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10 Crazy Bad Examples of TV Families

April 10, 2012

The exploding popularity of reality programming has introduced an entirely new set of dysfunctional families to the world of television; they stand alongside some of the heavy-hitters in the realm of scripted-show history. Here are ten of the best examples of the worst family dynamics from reality and scripted television.

  1. The Osbournes – When former Black Sabbath frontman and solo rocker Ozzy Osbourne’s family first appeared on MTV for their reality show, many were shocked by the profanity and substance abuse that seemed to be typical for the Osbournes. During the show’s run, son Jack did a stint in rehab; after its cancellation, Ozzy admitted to relapsing into painkiller abuse.
  2. Real Housewives – Though Bravo’s Real Housewives… series follows a group of families in several American cities, the moments of functionality and quality parenting on any of the shows are rare to non-existent. The self-involved parents largely ignore their entitled children, leaving viewers scratching their heads.
  3. Teen Mom Families – The 16 & Pregnant spinoff Teen Mom may have been intended as a series of cautionary tales regarding teen pregnancy and parenthood, but the popularity of the shows have caused worries that some teens have deliberately conceived in order to have a shot at being cast. For the young parents that are starring in the shows, most of their children are raised by grandparents while they struggle with underage drinking and even domestic violence arrests.
  4. All In the Family – Though All in the Family is a beloved classic, younger viewers encountering the show for the first time are struck by the unrepentant bigotry and misogyny of main character Archie Bunker.
  5. Married With Children – Intended as a satire on the “perfect family” sitcoms of earlier days, the Married With Children clan never fails to live up to their ironic potential. Attention-starved, sexually provocative teenage daughter, chronically underachieving son, misanthropic father and a clueless, self-absorbed mother all come together to create one of television’s most dysfunctional families of all time.
  6. My Super Sweet Sixteen – MTV makes the list again with their offering My Super Sweet Sixteen, which showcased real teenage girls who were spoiled to such a degree that viewers were disgusted. The lavish birthday soirees often cost several thousand dollars, but still ended in tears of self-entitled rage more often than not.
  7. Jon and Kate Plus Eight – What began as a portrait of a struggling but still-functional family dealing with the complications of raising eight children ended in bitterness and divorce as Jon and Kate Gosselin became more focused on fame than their children.
  8. Gossip Girl – The CW hit based on a bestselling series of young adult novels has been so controversial that the network used public outcry as a marketing campaign, proudly showcasing the horrified reviews to create a buzz.
  9. Breaking Bad – The saga of a methamphetamine-producing father, Breaking Bad is veritable goldmine of shock-value parenting. Walt White stores weapons in the nursery and feeds a teenage son shots of tequila, all while fielding the delicate problems that come from working in the seedy underbelly of meth production and distribution.
  10. Weeds – Showtime’s hit comedy-drama Weeds follows the exploits of drug dealing suburbanite Nancy Botwin, whose antics are often hilarious, but deeply disturbing for a mother of two sons. Before long, eldest son Silas begins working in the “family business,” with the reluctant approval of his mother, who often comes off as a woman struggling to understand how her life became so complicated.

7 Responses to 10 Crazy Bad Examples of TV Families

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Megan L. says:

I am absolutely horrified by some of these shows, but others are definitely ones I indulge in. The 16 and pregnant and My Super Sweet 16 and Teen Mom and all those reality shows that make parents (both the young ones and the older ones) look bad make me sick. However I’ll readily admit that my husband and I are addicted to the dark plot twists in Breaking Bad…

Nancy D. says:

Aw, I grew up watching Married with Children. I used to love that show! I guess they are pretty dysfunctional though, huh? Still, it was definitely entertaining!

jillian says:

hmmm my daughter watches gossip girl all the time but i never really knew anything about it or even cared to find out. now that i’m seeing it on this list, though, i feel like maybe i need to reevaluate if it’s ok for her to watch or not…

Cara S. says:

The Real Housewives series really, REALLY get under my skin. I’m a housewife and my life does not even remotely resemble their lives. It’s really pretty disgusting to watch and sad that these women and their trainwreck lives hvae essentially become glorified on TV. We need to stop giving these people ratings@

jessie carlisle says:

great list – these are all spot on the type of families you don’t want your own family to resemble! though, like megan said, i will admit to being addicted to breaking bad. that’s just one show i can’t quit, even though the family dynamic is terrible. the “reality” shows can go as far as i’m concerned though – we have way too much “reality” tv – wasn’t tv supposed to be an escape from reality?

Holly Sparks says:

I hope no one actually thinks anything about the Real Housewives of whatever city is real! While I don’t regularly watch the show, the few episodes I have watched just make me feel sad for them. It must be depressing to be THAT unhappy with your life and that money/attention hungry that you think it’s OK to exploit yourself on television like that. Definitely not role models.

keila d. says:

Jon & Kate – what a train wreck. I feel so sorry for their kids and the media storm they put them through. They’re a good example of what can happen when fame becomes more important than everything else.