will be fascinating to see what its revival has in store. Vietnam, civil rights, gay rights, feminism, abortion, you name it, the Bunkers and Stivics talked about it, and sometimes drew lively supporting characters including African-American next-door neighbor George Jefferson into the mix.
Ty Burrell's sense of humor is now his trademark.
But the Lear tradition has made a bit of a comeback recently, with actors of color anchoring the shenanigans on shows like Black-ish , Fresh Off the Boat , Modern Family , the late and lamented The Carmichael Show , and a new Lear success, One Day at a Time , a Cuban-American centered remake of his same-titled s hit. The show was so popular that in , Republican presidential candidate George H. Already a subscriber? Log in or link your magazine subscription. Account Profile. Sign Out. Crazy Credits.
Alternate Versions. Rate This. Episode Guide. The daily mishaps of a married woman and her semi-dysfunctional family and their attempts to survive life in general in the town of Orson, Indiana.
2. Ariel Winter As Alex Dunphy
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"Kids These Days"
How many episodes of The Middle have you seen? Share this Rating Title: The Middle — 7. Use the HTML below. You must be a registered user to use the IMDb rating plugin. Episodes Seasons. Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Edit Cast Series cast summary: Patricia Heaton Frankie Heck episodes, Neil Flynn Mike Heck episodes, Charlie McDermott Axl Heck episodes, Eden Sher Sue Heck episodes, Atticus Shaffer Edit Storyline Following a woman named Frankie, and her boisterous family, the Hecks.
Taglines: Just like your family Not really. Well, maybe. Genres: Comedy. Edit Details Official Sites: Official site. Country: USA. Language: English. Also Known As: The Middle. Runtime: 22 min. Sound Mix: Stereo Dolby Digital.
Color: Color. Edit Did You Know?