ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

While TV offers viewers a chance for escape from their everyday life into a world of their choosing, there's often something quite comforting about seeing a person or group in a series which totally reminds you, or those you know.

Though family units such as those in Modern Family, Full House and The Cosby Show (yes, sorry, I know), are often touted as the representation of what true family looks like, in reality that's far from the truth. Take a look at the list below of five shows, specifically sitcoms, which have shown some of the most accurate portrayal of families - the good, bad and ugly parts.

1. Roseanne — 1988 - 1997

Absolutely no list about a realistic TV show is complete without Roseanne Barr's long running series, Roseanne. The show was really the first time that the every day struggles of a working-class family had been shown on TV, and the audience immediately embraced the concept.

The Conner family reflected back to audiences what they already knew; parents working multiple jobs while bringing up children, angsty teens trying to find their way, and extended family members and friends going through struggles with things such as sexuality, domestic violence or drug addiction. In the end Roseanne ran for nine seasons, and though the final season was by all accounts bizarre, the show still constantly makes lists claiming it one of the best series of all time - with great reason.

2. Malcolm in the Middle — 2000 - 2006

Feeling like you're the only one in your family who has any semblance of sanity is not a new concept, but it was used to hilarious effect in the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle.

Throughout the series seven season run we followed, and identified with, middle child Malcolm as he grew up in the crazy household consisting of his authoritarian mother, Lois, sweet but incompetent father, Hal, and his three rambunctious brothers Francis, Reese and Dewey. Much like Roseanne, the family in Malcolm in the Middle were working-class, dealt with issues surrounding their extended family (both Hal and Lois's families disapprove of their choice of spouse) which audience members could easily identify with despite the show being quite exaggerated and zany (as sitcoms are wont to do).

3. Married... With Children — 1987 - 1997

Running for a crazy 11 seasons, Married... With Children obviously struck a chord with audiences everywhere. The series zoned in on Al Bundy, a former star high school football player, who years later lives a relatively miserable life with a dysfunctional family and mediocre job.

Between Bundy's lazy wife Peggy, beautiful but clueless daughter Kelly and girl obsessed son Bud, Al's life was a series of mis-fires as he continuously schemed to make a better life for himself, only to inevitably be foiled by himself. The series pushed the boundaries for prime time television of the time, but it was also certainly painfully familiar for anyone who had ever sat back to wonder how exactly they had gone from high school legend to middle-aged nobody.

4. Everybody Loves Raymond — 1996 - 2005

Choosing to focus on the adult relationships in a family, Everybody Loves Raymond lasted nine seasons, and welcomed us into the dysfunctional Barone clan.

The series followed Raymond and Debra Barone who were raising their family just a stoned throw away from Raymond's parents, Marie and Frank and brother Robert. Everybody Loves Raymond was a realistic look at how intrusive family can be, the relationships between a spouse and in-laws, and the old adage that you can choose your friends, but not your family. But, no matter how irritating or unwanted the family intrusions could be in Everybody Loves Raymond, at the end of the day it was all from a place of (sometimes misguided) love.

5. The Middle — 2009 - present

Much like a couple of the other shows on this list, The Middle makes such a relatable show because it centers on the small-town working-class Heck family, and the challenges they face with family, school and work.

The show, which is narrated by mom, Frankie, follows the ups and downs of every day life for the family who all have their own struggles. Husband, Mike is a no-nonsense type working as a manager at a quarry, eldest son Axl is a popular but lazy teenage, daughter Sue is socially awkward yet well meaning, and youngest Brick is an intelligent but odd introvert. The Heck's are a true mixed bag, and definitely a bunch of characters that are representative of any families, and relatable to viewers of all ages.

What sitcom family did you most relate to?


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